WATCH HERE: Thailand's Wildlife Tourism Industry: An Introduction
Wildlife Tourism affects us all. At some point most of us will have visited a zoo, ridden on an elephant, been to an aquarium, or had a photo taken with an exotic animal. Yet what many don’t know is the cruelty that goes on – in front of our eyes and behind closed doors.
This project aims to lift the lid on abuse in the Wildlife Tourism Industry through:
1. Photographic and film exposés
2. A new global platform to report cruelty: Raise the Red Flag
Worldwide, more than half a million animals are suffering for our entertainment. Many have been stolen from their families in the wild to lead a life in captivity. Here they are often kept in unsuitable habitats, or otherwise dressed up, humiliated and forced to perform on a daily basis.
During training, many of the animals will have been subjected to beatings, burned with cigarettes or electrocuted to make them completely submissive to their handlers. Many elephants, for instance, will have been through ‘The Crush’ as juveniles - a form of torture to break their spirit. This has to stop.
Over the past year, I have visited some of the planet’s cruellest operators and worst zoos, documenting my findings. I’ve seen orang-utans forced into boxing shows, macaques made to ride bikes or perform tricks, tiger cubs used as photo props, a gorilla living in a filthy cell at the top of a shopping mall and much, much more.
My imagery has received a large amount of press coverage and has been featured on BBC World News, and in the Sun
, Metro, Huffington Post
and more. Now, millions more people are aware of cruelty for Wildlife Tourism. Whist it’s been a great start, I want to continue this mission and expand the reach of this project.
Why I need funding
I have been very lucky to receive funding from individuals all over the world, who have helped to cover the substantial costs I incur on assignment. For a typical shoot I will fly somewhere, hire a car, pay for food, accommodation and petrol, along with hard drives and entrance fees. I also like to bring a videographer along to capture footage. This all adds up. Your generous donations will help fund photography and film assignments, and media campaigns for this project.The Platform
The second stage is launching and managing Raise the Red Flag: a new global platform so tourists can report cruel operators. Research has shown that platforms such as Trip Advisor don’t do enough to combat the abuse, with 8 out of 10 people leaving positive reviews for places that treat animals badly.
This new platform will allow visitors to upload a photo and report of what they have witnessed. This will then be verified by one of our team, before being loaded onto the system as a Red Flag. When an operator has received enough Red Flags, we will notify the relevant authorities.
Whilst the supremely talented and generous Steve Dean (www.stevendean.com.au) has designed and built the platform pro bono, your donations will also go towards the on going costs such as running, monitoring and marketing RRF. My background
As an environmental photojournalist and filmmaker, I believe the media can create change and inspire others. I have spent the past decade behind - and in front of - the camera, working on stories of human-animal conflict. My work has been widely published and I'm fortunate to have won a few awards, including a category at this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year award.
Palm-Oil Survivors, winner photojournalist category, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017
Thank you for your support. I will keep you fully updated as this project progresses. Without you, none of this would be possible. Together, our voices are stronger. Together, we can stop the cycle of abuse.
Me, being thankful :-)
Learn more on www.aarongekoski.com
View productions on www.scubazoo.tv