Travelers beware: in many countries exotic animals are used as tourist bait. On our recent trip to Mexico, a man with a darling, but exhausted, lion cub approached us on Playa del Carmen’s main drag. Offering a photo opp with us holding the precious cub, the young man was eager to make some pesos. The cub, with its droopy eyes, lacked the energy you would expect from a cub, only a few months old. On display for tourists, it probably had little time to rest or get the exercise needed to grow properly. We said no to discourage this use of exotic animals, but quickly realized that we had made a mistake before. We hadn’t given it a thought when we had been approached to photograph a small monkey, but a lion cub caught us in our tracks.
Please watch out for scoundrels using wild animals as tourist attractions and don’t pay them.
We didn’t photograph the captive cub but thought you would enjoy this photo of a happy, healthy cub in its native environment in Botswana.
By Michelle Alten
There is a problem with where the buffalo roam and it is this: these migratory mammals don’t understand that they are supposed to stay in Yellowstone Park. During our Yellowstone trip, I spoke with activists talking to visitors about the government sanctioned hunting and hazing of buffalo near the park’s boarders. Here is the problem: nearby ranchers are concerned that bison may spread brucellosis to their livestock, but the Buffalo Field Campaign contends that there are no documented cases of such transmission. (Although there have been cases where elk passed brucellosis on to cattle.) In order to prevent contact between buffalo and cattle, the government allows buffalo to be hazed, captured, and killed. According to the field campaign, hunters killed more than 3,750 buffalo since 2000 when they approached or crossed the park boarders. The dilemma continues as to how to protect a species that wants to roam.
To learn more about the Buffalo Field Campaign visit: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/
This article discusses the situation last winter: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/04/yellowstone-buffalo-slaughter
The Natural Resources Defense Council summarized the problem in 2008. http://www.nrdc.org/land/files/buffalo.pdf