WildChoices assists local and international tour operators, agents, and individual travellers to make informed, ethical choices about captive wildlife tourism facilities in South Africa.

HOW IT WORKS

WildChoices identifies the captive wildlife facilities* in South Africa that offer tourist attractions and activities including interactions and volunteer programs, and assesses them by applying the publicly available SATSA Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities Decision Tool published in 2019, to publicly available online information about the facilities and their activities.

The Tool is in the form of a decision tree (see below) that guides the user through the rapid assessment of a facility against a series of qualifying and disqualifying criteria to help decide which captive wildlife tourism facilities to support and which to avoid.

The assessment process results in one of three possible outcomes: Support, Support with Caution, or Avoid.

Neither the list nor the assessment results are static and are updated with any new information to keep the list and assessment result current. No online information prior to 2018 has been considered in the assessment process.

For the full SATSA Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities Guidelines click here.

For the full SATSA Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities Decision Tool click here.

**Captive wildlife facilities are defined as facilities that keep wild animals in a human-made enclosure that is of insufficient size for the management of self-sustaining populations of the species and designed to hold the animals in a manner that prevents them from escaping and facilitates intensive human intervention or manipulation in the provision of food and/or water, artificial housing and/or healthcare.

BACKGROUND

The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) is a non-profit, member-driven association representing the Southern Africa region’s tourism private sector. It has over 1,000 members including accommodation establishments, airlines, attractions, transport operators, conference organisers, marketing organisations, tour operators and destination management companies.

At SATSA’s annual conference in August 2017, members raised concerns about the proliferation of captive wildlife attractions and activities in South Africa, and the negative impact that unethical facilities might have on tourism and brand South Africa.

In 2018 SATSA established a Board Committee on Animal Interactions and commissioned BDO South Africa, an independent consulting firm, to:

  1. Define the types of entities that fall within the ambit of captive wildlife interactions including standardising definitions and terminology;
  2. Develop an ethical framework to evaluate operations that involve captive wildlife interactions to underpin the debate and establish the principles upon which the ethicalness of animal interaction operations may objectively be evaluated;
  3. Develop a set of guidelines for the self-regulation of captive wildlife tourism experiences.

In November 2019 SATSA published their Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities Guidelines and Decision Tool.

In 2021 Brett Mitchell and Gavin Reynolds, both members of the 2018 SATSA Board Committee, founded WildChoices.

WildChoices launched in March 2022 with a list of 219 assessed facilities.