Imagine seeing brown bears in the wild. A Mother with her cubs, teaching them to fish for salmon in the streams. Think how you would feel to see the slow and steady walk of a herd of elephants. Magnificent bull elephants leading their herd, mothers gently tending their young. Tigers living freely, being the incredible animal they are. Well sadly, these things are steadily becoming endangered. Every week we see another story of how animals are being abused or exploited. Thankfully there are amazing people out there trying to stop this! Protecting Wildlife is gaining in momentum thanks to growing awareness.
World Animal Protection Uk , (formerly World Society for the Protection of Animals) are one such organisation increasing this awareness. They are tireless in their quest to bring a voice to animals. They take action against cruelty and suffering and are passionate in their cause. So, when I was recently contacted by them to see if I would like to become one of their ambassadors, I replied as fast as my fingers could type, with a resounding yes! As an ambassador, I will be adding my voice to the amazing band of Team Animal ambassador’s already creating noise, (Binny and Sam are just two of the others, I actually interviewed Sam last year on the blog) I am so blooming proud. In this post, I wanted to introduce you to the charity, and some of the amazing success stories they have had. Prepare to be in awe of what they have achieved in protecting wildlife.
Protecting Wildlife – What do WAP do to help ensure this?
World Animal Protection work with a multi pronged approach. Education, policy change and raising awareness is high on the agenda. Offering a helping hand to animals affected by disasters is another of those prongs. When natural disasters strike a country, the animals can be forgotten as victims also. However, in addition to the animals needing help to ensure they don’t suffer, they are usually a fundamental part of getting the area back on its feet! WAP works with Governments and International Bodies to try to ensure that animals are included in the natural disaster plans put into place.
The disaster work carried out by WAP includes emergency vet treatment, animal evacuation and reuniting animals with their owners. They also help areas to be prepared for future problems. Educating communities in caring for their animals, building and strengthening animal shelters, and running vaccination programmes.
So World Animal Protection really do try to cast their net wide in looking after our wildlife. They work to protect animals in communities, farming, animals in the wild and animals caught up in disasters.
Some of the amazing success World Animal Protection have had in protecting Wildlife
I will never forget seeing a bear in chains in a documentary about the cruelty of bear bating. The bear looked totally beaten by life, like he had given up. His eyes were cast down, his entire body slumped. They ring through his nose crusted with blood. It stayed with me forever. World Animal Protection have been working for over 20 years to rescue captive bears.
Sadly, many of the bears cannot return to the wild as they are far too traumatised. WAP works on instead, giving these beautiful bears a safe place to live out their years in peace. Sanctuaries in Romaina and Pakistan are sometimes the first place that a bear will feel grass beneath his feet. The only place he would have experienced woodlands. Imagine that! Being denied everything that comes natural to you.
There are currently over 80 bears living in safety in these sanctuaries. World Animal Protection have also stopped bear bating events, improved enforcement laws in Pakistan around bear baiting and dancing, and working hard towards ensuring that no more bears enter the captive bear industry.
What can you do to help end cruelty to bears?
Adopt a bear – From just £1 a week, you can help support one of the bears living in the safety of the Sanctuary in Pakistan.
Educate yourself – Understanding what these bears endure will ensure you do not fall into the trap of supporting these cruel trades.
Helping Make Our Sea’s Safe
I am pretty sure by now, you know the effect that single use plastics etc have on our planet. I wrote a little about reducing single use plastic when you travel, last year. The amazing Blue Planet documentary, with the wonder that is Sir David Attenborough, helped highlight the crisis we are facing. But, these plastics are not the only risk to our oceans. Discarded fishing lines, nets and ropes (known as ghost gear) are responsible for around 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles getting injured or killed each year. In 2014, WAP launched the Sea Change campaign. It’s aim is to protect marine wildlife from this discarded floating danger.
Then, in 2015, following on from that success, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) was launched. World Animal Protection worked tirelessly to get the big food giants, (Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s to name just a few), to join the GGGI. This has lead to so far, over 100 agreements from Governments, seafood industry leaders and private sector players to commit to ocean conservation. There is also now “clean up armies” in place to retrieve rubbish from the seas, and educate fisherman to prevent anymore harmful discarded fishing items entering the oceans.
How you can help #SeaChange
Beach Clean Up’s – Take part in any beach clean ups that may be going on in your area. Pick up rubbish that you see on any beaches you visit.
Donate – The Sanctuaries that are trying to rehabilitate and care for the sea life injured by Ghost Gear need our help. The Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary are trying desperately to build a new seal unit.
Protecting Wildlife – Thai Elephants
I had spent many months in Thailand in my younger years. Every where you went Elephant rides were being sold. There were many “elephant sanctuaries” touting their horn’s at being an “elephant orphanage” or “elephant rehabilitation”.
In truth, many of these were just a glossy name for what they really were, wildlife tourism facilities. We never went to any of them, as even then, (20 plus years ago), I knew elephant rides were cruel.
Thankfully, tourists and travel lovers have got wiser. We now know that Elephants should not be in captivity, ridden or exploited. There is so many articles and elephant friendly guides educating us on what elephants go through in this cruel trade. No longer are we tolerating photos on Instagram of people riding elephants, or bathing them. The message is slowly but surely filtering through.
Thailand is recognising this intolerance also. World Animal protection have been working tirelessly with tour operators and “elephant camps” to educate them on abolishing this cruel industry. In 2019, one such camp completed its journey to being truly elephant friendly. ChangChill, (based in Chiang Mai) has stopped the elephants residing there from being ridden, bathed or directly fed by tourists. Instead they offer tourists the opportunity to observe the elephants just doing what elephants do. They have built an observation deck, overlooking the sanctuaries valley. They still get much needed funds in to support the sanctuary, but without any detriment to the elephants what so ever.
World Animal Protection are confident that other elephant camps in Thailand will follow suit. With thousands of elephants still living in captivity in Thailand, any step forward is a massive victory.
What can you do to help protect elephants?
Be Aware – Never, ever contribute to this awful industry. Remember that many places will claim to be “a sanctuary” or have the best interests of the elephant at it’s heart. If a place allows you to ride the elephants, avoid like the plague!
Donate – Just £6 a month could help end the lifelong torture of elephants in the tourist trade. Supporting vital campaign work means that this invaluable work to cease this industry can continue.
My role in protecting wildlife as a WAP ambassodor
I will be writing regular posts on the blog around wildlife issues. As I learn and increase my awareness with World Animal Protection, I will be passing that knowledge on to you. You can expect to see a post in this series on a monthly basis. I truly believe that awareness and education is the way to eradicate the terrible animal tourism trade. There are very few of us that set out to be cruel! We are sometimes just unaware or naive about the reality. I wrote a post about some of the mistakes I have made while travelling. I would NEVER deliberately be cruel or support these awful industries. We all make mistakes. Spreading awareness helps others not make the same ones!
World Animal Protection are constantly working on campaigns and ways to save wildlife. I can only imagine that it must feel like a relentless slog. There is always a new area to try to make positive changes in and you can see their beliefs just here. We need the passion of these organisations to bring the issues to light. Look at how seeing wales and dolphins in captivity is not acceptable with most of us now. That is the power of education. We are aware, we are learning. I will be adding my voice to these campaigns. As an ambassador they can guarantee that I will bring my passion to the table. Animal rights have ALWAYS been an area I have been a part of, ever since my teenage years. I could not be prouder to be a part of the Team Animals crew.
Understanding ways to save wildlife is all about education.
As ever, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. There will be no judgement here. If you have unwittingly been a part of the animal tourism trade, please feel free to share. We can all learn from each other.