The newly launched ethical wildlife company, WildChoices, is set to assist both the tourism trade and consumers to make informed, ethical choices about captive wildlife attractions and activities in South Africa.
WildChoices applies the SATSA Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities Guidelines and Decision Tool, published in 2019, to assess captive wildlife tourism facilities based on publicly available information about their attractions and activities.
The Tool comprises a six-step decision tree that delivers one of three outcomes: ‘Support’, ‘Support with Caution’ and ‘Avoid’.
“We were determined to take the publication of the SATSA Guidelines and Decision Tool one step further, by identifying and then assessing 219 captive wildlife facilities in South Africa,” says Gavin Reynolds, who founded WildChoices along with Brett Mitchell.
“Our assessment outcomes are mapped and delivered in a sortable table containing facility name, province, assessment result, and the answers to the decision tree questions to make it easy for tour operators, agents and individual travellers who don’t have the time, knowledge, experience, or confidence to apply the tool themselves,” explains Reynolds.
“The table of facilities is searchable by facility name (or part thereof) which further enhances its utility.”
A ‘passion project’ by Reynolds and Mitchell, the launch of WildChoices followed months of research to identify and then assess captive wildlife facilities across South Africa. Their next step is to gain funding to enable actual physical site visits to the assessed facilities to compare and contrast the publicly available and online information with in-situ realities and truths.
Further, WildChoices will keep on top of new information that enters the public realm to keep the list of facilities and assessment results current.
“Our vision is to be the go-to site for verified information on captive wildlife facilities in South Africa, and assist users to make informed, ethical decisions on who to support,” asserts Reynolds.
“The fact that both of us were key members of the team who developed the original SATSA Guidelines and Decision Tool, together with our relevant industry experience and expertise gained over 20-plus years, gives our work a high degree of credibility.
“We believe that we can make a meaningful impact on the quality of moral decision-making by tourism companies, tourists and facilities themselves and, in so doing, make a positive impact on South Africa’s reputation as a choice destination for ethical wildlife tourism,” Reynolds concludes.