Animal welfare

Regrettably, tourism can often play a significant role in contributing to animal mistreatment.

We strongly advise against the involvement of our travelers in any activities that take advantage of wild or domestic/working animals. In 2014, we eliminated elephant rides from all our tours, and we prohibit any activities where passengers can pet or walk with wild animals, like lion walks in South Africa. Our stance is that wild animals should be observed without any contact or interaction, doing what they naturally do best: living in their natural habitat.

Our animal welfare guidelines

We uphold that animal welfare should adhere to the Five Domains, globally recognized principles designed to safeguard animals under human care.
These domains include:
1. Nutrition – ensuring the animal has access to adequate, well-balanced, diverse, and clean food and water.
2. Environment – providing a setting conducive to comfort, considering factors like temperature, ground cover, space, air quality, odors, noise, and predictability.
3. Health – maintaining good health by preventing disease, injury, impairments, and ensuring optimal physical fitness.
4. Behaviour – offering a range of stimulating environmental challenges, including sensory stimulation, exploration, foraging, social bonding, play, retreat opportunities, and more.
5. Mental State – fostering a positive mental state through beneficial experiences in the above four domains, aiming for positive feelings such as joy, comfort, or vitality, and minimizing negative states like fear, frustration, hunger, pain, or boredom.
We recognize that wild animals' welfare is often compromised in captivity. Captivity should only be considered when it is in the animal's best interest, and the animal receives the highest standards of care.
In 2012, we collaborated with World Animal Protection on a comprehensive research study focusing on the welfare of captive elephants. To put it simply, elephants are wild creatures, not domesticated, despite the numerous videos you might find on YouTube showing elephants painting, kicking balls, or even playing the piano (yes, this actually happens). Elephants utilized in tourism are in captivity; they are frequently restrained and undergo harsh and painful 'breaking' methods.
Horses, donkeys, and camels are recognized as domestic or working animals. These are the only types of animal rides included in our trips, and only when the animals' wellbeing is assured beforehand. Key aspects to consider include:

When using donkeys or camels on our trips, helmets are usually not provided to travelers. It's important to ensure that the animals provided are calm and move slowly.
Travelers should select an animal that matches their size.
Animals should not carry more than half of their body weight, and even less in hot conditions or on steep terrain. If extreme temperatures occur, animals should not be used for riding.
General indicators for assessing the condition of domestic/working animals before riding or walking with them:

🔴 The animals should appear well-nourished.
🔴 Their coats should be healthy and free from sores, particularly around the mouth, shoulders, spine, and belly, as these areas are often in contact with harnesses. Hidden wounds may also be present under saddles or harnesses. Wild animals should never be used for riding purposes.
🔴 The animals' eyes should be clear, bright, and show alertness.
🔴 Handlers should not employ physical force, such as hitting or beating with crops, sticks, or hands, to manage the animals.
🔴 Travelers should refrain from feeding the animals.
🔴 Inspect the animals for signs of 'firing', a practice where their legs are burned with red-hot metal under the guise of 'traditional healing'.
🔴 Avoid overloading horse-drawn carriages.
🔴 Do not ride with more than one person on a horse or donkey.
🔴 Consider your own weight when choosing an animal to ride; select one that suits your size and weight.
🔴 Compliment owners who maintain their animals in good condition.
Currently, across Africa, thousands of lions and other predators are bred in deplorable conditions for activities like cub petting and lion walking. We deliberately avoid these venues on our trips and urge our travelers to steer clear of places that exploit animals for entertainment. Despite seeming fun and educational, with some even claiming conservation efforts, these practices are unnatural and stressful for the animals involved.

Many travelers are unaware of these practices. The 2015 documentary 'Blood Lions' exposed the grim reality of predator breeding. SAHARANSKY has partnered with the Blood Lions team by signing their 'Born to Live Wild' pledge. This pledge commits us to never knowingly collaborate with operators who offer lion walks, cub petting, or similar interactive wildlife activities that perpetuate the breeding and exploitation of lions in Africa. Additionally, it's our promise to educate our travelers and the wider community about these exploitative industries.
At SAHARANSKY, we strongly advocate for experiences with wildlife that involve no contact and no interaction. We believe that wild animals should be observed in their natural habitats, don't you agree? The key is to witness nature in its purest form, unaffected by human presence. Avoid calling out to animals, whistling, or attempting to attract their attention – such noises can be disturbing and stressful for them. Just watch them in their natural behavior. Additionally, it's crucial that our drivers and guides do not use their vehicles to provoke movement in animals or drive off-road for a closer view.
In certain parts of the world, you might encounter locals who have captured wild animals for tourists to take photos with them for a fee. We strongly advise our groups NOT to engage in such activities, as the treatment of these animals is uncertain. Questions arise like: Are they being drugged? Are they adequately fed? Are their living conditions appropriate? As a rule of thumb, if it's not a purring cat or a dog with a wagging tail, it's best to walk away. The photo opportunity is not worth it.

Additionally, we discourage visits to places offering animal shows, 'selfie' experiences, or direct interaction with wild animals. Often, the animals in these settings are either captured from the wild, bred in harsh conditions, separated from their mothers at a young age, or subjected to harsh training methods to make them docile and perform on demand. Supporting these venues contributes to the ongoing cycle of animal cruelty.

Get in touch

If you have any concerns, you can contact our support team online or over the phone.