Wildlife Tourism Campaign

£3,229 of £20,000 goal

Raised by 84 people in 6 months
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

The industry

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.

The Project

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, Mirror, Metro, Huffington Post , Dodo  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
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Latest leg of my journey to document cruel Wildlife Tourism is complete. Please ensure you like my Facebook page for further updates. Once again, thank you for your donations: together we will stop the cycle of abuse :-)
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Dear all

Sorry for being a little quiet on the reporting front. An intense period of travel has seen me visit 4 countries to document Wildlife Tourism abuse. Hoping to release the stories over the coming weeks. Again, your donations help to make this work possible, so thank you.

There have also been some very exciting developments in terms of the Raise the Red Flag platform which I hope to share soon.

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram or my professional Facebook page for more updates.

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Dear all

I am currently travelling around a new destination, gathering imagery from more sub standard zoos.

Please do make sure you follow my pro Facebook page - Aaron Gekoski, Environmental Photojournalist - so you stay up to date with the latest news and view photos when they're released.

Thank you again for your support - this project is made possible because of you. And don't worry, am staying safe as possible.

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Dear all,

Apologies for not posting in a while - it's been a rather busy couple of months. However things are progressing nicely, so I want to provide you with an update.

We are currently in the midst of designing the global platform so tourists can "Raise the Red Flag" and report abusive operators. This is a complex reporting system that will take some time to perfect and launch...however it's looking AMAZING and I'm hugely excited about the impact it could make.

In the meantime, I will be travelling to two new destinations next week with my camera, to report on animal abuses there. This is a top secret and delicate mission and I will release the imagery when the time is right.

In terms of the film project, we are still some way off our target. I will be pitching for further funding, which may take some time. But rest assured, I'm doing everything possible to make it happen.

As I am experiencing ongoing costs with this project, I am requesting to divert some of your kind donations into both the website and my upcoming trip. Both are integral parts of this project and the funding is much needed.

However, should you have any problems with this, just let me know and I would be happy to hold your donation to one side.

Thank you again for your support.

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£3,229 of £20,000 goal

Raised by 84 people in 6 months
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