Writing about travel tips and exciting destinations is fun, but writing about things that matter is so much better. I'm not on my high-horse today, but I want to use my platform, my blog, to bring some things to the attention of others that I'm just as passionate about as I am traveling. Many people travel for pleasure. and I definitely do the same. But what I want to point out is that some people don't realize is that their - and my - enjoyment may come at the cost of nature's well-being.
When I first started traveling, Thailand was my number one travel goal with dreams to ride an elephant across the land. How cool would that be? Riding one of the world's most majestic animals in one of the world's most beautiful destinations. And on top of that, it's cheap! A dream. However, what I didn't realize was that there are implications for those actions. I would by no means be the only person riding that elephant and I had no idea what deplorable living conditions the animals could be inhabiting.
It's not always easy to look outside of your own happiness to see if that which is causing your own joy is causing something else pain. That would have been exactly what I would be doing had did chosen to ride an elephant, or simply partaken in one of the many animal encounters that are out there. I know that my exact experience wouldn't have been the straw that broke the camel's back, but in participating I am encouraging and promoting a cycle of cruel animal welfare. This is supply and demand. As long as someone is demanding the experience, there is always going to someone supplying it - and that someone doesn't necessarily have the animals' best interests at heart.
People love to interact with animals and I am most definitely one of those people. If you follow me on social media you understand because I'm constantly posting pictures of my perfect pup, Augusta. She loves to play tug of war, chase birds, sniff frogs, run, & snuggle. If I could spend every hour of my day with her I would. For as long as I can remember, I have been an animal lover.
However, animal lover isn't always synonymous with animal advocate. As an animal lover, I enjoyed going to the circus, under a veil of ignorance to what the animals actually endure on a daily basis. After researching this and other "normal" animal interactions and seeing animals in chains, being whipped, and sometimes beaten & killed, I knew that I could no longer support animals for human entertainment.
So what can you do to be one hundred percent positive that you won't contribute to an animal's suffering? Research. It is the single most important thing you can do to ensure that you will not put an animal at risk for your enjoyment. You can also look for reputable organizations that are backed by other animal activists. Or, if you can't find any reputable information on an organization, simply skip out on it. If there isn't anything good to say it's probably a sign. Knowing what I know now, I would never be able to interact with an animal without first knowing that it is well taken care of and secure. Now I know to think, Why is this animal being housed here? Why are humans allowed to interact with them? Are they treated in a humane & nurturing manner? If I or others partake in this interaction, how does it benefit the animals? When I know the answers to these questions, among others, I am able to make an informed decision that I, and the animals, can live with.
A blogger that I follow, Jessica Stein of Tuula Vintage, recently traveled to Sri Lanka. While there, she was able to visit an elephant nature reserve that was genuinely that: a reserve. The animals were able to walk about freely in pastures with their own young, and had been rescued from the hands of poachers or other negative situations. Humans interacted with them from a distance, simply observing. She shared that in her experience in Sri Lanka she came across "several organisations marketing themselves as 'orphanages' that mistreat the elephants; keeping them locking in chains and being ridden as tourist attractions." She then urged her followers to be "more mindful" and "to only consider seeing them from afar on safari, in the wild where they belong."
Not all people are so concerned with the well-being of animals, and their platforms are sometimes extremely influential, such as Jessica's blog, Tuula Vintage. She happens to be a traveler who points out important happenings, like the elephant reserve in Sri Lanka and other "orphanages" & their implications. This is why research is important - there is so much misleading information on the Internet, and not everything you see is genuine.
If you consider yourself an animal lover take it to the next step and be an animal advocate. Research and educate others on what you find. The more people who know, the lower the demand and, ultimately, the lower the supply. Travel consciously, and leave only footprints.
Hi, I'm Madeline
Blogger, teacher, writer, traveler, reader. Welcome to Mad's Muses!
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