Animal Interactions, and when you should say no! | Jumbari Family Safaris
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Animal Interactions, and when you should say no!

Cheetah at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre

Africa’s breath-taking natural landscapes and legendary wildlife have attracted the adventurous traveler for centuries. Nothing quite compares to the thrill of seeing wild animals in their natural environment and for some, the closer the better. Unfortunately, not all animal encounters are ethical. According to World Animal Protection, 75% of wildlife tourist attractions worldwide have a negative impact on wild animals. From elephant back safaris to petting a lion cub, what may seem like an innocent encounter, is, in reality, exploiting wild animals through encouraging unnatural behavior. 

Jumbari Family Safaris stands firmly against animal interactions of any kind and our team of experts ensures that all wildlife experiences that we curate are ethical. We will not support any circuses, zoos, elephant back safaris, lion walks or any activity that allows touching of wildlife, especially when there are young animals involved. To help you become a more conscious traveler, we have put together a guide to why you should say no to animal interactions when traveling to Africa and beyond.

Tip: All activities that allow animals to be touched, train animals to perform or force animals into unnatural behavior, such as riding are strictly unethical.



Caretaker with elephant orphans | Ethical wildlife experience at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Ethical animal interactions

Although there are an array of unethical animal experiences in Africa, our team took extra care to find ethical wildlife sanctuaries and rehabilitation facilities that are genuine – usually taking in orphaned animals as a result of poaching with the mission to return them to the wild. If you want to get up close to Africa’s wildlife with conservation as focus, we recommend visiting the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Jabulani Safari elephant encounter, Sanctuary Baines Camp elephant encounter, AfriCat Foundation, Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, Born Free Foundation and Cheetah Outreach. 


Rhinos at ethical wildlife organization | Photo credit Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre

Wild animals are just that – wild

Wild animals should be able to roam freely in their natural habitat and not be confined to so-called ‘sanctuaries’ or parks that promote petting. Animals confined to these environments become habituated to humans and dependent on us to provide them with food because they are unable to hunt. It is likely that these animals will never be able to be integrated into their natural habitats. 



Lion cubs in the wild

Petting lion cubs plays a role in a dark industry

When a cub is born in captivity, it can never be rehabilitated back into the wild. But, what happens to these cubs when they are too big to be petted by tourists? Grown lions are sold to the canned hunting industry and are hunted in their pens with no chance of escape. From here, it only gets worse with illegal trading on the black market to all corners of the earth.


Ethical lion encounter at Shamwari Private Game Reserve | Photo credit Born Free Foundation

Taking selfies with a wild animal is unnatural

Animals that are used for photographic opportunities have often been taken from the wild, are sometimes sedated and harshly trained in order to ‘behave’. 


Ethical elephant encounter at Jabulani Safari

And what about elephant-back rides?

Tourists often only see one side of the story. Although elephants might seem to comply with letting you ride on their back, you should ask yourself how it came to be that this wild animal, (who is known to be dominant in the animal kingdom), will allow us a seat at the top. In order for elephants to accept riders, they are often chained in confined spaces and mistreated until they accept to allow people to sit on them. Institutions offering elephant back rides for tourists exploit elephants for their own benefit and often don’t allow them time to rest.

If you long to witness Africa’s wildlife, a safari is the way to go. Our team of expert consultants will help you curate an ethical itinerary and allow you to create a positive impact on Africa when you travel. Get in touch with our expert consultants to start planning your responsible family safari today.

Want more tips on how to be a conscious traveler? Read how to be a responsible traveler on your African safari here.