Hey there adventurers! My name is Philippa and I am a vet nurse from New Zealand. I am also a wildlife conservationist and do a lot of fundraising and campaigning on the side to try and fight for the furry creatures of this world. I really enjoy travelling throughout different countries and love that you can learn so much about yourself. During my travels I have had the privilege to meet some beautiful locals too and learn some fantastic cultural traditions. I have also had some life changing experiences that I would never have had if I was to stay in the one place. I have recently spent 4 months travelling through different parts of South East Asia and had some incredible moments and some pretty nail biting intense moments too. I learnt a huge amount about a variety of animals through the region and also did some wildlife sanctuary volunteer work through Cambodia. I hope to share some of my stories and experiences with you all so as hopefully you can relive some of the crazy exciting moments too.
I am NOW a traveler against wildlife tourism exploitation:
As the intense blanket of heat hits me upon my descent from the plane in Bangkok, I have no idea that the next few months will be the most life changing of them all! My first couple of weeks is spent just taking it all in. Experimenting with the different cuisine and ended up trying foods that quite often I didn’t even know what they were and had never tasted anything like it my life. Got to try everything once I say, well, within reason. I tried my hand at a number of activities that I knew I would never get the opportunity to try ever again in any other part of the world. Downhill mountain biking through breathtaking Thailand forest, seeing gorgeous water ways and cliffs whilst riding atop an elephant and even ploughing rice paddies with the help of Susan the water buffalo. I was learning so much about this stunning part of the world and getting to meet some adorable locals that would give you the shirt off their back. My journey took me through several parts of Thailand, up towards Laos and then back down towards Malaysia and Singapore. A few dodgy bouts of food poisoning and a trip to the hospital reminded me I wasn’t in Kansas anymore so I ought to be on my guard when it came to food.
After 2 months of taking my time and experiencing a load of different cities I made my way to Cambodia where I was to start my wildlife sanctuary volunteering. This is where I began to realize that the thoughts in my head kept coming back to one thing. A lot of these activities and pastimes that travelers do revolved around wildlife. As I looked into it further, they all seemed to link back to the poor welfare or inhumane care of animals but yet these activities were been driven by travelers and tourists. Elephant trekking, Tiger temples, fish spas and crocodile leather farms all started to lead to these creatures living in dreadful conditions, having horrific things done to them for control, being linked to illegal organizations and even endangering wild populations. I know a lot of these countries are in a very different in many ways to western countries but surely these practices and organizations could be doing things differently for any creature to have a better life. Some of these countries have had some pretty rough histories and would do anything to turn it around to try and make a dollar but surely it doesn’t have to incorporate this awful, inhumane treatment of animals.
My time at the Cambodia wildlife sanctuary really made me want to change these problems that exist through Asia. An enormous issue that I just couldn’t shy away from was with the Asian elephants. So often these incredible creatures are taken from their mothers at a very young age and put through many days of absolute horrific acts of punishment and torture. These acts are done so as people can have control over the elephant whilst it is helping them carry mammoth heavy logs from the forest. The elephant is brutally punished every time it reacts or cries out from the hideous torture put upon it by its handler. When used for logging these beautiful creatures are put through hours upon hours of intensely physical work and forced to continue even with hideous ailments. Once these incredible beasts are no longer wanted for this work they are put to work in trekking camps, painting shows and streets begging. These activities are all encouraged with the support and desire of travelers to want to come to Asia and have a close encounter with one of these gorgeous creatures, and why wouldn’t you want to. I urge people to really truly think about this problem and whether you want to be doing an activity that supports such a hideous treatment of these creatures that really ought to be just left alone.
The Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary is run by one of the most incredibly dedicated woman on this planet. Her goal is to give these elephants a happy, peaceful, pain free life that they have always deserved. She has worked so hard her entire life to make this happen for so many elephants and she will continue to do so for the rest of her time. I have a link here for this amazing organization. This issue needs to be spread worldwide for things to change. . Please, you got to check it out, it’s a must!
Get Educated! Get T.A.W.T.E .
(Travelers against wildlife tourism exploitation)