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Following the recent incident at the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Dinokeng Big Five game reserve in Gauteng, where a young woman aged 22, was mauled to death has motivated the tourism industry to further regulate captive wildlife facilities.
Managing Director at Fair Trade Tourism, Jane Edge, says there is a need for the industry to have set guidelines around captive wildlife operations. Fair Trade Tourism is in the process of drafting such guidelines, which will be released in the coming months, she explains.
“Tour operators and the trade should insist that these places [captive wildlife facilities] undergo a comprehensive risk assessment and make these available to their trade partners.” She adds that Fair Trade Tourism’s four principles, namely, Animal Welfare, Human Welfare and Safety, Conservation Benefit, as well as Transparency and Ethics, govern its operation.
It was such incidents that reinforced Blood Lions’ call to end all commercial exploitation of predators in the country, Blood Lions said in a statement shortly after the incident.
It further read: “Lions are a wild species and should not be kept under conditions that reflect them as domestic, tame or playthings for our entertainment. To do so has little to no conservation benefit for the species, but it does put human life at risk and is not in the best welfare interests of the animals. Ultimately, it is why we also call for an end to the commercial and non-conservation breeding of lions and other predators.”
The woman, not a guest at the camp, was accompanying her friend who was conducting an interview for an assignment with the camp’s manager. Before leaving, the two visitors were taking photographs just outside the camp where the attack occurred.
Richardson, dubbed the ‘lion whisperer’, paid his condolences to her family and friends in a statement. “Myself and an experienced colleague took three lions walking in the reserve, as we do on a weekly basis, as part of their exercise and stimulation regimen. We assessed the landscape for other Big Five animals and, as per procedure, sent out a notification that we were walking in the reserve. One of the lionesses charged off after an Impala and must have run two to 2,5km, where she encountered the 22-year-old outside her car.”