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World Tiger Day: Are Souvenir Photos Worth The Cruelty Tigers Face In Tourist Spots?

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New Delhi (July 29, 2020): On the occasion of World Tiger Day, international animal welfare organisation, World Animal Protection is urging Indian tourists to travel responsibly and avoid visiting venues offering tiger shows and tiger selfies.

Young tiger cubs are separated from their mothers after two-three weeks of their birth. They are then cruelly trained for the entertainment of tourists. Photo credit: World Animal Protection

In Asia, there is a  problem of captive tigers in countries like Thailand, China and Vietnam. Although there are tigers in captivity in Indian zoos, no close contact with visitors is allowed.

In February 2017, World Animal Protection drew the attention of the authorities to a proposal to create a tiger petting zoo in Kolkata.

With more than a million Indian tourists visiting Thailand every year and wildlife entertainment venues remaining a popular destination for them—the people of India are in a position to make a significant difference for tigers, by not supporting the cruel industry. Tiger tourism starts with young cubs being separated from their mother two or three weeks after they are born. Trade of wild animals must end immediately. Wild animals belong in the wild. That’s why we are asking G20 nations to end wildlife trade forever,” said Gajender K Sharma, Country Director, World Animal Protection India.

We call on the people of India to be responsible tourists, and not visit tiger entertainment venues or take tiger selfies. Wild animals belong in the wild. They must remain in their natural habitat. In India, we are urging Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to support the global call for wildlife trade ban when he represents the country at the G20 summit. We also ask the Government of India to effectively enforce existing wildlife protection laws and stop the trade of wild animals and wild animal products.

Apart from this, World Animal Protection has also requested World Health Organisation to permanently ban all wildlife markets around the globe in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and to take a highly precautionary approach to the wildlife trade.

Representational image.

In 2016, we exposed the true scale of abuse that captive tigers were enduring at the hands of Thailand’s tiger tourism industry. Launched ahead of the International Tiger Day on 29th July 2016, the report “Tiger selfies exposed: A portrait of Thailand’s tiger entertainment industry” highlights the hidden cruelty and suffering in tiger entertainment venues across Thailand.

The report revealed a rapidly expanding industry, with a one-third increase in captive tigers (33%) in Thailand in the past five years. The growing number of tigers indicates ‘speed-breeding’ of captive tigers without any conservation benefits and means more tigers are born into suffering. As of 2019, it is estimated there are approximately 1570 tigers in Thailand.

The main welfare concerns witnessed by the investigators at these tourist venues were:

  • Tiger cubs who are separated from their mothers two to three weeks after they are born.
  • Young cubs being presented to tourists constantly viewed and mishandled hundreds of times a day, which can lead to stress and injury.
  • Tigers being punished using pain and fear in order to stop aggressive unwanted behaviour.
  • Most tigers were housed in small concrete cages or barren enclosures with limited access to freshwater.
  • One in ten tigers that were observed showed behavioural problems, such as repetitive pacing and biting their tails. Such behaviours most commonly occur when animals feel they cannot cope with stressful environments or situations.

Of the 17 tiger entertainment venues investigated in Thailand, Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Pattaya had the highest number of tigers in captivity. It is also the venue where the poorest animal welfare conditions were observed—with at least one tiger so thin its hips and ribs were visible.

World Animal Protection continues to press for proposing an amendment to the existing law, Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act, B.E. 2562, which would ban captive tiger breeding. The current stage is that our organization has already submitted the draft amendment to the Thai parliament, then 10,000 supporter’s signatures will be delivered to them today on World Tiger Day.

The aggravated risk to human health caused by close contact with wild animals in the wildlife trade and entertainment can no longer be ignored. Whether travelling abroad or in India, we urge people to treat India’s national animal with respect and compassion.

#EndWildlifeTrade: World Animal Protection is calling for an end to all wildlife trade, including tigers, by the G 20 countries. Please sign our petition to ban wildlife trade.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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