Although nomads have used camels to travel through trade routes in the Moroccan and Arabian Deserts for thousands of years, animal activists have in the recent years come out to strongly condemn what they perceive to be it the commercialization of the practice for the benefit of tourism.
PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals) has taken the stance that all forms of camel riding are cruel and abusive. However, the group is known for their extreme views despite the issue not being so black and white.
More reputable groups, such as the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), rather than condemning camel riding altogether advise travelers to only ride camels that are kept in responsible and ethical conditions.
It is therefore not surprising that when Moroccan– American model Ashley Graham decided to upload on social media a photo of herself and her mother camel riding during a recent vacation to Agadir Morocco, social media was abuzz with many criticizing the model for promoting animal cruelty.
Poor camel. Please don’t support harmful animal tourism,” one of the top comments read.
I hope you read your comments and start to understand that half of your followers are against riding animals and it is a form of animal cruelty! These animals have no choice when it comes to being ridden, they are slaves to their masters who only care about their bank accounts and not the animals themselves.”
I hope you educate yourself about these industries and how these animals suffer year after year for humans to get their video/selfie. #animalsarenotentertainment,” commented one of the most disappointed users.
In recent years, animal activists have been questioning the morality of “animal tourism,” as camels often have to be trained to bear riders through discipline and whipping.
Another user commented that the constant tourist rides are bad for the camels’ knees, although very little research has been done into the subject.
I went to Morocco and people were getting on and off camels every couple minutes and they were forced into their knees repeatedly and you could just tell they were hurting plus. Basically trying being forced to do squats incorrectly every day all day, you’re going to ruin your knees. I refused to get on them. I’m all for horseback riding and other things in moderation, I don’t think that’s abusing animals, however the way I’ve seen camels be treated, I would have to say I think it’s very inhumane,” said the user.
Despite the backlash meted out against the model, others have come out in her defense arguing that people have become overly sensitize when they really ought not to. They argue that there are more pressing needs in the world that require our attention.
Why is everyone on her case? I don't see people batting an eyelid when this same thing happens in Dubai. She has not killed these animals, " one user stated.
I don't see the so-called animal rights activists condemn their own people. They are only vocal when it comes to Africans and Africa. Leave the woman alone," said another user.
Header Image Credit: Ashley Graham