“For a photograph of you and me, my family was killed”

Wildlife in Tourism Campaign

A campaign to stop the poaching of wildlife for the tourist torturing entertainment in Thailand.

Having a picture taken of yourself with a gibbon on your shoulder, an eagle on your arm, a python around your neck or a tiger’s head on your lap. This might sound like a strange and even dangerous practice to most of us, but unfortunately for a lot of others it is seen as a nice souvenir of a holiday to Thailand.

Not only is the use of animals for entertainment inhumane and unacceptable from an ethical point of view, but also extremely damaging from a conservation perspective.

Most of the wild animals exploited for tourists are poached from ever-decreasing wild populations, if this continues then there will be none left.

The Facts – Reasons why you should not support the “photo-props” on your holiday

Almost all are poached from the wild; a complete family of gibbons will be killed just to obtain one baby gibbon.

The animals suffer greatly – they are often drugged, mistreated and passed from one stranger to stranger all day and until late into the night.

Most animals can only be used when they are young and therefore are dumped by their owners when they mature and become aggressive – natural behaviour for an wild animal – or too large to handle.

Having a photograph taken with a tiger at any venue, even the infamous “Tiger Temple” does not help the conservation of the species. These practices are merely a way to make money and further exploit the poor animals that are regularly drugged and beaten to make them more docile for the visitors.

Some people, as well as some gibbons, carry diseases that can be transferred from animals to people and vice versa. You can actually get deadly diseases from these animals such as TBC and Hepatitis-B if you kiss and hug them or don’t handle them professionally. Lorises, those cute bundles of fur photographers use as props, have particularly sharp teeth and toxis saliva; one bite from them could lead to severe blood poisoning.

The Fiction – Myths about Wildlife in Tourism

Wildlife Myth 1The owners are very poor people that would not be able to make a living without the animals...

This is nonsense. They are actually people who are usually well off and have the right connections to continue this illegal business. Their profits on Phuket and Samui amount to over 200 dollars a night, a small fortune in Thailand.

Wildlife Myth 2The animals love the attention from people and have a special bond with the owner…

Not true, most animals have been forcefully taken away from their families in the wild and are very scared and dependant due to basic fear and stress. Gibbons are known to be given sleeping pills to keep them quiet during the day and a beating every now and then by the owner keeps the animal in line with his “expectations”.

Wildlife Myth 3The animal was bred in captivity and/or is legally obtained…

No. Although it is not impossible to breed wildlife in captivity there are no legal breeding facilities in Thailand that hand over, sell or lend out wildlife to third parties. Besides all this, a poached animal from the wild would always be cheaper than buying one from any legal breeding facility if one were available.

Wildlife Myth 4The animals are treated with care and best intentions…

Out of sight of the tourists this is a different story. The animals are kept on short chains or confined to tiny, barren cages and receive little or no veterinary care. They are malnourished and imprisoned as slaves for their short span of useful life, then killed or abandoned to make way for the next money making animal. In the case of tourist tigers, many are illegally traded to be killed and used for ‘medicine’.