Victory for animal rights campaigners as groundbreaking law targeting animal cruelty abroad is passed

27 Dec 2023
Ian Rogers KC

In a historic achievement for animal welfare, Save The Asian Elephants (“STAE”) has succeeded in its mission to prohibit the domestic promotion of brutal animal-related tourism practices worldwide. The Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act 2023 aims to stop the advertising and sale of unethical tourist activities involving animals abroad.

Duncan McNair, CEO of STAE and City law firm solicitor, expressed his gratitude to the millions supporting the campaign, calling the law a “momentous day for animals everywhere.” He emphasised the Act’s potential to protect endangered species globally, urging a transition from harmful practices to ethical sanctuaries and wildlife reserves. The ultimate goal is to redirect the market toward ethical tourism.

The Act marks a significant step towards ending the suffering of the millions of animals used for global animal entertainment. Travel companies will be prohibited from advertising and selling tickets for certain low welfare activities abroad to customers in England and Northern Ireland. STAE identified over 1,200 UK companies profiting from advertising nearly 300 brutal elephant venues alone. Duncan McNair and STAE’s tireless advocacy have resulted in a significant advance towards a future where animals are spared from the cruelty of exploitative tourism practices. The measures, resolutely implemented and enforced, will help protect endangered and vulnerable species across the world from extreme exploitation, harm and death.

STAE’s eight-year-long campaign has resulted in pioneering legislation that can be considered a world first, with the law having a global reach providing hope for numerous iconic species, not only Asian elephants, suffering for the sake of tourism worldwide. Other countries may now consider following the lead of this carefully drafted legislation, which received close Parliamentary scrutiny.

DEFRA will now compile a list of prohibited activities, with STAE coordinating efforts to present evidence.

In an example of how the instruction of counsel can assist in the Parliamentary process, Ian Rogers KC was instructed by STAE to advise and prepare materials on the Bill during its passage through Parliament, dealing with the legal issues which had arisen in Parliamentary debates.

A link to the Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act 2023 can be found here.