Keep your food to yourselves and make sure you have good containers if you are out camping.
A good national park will make sure people are aware to have a tidy camp, to leave no food accessible. What happens here is that if wild animals see human food lying around they become encouraged to get closer and closer each time to get a free meal. Eventually, this means trouble for us, and a probable ‘termination’ for them.
For instance, an elephant loves citrus –it’s like catnip is to cats– and wild elephants have been known to harass locals for them as they then associate humans with the treats. It’s also been known for elephants to have to be put down as they became a persistent threat through no fault of their own.
⚠ Once while volunteering in Africa, we had monkeys constantly trying to grab food when we were cooking breakfast at the campsite. The camp next to us loved it and commented that it was so cute and funny –they had thrown some food to them the previous day. More worryingly, as it was an open national park campsite we had a hyena snuffling around our tent at night trying to find food that had previously been left around by other people. It was not a good night waking up hearing that. Trust us, you don’t want that!
Animals do not eat the food we eat generally and it’s not good for them –as most of our food (organic included) can contain chemical compounds or trace of it and suchlike. Think about the fact that chocolate is a treat for us but poisonous to dogs.
Animals fed by humans usually [AMMPA]:
- Destroy the environment or cause property destruction. Bears are now regularly euthanized when they develop this craving for easy-to-get-human food (the bear article). Wild sea lions that have been fed by people have hauled out on docks and into boats, doing damage as they search for food.
- Get “hooked” on handouts. They can lose their ability to find and catch their own food. For example, dolphins that become dependent on humans have been known to abandon their young, leaving calves alone to starve and fight off predators. Young dolphins that have not been taught to forage naturally are at the most risk.
- Associate people with food and lose their fear of people. Wild marine mammals for instance that are unafraid of people are more likely to endanger themselves by approaching boats or spending time in areas with high vessel traffic.
- Become aggressive towards people. Feeding causes wild animals to change their natural behavior. Wild dolphins and sea lions that have become accustomed to being fed have charged, bitten, and otherwise injured people. Brazil coatis attack to list…
- Become more likely to eat trash and debris. Eating plastic wrappers or other litter can harm an animal’s digestive tract or lead to its death.
In short, feeding wildlife or not securing our food properly is detrimental to their health, can lead to their termination (death) and jeopardizes the safety of people.
Baiting has long been a hunting practice. Let’s not make wildlife viewing another form of hunting…
Don’t lure with food to trigger a reaction for all the reasons listed above. But also because this is a practice that is selfish and dangerous to them and us. Remember that your best shot will be natural shots arising from natural events, and it is from true wild events that you’ll gain a better understanding of the Wild.