Is the BIG PICTURE of animal welfare influencing travelers? What else can be done?

This year's World Lion Day, on Monday, August 10, and World Elephant Day, on Wednesday August 12, come at a time when animal welfare and conservation are at the forefront of many peoples' minds, forced into public awareness with news of Cecil the Lion's untimely demise.

But away from the social media-fuelled cycle of shock and anger, and despite the tireless efforts of responsible travel campaigners and bloggers, it's unclear how well the messages of animal welfare and conservation are reaching travel consumers and changing behaviour where it counts. 

Elephant riding remains popular, as do swimming with captive dolphins and petting caged big cats, along with countless other less news-prone activities that campaigners would prefer to see banished from tourism for good.

To mark these important days, we'll be discussing animal welfare issues and more, in conjunction with an #RTTC (Responsible Travel and Tourism Collective) twitter chat on the same topic.

The #RTTC chat, called "#WorldElephantDay and animal welfare" will take place twice on Wednesday, August 12, at both 06:00 and 18:00 UTC. To participate simply follow the hashtag on Twitter and chime in as the discussion unfolds.

In the days after the twitter chat we'll be inviting a few expert hosts and everyone else over to us here on Outbounding for a slower-paced follow-up discussion that looks more deeply at the questions facing us in this challenging, but supremely important, debate.

Expert hosts who have agreed to participate include Stuart Butler (Walking with the Maasai), Diana Edelman (saver of elephants), Jeremy Smith (Travindy) and Vicky Smith (responsible tourism / trained ranger).

Please join us for both the #RTTC Twitter chat and the follow-up discussion!