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It has been over three years since SATSA released its extensive research on animal interactions and the locally born toolkit to evaluating captive wildlife attractions and activities, which is based on an ethical framework and easy-to-use ‘decision tree’, allowing for the widespread use by the industry, individuals, or companies to make subjective assessments and tourism choices.

The research that was conducted to develop high-level suggestions for legislative intervention and regulation resulted in a signature approach to captive wildlife, which has consequently been espoused in the Whitepaper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in South Africa. SATSA’s original intention of developing a long-term vision for South Africa’s tourism industry regarding captive wildlife in tourism, and ultimately propositioning South Africa as an ethical tourism destination, remains.

The association’s position has always been that the SATSA Guide and Tool for Evaluating Captive Wildlife Attractions and Activities would evolve as a practical framework to guide attractions, operators, and tourists in line with this long-term vision.

While SATSA encourages the adoption and use of the toolkit across the industry, SATSA wishes to clarify that the association is not responsible for the assessment outcomes reached in the use of the SATSA Guide and Tool for Evaluating Captive Wildlife Attractions and Activities by any individual, organisation, business, or private initiative and confirms it plays no role, does not endorse and is not accountable for the conclusions reached by these subjectively. Considering this position, SATSA wishes to expressly state that the application of the Guide and Tool by the entity WildChoices is an entirely independent initiative with no involvement on SATSA’s part. WildChoices used the tool as a framework against which it has subjectively evaluated attractions and activities.

SATSA has been approached by several of these which assert that they have been incorrectly assessed by WildChoices, without being given the opportunity to engage with them.

SATSA explicitly distances itself from these assessments made by WildChoices and confirms it has no relationship with the organisation, nor is associated in any way with the initiative. SATSA sees the benefit of reviewing the Guide and Tool regularly and adjusting it as required. The issue of captive wildlife attractions and interactions remains a complex, contentious, and emotionally charged issue. Available on the SATSA website, the study and resultant guide and tool explore the intricacies of captive wildlife in tourism and detail how the succinct design of, and 6 questions in, the Tool were reached, with attention given to the reason why the animals are in captivity in the first place; the source of the animals; the use of the animals while in captivity; and the likely destination of the animals.

Click here to read more about the SATSA Animal Interaction Guide & Tool.