As a guide, I seek to set the highest standards in all that I do and I prefer to work with colleagues and partners who have similar values.
That is why I am proud to work for Wilderness Scotland.
Wilderness Guide, Glen Cousquer shares his passion for responsible tourism with an issue close to his heart as an example. He has been campaigning to improve pack animal welfare for years and sheds some light on this inhumane practice still going on today.
I know that if I am concerned about something Wilderness Scotland will listen because their care ethic reflects mine. When a problem crops up, we work to find solutions and create alternatives, refusing to accept the status quo. If something isn’t good enough, it isn’t good enough.
One has to recognise the problem, understand it and be willing to seek a solution. I am passionate about setting standards and standing up for what is right. I believe it to be the mark of a caring professional and a caring tourism industry.
The traditional bit.
Standing up for pack mule welfare in mountain tourism
Elsewhere in the world I am heavily involved in researching the welfare of pack animals in mountain tourism. My work focuses primarily on the Moroccan High Atlas. I have been working there since 2008 and have been able to introduce training in pack animal care to the national Mountain Guide training school. More recently, I have been able to work with the travel industry to help them better understand their responsibilities to the mules who do all the hard work while on treks and expeditions.
Up until now the industry had little understanding of the hardships endured by mules. Most people were oblivious to the cruelty inflicted on a mule by being forced to work in traditional bits. They had only a limited understanding of the impact of overloading on mules and what it takes to work them in a fair and sustainable manner. They did not see the suffering caused by the widespread use of tethering. They had no awareness of the underfeeding and dehydration that mules working for them were subject to. And without this understanding, they failed to take a stand against any of these problems.
Working with a number of partners, including The Donkey Sanctuary and the Expedition Providers Association, I am proud to say that we have been able to introduce new standards for mule care and welfare while on expedition.
Training is essential in any such initiative and we have been working hard to provide training for the travel agencies and their staff. Inspired by Wilderness Scotland’s dedication to in-house training and staff development, we have been encouraging responsible travel companies to sign up to training in pack animal welfare for their teams.
You can support this work by adding your voice to the call for the traditional bit to be banned. It must disappear from the mountain tourism industry and ultimately must be banned outright. Please sign the petition:
You can read more about this work by visiting the Kasbah Mules Facebook page or the blog I write for the Donkey Sanctuary:
Details of the mule welfare Leader Checks introduced for the expeditions industry are summarised in a new article for the Professional Mountaineer.
Thanks for reading. Do you have any issues around responsible tourism that are close to your heart?