First off I use the words traveler and tourist interchangeably, so take your pick. In our travels we sometimes come across a situation where we end up interacting with performing animals. I have to admit I became conscious of the issue only gradually!
I derive a lot of pleasure from visiting national parks. I have been lucky to visit many in India. I have been to one each in South Africa and Thailand. It is a joy to watch a wild animal in its natural habitat. I am slightly phobic of all animals, so I anyway enjoy them at a distance.
But what about animals that perform in the circus? Or for that matter that are raised to entertain tourists! To take an example elephants are wild animals, they are awe inspiring when seen in their natural habitat. On their own they will never do any tricks that they end up doing in camps or circuses. Some form of cruelty is involved to make an elephant perform the tricks which are contrary to their natural behavior. One common instrument used to tame them is the bullhook. You can search about such practices and then take call on whether you wish to support them or not. No one in their right minds would actually support it. We visit such places out of ignorance mostly.
The second issue that came to my mind was of performing marine animals, particularly dolphins. I have seen dolphins only once in the sea in Goa. I got a fleeting glimpse of two of them swimming together. I immediately smiled at the sight. I am not so sure about performing dolphins though. And whatever I read about it doesn’t look good either. I would say go for dolphin watching (or any other marine life) in the wild rather than going for a show.
I once went on a husky ride in Lapland, Finland. I went back to look at the treatment of the dogs and I found that running around in a pack is not contrary to their behavior. There are laws governing the treatment of the dogs in many countries. However, taken to the extremes even this can turn dangerous to the animals. I read of an incident in Canada where a business owner killed his huskies in a cruel way because his business fell in volume and the business no longer needed the dogs.
What are your views on performing animals? Do share your thoughts.
This South African elephant was in a playful mood at the Manyeleti Game Reserve in the Limpopo region. They look so majestic. And all the rangers considered the charge of an elephant extremely dangerous.
An African Elephant Splashing Mud, Manyeleti Game Reserve
But for quite sometime on a lazy afternoon this one kept playing with mud and water. And I so enjoyed clicking it.
And tomorrow I should be back from Nepal and to live blogging. In the meanwhile here is another picture of the same elephant.
At Tintswalo Safari Lodge, three of us stayed at the Manor House. Manor House is about 5 minutes away from the main lodge by the safari jeep. We were always dropped to the lodge and we were severely discouraged from walking around on our own apart from the common areas in the main lodge. Manor House is a luxurious place with a private swimming pool. It is fenced off to keep the wild animals away.
Manor House, Tintswalo Safari Lodge, South Africa
One day while coming back from a safari I asked Erick if I could get by the pond near the Manor House and click the birds? He agreed. But he asked me to move into the fenced premises before he drove off to the main lodge. Later he came to pick us up for lunch.
The Open Deck used for Meals, Tintswalo Safari Lodge, South Africa
After a good meal we were taken back to the Manor House as we had some free time. I asked again, “could I go by myself to the pond and click some bird pictures?” The answer was a polite but firm no. Erick said, “It was not safe at all as some animal might stray this way.” I was a tad disappointed but I have never been reckless. So we decided to sit by the pool in a while.
Suddenly Asha called out load (she had the upper loft room) “Come here there is an elephant near my room.” Shalini and I ran and enjoyed the view.
An Elephant near Manor House, Tintswalo Safari Lodge, South Africa
Then I went back to my room and in a whileI came out by the pool. The elephant was now calmly drinking water from my bird pond where I wanted to go alone! I am so happy that I am not reckless and I did not venture out on my own to do any photography near the waterhole, I after all wanted to photograph birds and not an elephant! I also asked at the lodge if elephants could destroy the electric fence and they said they could if they want to, so can lions. But they said they are used to the fence and generally leave it alone! Thank god for small mercies.