Thursday, June 20, 2019
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Researchers find that safari tourists harm the health of elephants and make them violent

Tourists on the safari damage the health of elephants, terrifying them, causing them stress and making them more violent towards people and each other, says a new research.

Herds retreat to rest or feed as tourist groups emerge and photograph in jeeps.

And elephants are more aggressive towards other group members when a large number of people are around, the 15-month study found in South Africa.

Lead author Isabelle Szott of John Moores University in Liverpool said that elephant aggression has increased alongside tourism pressure, with men being more vulnerable than women.

"Tourists who want to observe animals in their natural habitat should be aware of their potential negative impact on animal welfare.

"The research should examine best practice standards to minimize such negative effects," said Mrs. Szott.

Observing elephants in the wild has become increasingly popular with travelers as awareness of the cruelty of riding the animals has grown.

Prisoner elephants trained with hooks to perform rides or tricks often develop post-traumatic stress.

Tourism bosses say the revenue from the safari industry protects elephants and their habitats.

Last year, a German tourist was kicked to death by an elephant when she wanted to take pictures of him in Zimbabwe.

The woman was in a group of tourists who came across a herd in the Mana Pools National Park.

In 2017, a trained elephant was shot dead after trampling a tour guide in Zimbabwe Victoria Falls.

Another local was killed in another incident when he tried to make elephants public for taking pictures.

A trend towards taking selfies with wild elephants in the eastern state of Orissa has also led to deadly attacks. Officials believe such incidents are on the rise.

Other people have suffered serious injuries when taking selfies with elephants.

Previous studies have found that wildlife tourism in animals, including rhinos, causes anxiety, alertness, aggression, alertness and stress.

Mrs. Szott, whose research results were published in the Journal of Zoology, said elephants at waterholes could experience frustration and stress and be attacked by other herd members, increasing the risk of aggression towards people in vehicles.

"We suggest that a constant minimum distance from the next person should be introduced, especially at the first approximation in animal tracking guidelines, to reduce the potential for conflict," she said.

Audrey Delsink, wildlife director of Humane Society International / Africa, told The Independent: "Animals can cause stress if the tour guide or the tourists get too close to the elephants, stepping between the females and the calves or cutting off the exit routes. This is an irresponsible behavior of humans that promotes negative reactions in elephants.

"Wildlife tourism should not be a problem in itself if it is governed by strict rules of conduct that govern how elephants are to be viewed, such as observation at a safe distance."

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