Is hugging helping or hindering?
A recent article casts doubt as to whether operations such as walking with lions are really contributing to conservation
There is certainly potential for the tourism dollar to be used for assisting conservation, especially when it brings in animals-lovers and adrenalin-junkies who may not be so inclined to contribute their dollars to less charismatic creatures. But how much of it is genuine? The article speaks of human-handled lions becoming problems to humans after release or being rracked by wild lions, and Peter Allison (“Whatever You Do, Don’t Run“) on his Facebook page tells of disturbing examples where animals are released not into the wild but in game parks to be shot by other tourists.
The article perhaps goes a little too far in implying that none of the animal-encounter experiences assist conservation, but it should make us a little wary. How though does the visitor judge the genuine-ness of conservation claims?