Known for its nature, culture and a whole host of wildlife, it’s no surprise us Aussies flock to Bali in droves every year. In fact, the little island is officially the most popular holiday spot for Aussies, with around 260,000 of us visiting annually.
This summer will be no different, and whilst we encourage everyone to appreciate the beauty of the island, we want to share our guidance on how you can make small but impactful changes to the way you holiday and protect a multitude of animals while you do.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP ANIMALS DURING YOUR HOLIDAYS?
Being prepared is the most effective way to avoid contributing to animal cruelty on your vacation, getaway, or adventure. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind.
❌ Do not feed, pet, or hold wild animals.
❌ Do not ride elephants or working animals who are not well cared for or treated badly.
❌ Do not visit animal shows and avoid wild animal selfies.
❌ Do not buy souvenirs or products made from animals.
Avoid animal based ‘entertainment’
The biggest positive impact you can make when visiting Bali, is by avoiding all animal-based entertainment or experiences that offer direct contact with animals.
Around the world, the vast majority of experiences and entertainment involving animals cause immense suffering.
Animals used in entertainment and tourism are often sedated or psychologically ‘beaten’ down to the point of submission to perform unnatural acts against their instincts. When their performances are over, the cruelty continues, with many spending their entire lives trapped in cruel, species-inappropriate conditions, like small concrete cages or crowded, stressful environments.
At-risk experiences include:
Elephant rides – Across Bali a number of places offering elephant rides call themselves ‘elephant sanctuaries’. This often leads to the confusion of tourists believing their money is going to a good place. Officially regulated sanctuaries will never encourage excessive interaction between humans and animals.
Selfies with tigers and primates – Similar to the unregulated ‘sanctuaries’ above, zoos in Bali are also less regulated. This means many offer experiences like tigers and primate photo opportunities. To ensure the animals remain ‘placid’, the animals endure a lifetime of cruelty and drugging, to ensure they remain compliant for human entertainment and interactions.
Civet coffee plantations – Civet coffee is a Balinese specialty, and when this is made ethically (where cherry beans which have been eaten and digested by wild Civets and then collected once excreted) no cruelty is involved. Sadly though, farmers have started catching civets and keeping them in small, crowded barren cages, where they exist on an unbalanced diet of coffee cherries. This coffee is then sold for profit to tourists, while the civet endures a cruel and caged existence.
Entertainment shows - This includes any experience where animals are forced to perform unnatural acts for human entertainment. There are several experiences across the island which feature elephant shows, where they are forced to perform unnatural acts, such as painting and playing football, or monkey shows, where animals are forced to dress as clowns, rides bicycles, or even box in a boxing ring, for tourist entertainment.
Do your research
FOUR PAWS Australia caution against solely using Trip Advisor or Google reviews, as the top rated or suggested places are not necessarily ethical and responsible avenues to enjoy animals.
“We know people visit these venues because they love animals, but what at first glance might appear to be an incredible animal encounter, or a nice souvenir, is often connected to a lifetime of pain and distress for the animals involved,”
“We recommend that you do your own research before visiting. An ethical animal tourism venue will be transparent about their practices, won’t encourage direct contact with animals, and won’t allow any breeding, trading or hunting of animals.”
Rebecca Linigen, National Director at FOUR PAWS Australia.
Be stray animal aware
It is not just wild animals that tourists should be aware of when considering their impact in Bali.
With rabies present across several animal species in the island, including bats, monkeys and dogs, it’s important to be aware of how to safely interact with Bali’s local dog population, and take extra care when travelling.
While FOUR PAWS and other organisations support efforts to eradicate the disease, it is important you also take care to protect yourself and the animals you encounter during your trip.
Rabies is a very serious disease, endemic throughout Southeast Asia, that is usually caught from the bite or scratch of an infected animal, most often a dog.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, and is fatal if left untreated
“Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating stray and owned animals, avoiding from wildlife or stray animals, and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start. Pre-exposure vaccines are also available for people at risk of being infected, but it’s important to always seek medical advice immediately if you are bitten while on Bali”
“Stray dogs are especially vulnerable to rabies, and often suffer with other health problems due to a lack of preventive medical care. That is why FOUR PAWS is active in this region, working with our local partner Bali Animal Welfare Association, to ensure as many animals receive rabies vaccinations and medical care, to protect them and also people travelling to this beautiful region,”
Matt Backhouse, FOUR PAWS Head of Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia.
To reduce the risk of bites, it is important not to approach or touch wild or stray animals. Rabid animals may behave strangely or seem unusually tame, but some may not show any signs that they are infected. Be mindful of approaching dogs or cats on the street and take care while running, cycling or riding motorcycles.
Avoid areas where dogs or cats are being kept, transported, slaughtered, or sold for the meat trade as these animals are often highly stressed, in poor health, and may bite or scratch if approached.
Avoid dog and cat meat
Travellers may have a desire to seek new experiences whilst abroad but be aware that some food items can have negative impacts on animals, your health or the communities and environment you are visiting.
For example, dog and cat meat is consumed in some parts of Indonesia and travellers should be aware of the evidence of the extreme cruelty and high risk and zoonotic diseases associated with the dog and cat meat trade. You can read our full report here.
In Indonesia, it is advised not to eat food items referred to as “B2” or “RW”, which are usually affiliated with dog meat.
Be an animal lover everywhere you travel
Many Australians would identify themselves as huge nature and animal lovers, and love seeing animals during their holidays. By following the above suggestions, you can avoid unknowingly supporting these systems of animal cruelty and animal abuse, and choose to be a champion for animal welfare, wherever and however you travel.
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.
Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au