Members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum Formally Distance Themselves from WILDCHOICES

A formal communication was delivered to the owners of WildChoices and the South African Tourism Services Association on Wednesday 7th of December 2022.


The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA), is a network of thirty-one diverse South African NGOs that share certain values, knowledge and objectives, and that collectively comprise a body of expertise in various fields in South Africa, from scientific, conservation, and welfare, rights, tourism, social justice, indigenous rights, public advocacy sectors and the law.

The South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) is a member-driven, non-profit association representing the private sector. In 2018 SATSA established a Board Committee on Captive Wildlife 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; and,
  3. Develop a set of guidelines for the self-regulation of captive wildlife interaction tourism experiences.

In November 2019 SATSA published their Captive Wildlife Attractions and Activities Guidelines and Decision Tool which is endorsed by a number of organisations.

Apparently, in 2021, two members of the 2018 SATSA Board Committee, Brett Mitchell and Gavin Reynolds founded WildChoices which is owned by Wildly Adventures (Pty) Ltd (reg No: 2020/635217/07), to identify and assess all the captive wildlife interaction facilities in South Africa using the SATSA Guidelines and Decision Tool.

According to the information on the website: ‘WildChoices assists local and international tour operators, agents, and individual travellers to make informed, ethical choices about captive wildlife tourism facilities in South Africa’. WildChoices employs the SATSA Decision Tree to make its assessments.
After receiving complaints about various listings on the WildChoices website, WAPFSA conducted internal research and discovered numerous potentially problematic listings, for example, WildChoices has listed zoos, petting zoos and facilities that have traded wild animals as places to “support with caution”.

WAPFSA organisations do not support the captive wildlife industry, especially where animals are utilised for entertainment and/or breeding for trade.
It is an additional concern that animal welfare issues and trophy hunting are not considered in the SATSA Decision Tree.

As testimony to the fact that this Tool is faulty and inaccurately applied, a Member of WAPFSA has been wrongly listed on the WildChoices’ website. To be more specific, the Global White Lion Protection Trust (“GWLPT”) has been listed as a facility to avoid”. GWLPT is a non-profit, non-commercial organisation, and not a tourist facility – and therefore does not qualify for listing in the first place. Some of our members have objected to this inaccuracy to WildChoices and have asked specific questions of relevance, which have not been answered by WildChoices.

Until such time as these errors are corrected and the Tool is vetted by WAPFSA as a valid measure of unethical establishments, we as a forum cannot support or be associated with this initiative. We therefore formally distance ourselves from the WildChoices listing.


Image Credit: EMS Foundation

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