Projects Abroad continues to support ethical wildlife volunteering

Lions lying in the sun
Lions lying in the sun

As one of the largest voluntary tourism providers in the world, and therefore a leading authority on the industry, Projects Abroad recognises that animal cruelty can often be a by-product of tourism. Examples of this include elephant back riding, photography opportunities with wildlife and close encounters with wild animals.

One of the most prevalent and severe examples of the impact that this type of tourism can have on animals is the lion industry in South Africa, where the captive lion population considerably exceeds the wild population. Most of these lions are bred as part of the lucrative hunting industry, but the breeding of lions for hunting in South Africa also attracts thousands of volunteers each year, often under the false impression that they are taking part in conservation projects by working at these lion breeding facilities. Furthermore, thousands of tourists pay to enter these facilities to pet and play with lions cubs. These unscrupulous facilities present huge animal welfare concerns as the lion cubs are taken away from their mothers on the day they are born, which causes huge distress to both mother and cubs. They are then subjected to daily interactions with tourists and when they are too old to be handled they await their fate in the form of a ‘trophy’ hunt.

In light of this disturbing practice, Projects Abroad commits to ensuring that all its international projects are thoroughly vetted and research is undertaken to guarantee that the volunteering placements the organisation offers are in no way connected to animal cruelty in any form.   

Furthermore, Projects Abroad actively encourages its volunteers to have an animal friendly experience when volunteering overseas and to be aware of the potential negative effects of tourist activities involving animals.

Projects Abroad, in line with the recommendations of the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, would like to encourage volunteers and tourists to:

  • Remember wild animals belong in the wild and should only be viewed in their natural habitat. 

  • Never pay to have a photograph taken with a wild animal.

  • Never pay to have a close encounter with a wild animal. This includes elephant back riding, swimming with dolphins and petting of big cats such as lions.

  • Never attend events that promote animal cruelty such as bull fighting, cock fighting or circuses that include wild animals.

  • Never buy animal related souvenirs or take anything from the wild, including sea shells, teeth, fur and animal parts. 

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