CONTENTS PAGE 3
ANIMAL WELFARE AT ASIAN TRAILS
OUR COMMITMENT TO RESPONSIBLE ANIMAL INTERACTIONS
RESPONSIBLE MARINE LIFE VIEWING AND FISHING
PAGE 12 CAPTIVE ANIMALS PAGE 14 CAPTIVE ELEPHANTS PAGE 17 ELEPHANTS: TO RIDE OR NOT TO RIDE? PAGE 18 OUR PRACTICAL APPROACH TO ELEPHANT CAMPS
PAGE 20 OUR ACTIONS ON THE GROUND
Animals are beautiful and unique living beings that call our destinations home. At Asian Trails we understand that tourist interactions with animals can have positive and negative impacts on the animals themselves. We care deeply about animal welfare and know that you do too. This document outlines our commitment and actions to ensure we make responsible decisions regarding the supply chain partners we work with and activities we promote.
OUR VISION â&#x20AC;˘
Destinations where tourism makes positive contributions to the conservation of animals and does not harm their welfare;
ANIMAL WELFARE TRAILS OUR MISSION
• Research and understand responsible animal-related tourism according to international standards and best practices • Raise awareness among our staff and supply chain partners about animal welfare and conservation • Develop and promote positive and meaningful experiences with animals for our travelers • Train our tour guides on animal welfare best practices • Continuously assess and work with our partners to ensure the best possible practices • Contribute to responsible tourism in all our destinations
OUR COMMITMENT FIVE FREEDOMS
TO RESPONSIBLE ANIMAL INTERACTIONS
Asian Trails ensures that the internationally-recognized ‘Five Freedoms’ are being practiced by our partners offering activities involving interactions with animals. The ‘Five Freedoms’ outline five standards of care that affirm every living being’s right to fair and humane treatment: • • • •
Freedom from hunger and thirst – a healthy diet and access to fresh water Freedom from discomfort – safe, comfortable and spacious shelter Freedom from pain, injury and disease – the provision of healthy living conditions and regular health checks with treatment Freedom to behave normally – opportunities to interact with animals’ own kind and positive relationships with humans Freedom from fear and distress – an environment free from mental suffering and the ability to seek privacy/refuge
RESPONSIBLE ANIMAL INTERACTIONS
DO NOT PROMOTE
Activities that involve cruelty to animals Sites with poor animal welfare standards Performances or shows involving wild animals Meat or products from animals that are endangered or under threat Hunting in any form Fighting between animals and other forms of ‘animal sport’
Asian Trails prioritizes viewing animals in the wild over in captivity. Our destinations have a rich biodiversity and we believe that seeing animals in their natural habitats is the best way to admire, appreciate and learn about them. Such encounters can also make for travel memories that last a lifetime!
GUIDELINES FOR SAFE
AND RESPECTFUL WILDLIFEVIEWING National Park rules and guidelines are respected Animals are observed from a safe distance so their natural habitat and behaviour are not affected – no contact between humans and animals is initiated Animals are not chased – vehicles stick to designated roads and do not go off-road Animals are not fed in the wild, or lured by food The use of artificial light (during night time excursions) and sound is restricted Impacts of human activities on the natural environment of wildlife are kept to an absolute minimum and no natural objects are taken from the environment Wildlife is exactly that – wild, and we strive to protect the animals and environments in which they live in by only promoting responsible wildlife interactions that adhere to the above guidelines.
MARINE LIFE VIEWING AND FISHING
Many visitors that travel with us will spend time in and on the water. We want to ensure that snorkeling and scuba diving experiences are both enjoyable and low-impact. Marine ecosystems are extremely important to our natural environment but acutely fragile to human activity. We act to protect these ecosystems, especially the beautiful and precious coral reefs which are particularly susceptible to harm from tourist activities.
RESPONSIBLE MARINE LIFE VIEWING
• Diving operators have a valid operating license • Marine life should not be fed, or lured by food • Marine life, eggs and coral should not be touched, and special care should be taken to ensure coral is not stepped on • An adequate distance is kept from marine life at all times and they are approached in a cautious manner i.e. from the side • When taking part in a conservation program involving the release of turtles, baby turtles should never be touched with bare hands – gloves must be worn at all times to avoid disease transmission and other negative impacts • No natural objects are taken from the marine environment
FISHING Asian Trails appreciates that many communities in our destinations rely on fishing for their livelihood. We aim to preserve the local culture by promoting and supporting community-based tourism projects. We only partner with communities that respect the following guidelines on sustainable fishing: • No catch and release activities for the purpose of entertainment • No fishing in marine national parks or other protected areas • No fishing of any protected species listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
We prefer wild animal viewing experiences as the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;wildâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is where animals belong. However, we accept that a large number of captive animals exist in our destinations due to the prevalent domestication of animals in local cultures, and loss of habitat. We only partner with suppliers offering captive animal experiences that create positive environments for the animals themselves, contribute to conservation, and educate tourists and local communities.
OUR • • • • • • • • • • •
GUIDELINES FOR CAPTIVE ANIMAL EXPERIENCES
The attraction has a valid legal license for the activities they are offering Animals were acquired legally in accordance with national legislation Animals have access to sufficient food and water at all times Animals live in spacious and acceptable conditions that meet international standards and allow them to behave naturally Animals have sufficient time and opportunities to socialize with their own kind Animals are not trained to perform for tourists or forced to join tourism activities Animals have regular health checks and constant access to professional veterinary care Animals in poor health are not involved in tourism activities Animals are not drugged to facilitate their participation in tourism activities Working animals are not overworked and have sufficient rest, food, water and shelter Strict safety regulations are in place and enforced to protect animals and visitors
SOCIETY The treatment and use of captive elephants in the tourism industry in Asia is a pressing ethical concern for us. There are over 10,000 captive elephants in Asia and elephant-related activities have been an important source of income for local communities for hundreds of years. Furthermore, elephants have historically been revered and are culturally significant to the extent that many still seek blessings from and make offerings to them. They have fought wars on behalf of ancient kings, helped construct temples and continue to play an important role in human society.
In recent decades, the most common form of employment for elephants has been logging. However, many Asian countries recently banned this practice for environmental reasons, leaving many elephants â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;unemployedâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. These elephants can not simply be released into the wild because deforestation over several years has reduced their living space. The same applies for captive-born elephants who grow up with humans and would struggle to survive if released into the wild spaces that remain. They will need professional care for the rest of their lives. This leaves owners struggling to generate the approximately US$50 per day it costs to keep an elephant healthy. Some have since turned to tourism activities as an alternative form of revenue generation. Without it, the owners would not have enough money to keep their elephants healthy.
POLICY ON ELEPHANT
CAMPS AND SANCTUARIES At Asian Trails we believe it is our duty, and that of other tourism stakeholders, to support communities that depend on elephants for their livelihood and whose elephants depend on their owners to provide for them. We are sensitive to the inter-dependence between elephant and human populations where we operate. As a priority, we promote camps and sanctuaries which have been established for the primary objective of caring for retired working elephants, rescuing abused elephants and/or working for the conservation of the species.
We believe this to be the best way to support the conservation of the species and the local communities that depend on them for their livelihoods.
RIDE OR NOT TO RIDE?
Many travel companies around the world have decided to boycott elephant camps offering any type of riding. Asian Trails does not take the same approach. Rather than boycotting all camps offering rides, we only offer elephant experiences that have been audited and approved according to strict, independent welfare guidelines, namely the:
ELEPHANT CAMP ANIMAL WELFARE & SUSTAINABILITY STANDARD AND ASSESSMENT INITIATIVE This has been organized by Travelife for Tour Operators in partnership with PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association), Animondial and the Asian Captive Elephant Working Group (ACEWG). It provides a trusted and reputable framework for us to base our offering on.
PRACTICAL APPROACH TO
We work with all stakeholders to address the issue of elephant welfare in a way that will contribute to the overall conservation of elephants. As a DMC with a strong presence in our destinations, we have made it our responsibility to leverage our local connections and presence on the ground to work directly with elephant camps that ensure the elephants and local communities who depend on them benefit from tourism.
GUIDELINES WE ADHERE TO
An elephant should not work for more than four hours per day and requires a significant break every hour to feed and drink water Elephants should not be under direct sunlight for extended periods of time and working during the middle of the day from 12pm – 2.30pm should be avoided The maximum carrying load of an adult elephant on its backbone of 150kg, the equivalent of two light adults and a mahout, is respected It should be mentioned that most of the sites approved following official audits do not offer rides. In addition to the sites approved based on the previously mentioned framework, we also promote those listed on World Animal Protection (WAP)’s ‘Best Practice Elephant Venues List’ and Asian Captive Elephant Standards (ACES)’ accredited list.
OUR ACTIONS GROUND
DEVELOPMENT Our Product teams in all destinations refer to the aforementioned guidelines as part of the product development process and work closely with supply chain partners. We only promote experiences that impact positively on animals and make a positive contribution to their conservation and that of the natural environment on which they depend.
We train all our sales teams to know what an animal-friendly tourist experience looks like. Our regional office representatives are happy to share with you information about our meaningful animal experiences in their destination.
We train our tour guides on our animal welfare guidelines so they can convey these to travelers to promote responsible tourism on the ground.
OUR ACTIONS SUPPORT
FOR INDEPENDENT AUDITING ORGANISATIONS
We promote the work of trusted third-party organizations to contribute to responsible animal tourism and conservation in Asia.
NO TO ILLEGAL WILDLIFE PRODUCTS
We encourage our suppliers not to sell meat or products from animals that are endangered or under threat, and refuse to work with those that do not comply. We circulate our detailed policy on ‘Illegal Souvenirs’ to all supply chain partners and clients.
Asian Trails 9th Floor, SG Tower, 161/1 Soi Mahadlek Luang 3 Rajdamri Road Lumpini, Pathumwan Bangkok 10330, Thailand firstname.lastname@example.org www.asiantrails.travel/responsible-travel/
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