February 2017, Birmingham
On Saturday 25 February, Born Free gave its support to a conference organised by Compass Ethical Travel focusing on ethical tourism and volunteering at home and abroad.
The event held in Central Birmingham brought together people from across the travel, conservation and volunteer sectors from the UK and further afield.
The President of the Born Free Foundation Will Travers OBE, opened the conference by focusing of the need to bring an end to animal cruelty and exploitation in the tourism industry and the importance of ethical volunteering in conservation at home and abroad.
Charlotte Lawson from Working Abroad Projects, talked about the growing professionalism of the ethical volunteering & travel business and how this was enabling more people to gain experiences travelling and working in valuable conservation projects around the world.
Cathy Smith from the Orangutan Project, told the conference that volunteers were a key part of the organisations work in Borneo & Indonesia. From helping build education centres to maintaining rescue & rehabilitation facilities, volunteers are a critical component in the fight to protect the future of Orangutans in the wild.
Hugh Felton from ABTA explained that the travel industry is listening to its customers on their concerns on animal welfare and exploitation issues.
He explained that ABTA had worked closely with Born Free and other NGO's to develop codes of good practise on animal welfare issues covering marine parks, zoos and safari parks and other animal attractions and experiences.
He told the conference that businesses which refused to implement these standards, risked losing the support of ABTA members and seeing a resulting fall in revenue.
Daniel Turner Associate Director of Tourism and EU Compliance at Born Free, focused on elephants to give an example of how one species is subject to mistreatment and exploitation across a wide range of tourist attractions. From zoo's with poor welfare standards, circuses where elephants are forced to perform acts which result in pain and suffering and riding with elephant experiences, which put both the elephants and tourists at risks, Daniel told the audience the level of suffering is widespread across the travel industry.
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust told the conference that the fight for wildlife begins at home and that the badger had become a key species for a volunteer movement which spanned the UK and brought together many thousands of people in badger protection groups from Cornwall to Scotland.
From badger rescue and rehabilitation to tackling wildlife crime, badger vaccination and opposing the badger cull, Dominic told the conference that volunteers are on the front line of badger protection in the UK today.
Following the presentations, Will Travers talked in more depth about the cruelty and exploitation behind the lion trophy hunting business which was followed by a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary 'Blood Lions'.
The conference finished with a wider debate between the panel speakers and the audience on UK and global wildlife protection issues and the huge pressure on wildlife from rapid population growth and the ever increasing human demand for land, water and energy.
Our thanks and appreciation go to Sarah Magalotti whose passion for wildlife spurred her on to contact Born Free with the vision of helping others to be responsible in their choices when volunteering.