Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.
— James A. Froude
I was recently doing some research for a trip I’m planning to Southeast Asia when I came across some information on how tourism is affecting the plight of some species.
One of the first things that came up was the recent scandal about Tiger Temple. It turns out the famous monastery had been carrying out illegal wildlife trafficking and breeding and was selling tiger skins and derivatives to the black market. When authorities attempted to seize the monastery’s 137 tigers they found 60 frozen and bottled tiger cub carcasses and pelts and a cache of other endangered species parts and products. They also discovered tiger skins inside the abbot’s private residence during the procedure. I came across some videos online of monks physically abusing the tigers in front of the public, punching the animals in the face to make them respond for photographs.
That wasn’t all. When I was younger, if you would’ve asked me about some of my aspirations I probably would have told you that I wanted to ride an elephant. It’s a good thing I never got down to it. Can’t understand why? Google ‘phajaan’ and you’ll understand.
Lets be real though, you can never actually be certain. Beyonce and Jay Z were photographed a year ago in this now infamous Tiger Temple. How were they supposed to know? It received the 2015 Traveller’s Choice Award on Trip Advisor.
Its better to stay away from these places entirely. Its been years now since I boycotted circuses, zoos, Seaworld and any other organisation that works with animals for the wrong reasons. With that being said, its also important to remember the places that are there for the RIGHT reasons.
A few years ago on a trip to Kenya my family and I visited a conservancy that put the animal’s welfare above all else.
You’re probably thinking: But wait isn’t that what everyone thought about Tiger Temple? Yes, however there was actual footage and evidence of the tiger’s being abused publicly. There was also a number of occasions where visitors had actually been injured by the tigers; a similar situation to SeaWorld with some of the orcas having actually killed some of the trainers. There were so many tigers it was impossible to properly identify each one and track their records. You will soon learn about how this is different in this conservancy I visited and why.
Ol Pejeta conservancy is located in Kenya and is home to East Africa’s Largest Black Rhino Sanctuary. It is also the only place to see chimpanzees in Kenya.
After visiting the sanctuary I learned not only about the sadistic pleasures and methods implemented by humans but also the clueless and easily susceptive minds of the people who influence animal slavery. Some of the apes in the sanctuary were forced to perform on the streets and would then be locked up in a tiny cage for show.
This reminded me of that time I visited Marrakesh when I was younger. In the market I found Gibraltar’s native macaques, which I see everyday at home roaming wild and free outside my house, chained and forced to perform tricks. It made me so sad I couldn’t even eat.
When we first arrived in Ol Pejeta we were introduced to a blind Rhino named Baraka. Later on we visited the chimpanzee section which was the saddest part of all. They explained the life story of each individual chimp at the sanctuary, each one easily distinguishable by their scars and abnormalities that had formed throughout their brutal lives. One chimp in particular, named Poco, had the most moving story.
“He spent the first 9 years of his life in a cage suspended above a workshop in Burundi. Confined and used to attract customers, Poco had so little space he was only able to sit or stand on two legs – quite unnatural for a chimpanzee. Even today Poco will stand on his hind legs, especially when showing off to visitors.”
As unreal as it sounds its actually true — I saw it first hand. Imagine standing up for 9 years of your life! Sleeping, eating, excreting all in a tiny cage above a workshop.
Those of you who know me personally will know that whenever something disturbing comes up on my homepage, like dogs being abused or animals being tested on, I literally sit in a shower of sadness for days. The same thing happened when I watched 40 seconds of the Earthling’s trailer. I felt physically ill and continued to feel that way whenever I’d replay what I saw in my head. Everything I saw in Ol Pejeta was REAL and I really do recommend you visit if you ever visit Kenya.
If, however, you have no intentions to travel there check out their website and you can adopt a chimpanzee or rhino or donate some money.