We can all play a part in promoting responsible travel, says Trafalgar sales and business development director Rachel Coffey

Who doesn’t love animals? For many of us, seeing native wildlife in the countries we visit can be as important as exploring a destination’s history, food or culture. At Trafalgar we have seen massive demand for holidays that offer the opportunity to observe wildlife, such as Big Five safaris in Africa and tiger-spotting in India’s Ranthambore National Park. These are unforgettable, “pinch me” moments that highlight just how incredible travel and the natural world can be.

MoreTTC brands make travel pledge to mark World Tourism Day

Video: TreadRight backs #RefuseToRide elephant campaign

However, there is a big difference between responsible animal encounters and exploitative ones. Today, on World Animal Day, there has never been a better time to reflect on how we as an industry can make a difference, and ensure that travellers are making ethical choices when it comes to wildlife adventures.

Agents play a pivotal role in driving forward this change. By ensuring their clients book with companies that take responsible travel and sustainable practices seriously they can make holidays a force for good.

Agents should also be equipped with animal-friendly traveller tips that they can pass on to their customers to ensure they are aware of what to avoid when abroad, and how to enjoy enriching experiences without causing any distress to wildlife.

• Wild is best – view animals in their natural habitat and don’t initiate contact
Never ride an elephant – to train them they are taken from their mothers at a young age and physically and mentally abused
• Avoid aquariums or marine parks where large mammals are kept in captivity. These unnatural environments cause stress to these intelligent and far-ranging animals
• Never participate in cub-petting experiences; many are bred for the ‘Canned Lion Hunting’ industry, to be shot in captivity
• Do not attend festivals or attractions that subject animals to cruelty for entertainment
• Never purchase souvenirs made from wild animals
• Don’t take wildlife selfies if the animal is held, hugged, restrained, or if they are baited with food
• Before riding a horse, mule or donkey, match your size to that of the animal and ensure your weight is evenly balanced when riding
• Only visit and support animal sanctuaries involving wild animals in captivity if the objectives of the organisation are in the animals’ best interests (e.g. rehabilitation or release in the wild)

Protecting the world’s wildlife population is a key focus for Trafalgar – we want to #MakeTravelMatter. In partnership with our non-profit, TreadRight, we are involved in a number of projects dedicated to saving species most at risk.

These include partnering with Proyecto Titi to support reforestation and conservation of the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin in Colombia, and funding two light aircrafts used for rhino anti-poaching operations in Africa.

In South Africa we are supporting local farmers and the endangered Cape Leopard by introducing Anatolian Shepherd dogs for sustainable predator management.

It’s an unfortunate reality that much of the world’s wildlife population is balancing on a precipice, but we as an industry can all play our part in promoting of the importance of responsible travel. If we all make a commitment to do this today, on World Animal Day, we can help to protect our delicate ecosystem for years to come.

MoreTTC brands make travel pledge to mark World Tourism Day

Video: TreadRight backs #RefuseToRide elephant campaign