The welfare of pack mules working in the mountain tourism and expeditions industry continues to attract a great deal of attention. This weekend (18 November) the Royal Geographic Society will be hosting EXPLORE 2016. This special event is the Society’s annual expedition and field research planning weekend and is the largest gathering of its kind, bringing together a wide range of expert speakers and adventurers.
In 2016, EXPLORE is celebrating its 40th anniversary and we are deeply honoured that animal welfare in mountain tourism is, at last, on the agenda. This milestone is in no small part due to the pioneering work that The Donkey Sanctuary has championed over the last eight years. The welfare of pack animals working in mountain tourism is now recognised as a very real concern within the industry.
I am delighted that this is so and that I have been invited to contribute to the mountain and trekking expeditions workshop at EXPLORE 2016. This weekend of lectures, talks and workshops will appeal to a wide range of people from across the expeditions and travel sectors. It is being held at the home of the Society in Kensington, London.
Over the last two years we have been working with the Royal Geographic Society and the Expedition Providers Association to ensure that pack mule welfare is taken seriously. We have been active in promoting best muleteering practice as part of BS8848 (the British Standard for organising and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside the UK). This is the standard to which members of the Association operate.
Over the last two years we have been helping Association member companies and others develop mule welfare policies and train their staff in best practice. We are committed to supporting them as they implement their policies on the ground and are really excited to see the progress that is already being achieved by those trailblazing companies who recognise that they cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the local practices that cause so much suffering to mules and other pack animals.
Over the years ahead more and more companies will realise that they must take this issue seriously and find ways of protecting the welfare of the mules and muleteers they employ.