Assessing Animal Welfare

By Stephen Blakeway

As a tourist how can we assess whether the animals we see have good welfare, and ideally, ‘a good life’?

Recently, I’ve been a tourist in Mexico and Jordan, and, having contributed to ‘Tourism and Animal Welfare’, I took the opportunity to think more about this question. As my interests are animals and their relationships to us, each other, and their environment, I spent a lot of time observing.

In Petra in Jordan when I was visiting, I accidentally came too close to a dog who was asleep by a donkey among a group of other donkeys, and he jumped up and went berserk at me. I quickly moved back while the donkey placated him by rubbing his head against the dog’s flanks and neck. The dog, leaning into his companion in apparent ecstasy, licked the donkey’s nose and settled back down to sleep again.

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In Petra, Jordan, a donkey placates his canine friend who has just woken with a fright. Photo taken by the author.

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School expedition gathers data on biodiversity in Mexico

Scuba quadrat Scuba quadrats. Image credit: David H. Williams, Rye St Antony

Our guest blogger this month is David Williams, who is the Head of Science at Rye St Antony School, Oxford. He recently led a group of schoolgirls on an Operation Wallacea expedition to Mexico, where they took part in a conservation project which involved conducting mammal surveys and assessing the impacts of tourism on turtle populations and coral reefs. David tells his story as a diary looking at events over the two-week expedition.

I was delighted to be asked to blog on this subject. One of my student’s parents works at CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International) – an organisation that focuses on the environment and biodiversity. As an editor at this organisation, she saw the opportunity to highlight the work of schools and conservation. I’m keen to promote science both as a career and as an interest for life, and feel that this is best done by encouraging an appreciation of science as a real, relevant and ongoing subject. My story starts here …

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