THURSDAY 24 SEP 2015 9:00 AM


From package tourist holidays to budgeting students and hippy travellers, South East Asia has long been a popular destination for those wanting to see more of the world. Countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in particular have seen visitor numbers increase exponentially in recent years, in part due to the unique wildlife experiences on offer.

With a proliferation of social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, images of wildlife such as elephants being enjoyed up-close by backpackers have caught the imagination of Western tourists. Internet access is becoming increasingly prevalent in these previously less well connected parts of the world, leading to higher information dissemination. This results in a higher demand for these certain types of tourist activity.

For wildlife charities, edited images of beautiful foreign shores and tourists enjoying themselves with seemingly contented wild animals are posing new issues for external communications departments. An attempt to disparage the illusion of well-treated animals held in acceptable conditions is made difficult by the love many people hold for animals, and their desire to get as close as possible to wildlife such as elephants.

Yet one charity has mobilised its communications department to do just that.

World Animal Protection, a London-based conservation charity aimed at eradicating global animal cruelty, has launched a campaign aimed towards stopping the use of animals such as elephants in tourist entertainment. Using the slogan ‘Wildlife. Not entertainers’, the charity hope to raise awareness of the plight elephants across Asia and Southern Africa face in the provision of entertainment for tourists.

With the production of an animation by visual storytelling agency Nucco Brain, World Animal Protection has launched a film to highlight the suffering elephants in these industries face. Set chronologically, the animation follows the life of an elephant captured and trained to provide entertainment for travellers. Of particular concern to World Animal Protection is how this practice is spreading across southern Africa.

Collette Collins, deputy director of communications at world animal protection, explains, “With this animation we can educate and open up the public’s eyes to the cruelty behind elephant riding, and inspire them to be a part of the solution by joining the World Animal Protection wildlife movement. We chose to tell our story through an animation to convey this complex issue in a simple way. We know that people don’t know about the suffering of elephants in entertainment, so we needed a creative way of getting our message across.”