David Marneweck, Manager of the Carnivore conservation Unit at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), says his organisation and the head of South African Tourism want to bring an end to wildlife petting industry.
Marneweck says the EWT does not support petting programmes because they do not provide a conservation benefit for carnivores.
Some of the issues surrounding that are around the animal welfare in these facilities, about the overall conservation impact, aspects of public safety and the fact that a lot of these places are not very transparent in terms of what they do and what happens to these animals at a later stage in their lives.— David Marneweck, Manager of the Carnivore conservation Unit at the Endangered Wildlife Trust
Marneweck adds that some of the problems in the the industry is finding facilities that operate under false claims that they assist with conservation or rehabilitation. He says that processes of when and how animals are released back into the wild should be carefully policed.
These places don't actually re-introduce those animals back into the wild. These animals are socially inept, they can't hunt properly. They have imprinted on human beings which means that they have aligned human beings with food. Which causes serious obvious public safety issues.— David Marneweck, Manager of the Carnivore conservation Unit at the Endangered Wildlife Trust
Marneweck says the EWT manages and coordinates the re-introduction of many large carnivores such as cheetahs and wild dogs back into the wild.
However, none of these facilities have contacted his organisation for assistance with re-introducing these animals back into their natural habitat.
Really what we're trying to promote is large areas of space where we can re-introduce these carnivores back into wild and have both local and international communities benefit from seeing these animals surviving naturally in the wild. Unfortunately there is a lot of money in this cub petting type of industry.— David Marneweck, Manager of the Carnivore conservation Unit at the Endangered Wildlife Trust
In 2015 legislation was passed, prohibiting groups from removing large carnivores‚ such as cheetahs‚ from the wild.
Marneweck says it great that they have the support of SA Tourism but wishes for more support from the public to push government to enforce adequate legislation.
Listen to the full interview in the audio below: