Picture: Colin Bell
Picture: Colin Bell
Picture: Audrey Delsink
Picture: Audrey Delsink
Johannesburg - All wildlife interactions, including walking-with-lions and cheetah petting at the  Polokwane Ranch Resort has been stopped.
Following an article  highlighting the property's involvement in the industry,  Protea Hotels by Marriott sales director Danny Bryer said: "Protea  Hotels by Marriott together with the resort can confirm that lion walks are no longer being  offered to guests and that no guests interact with cheetahs at the conservancy."
Protea Hotels had previously stated that the wildlife interactions would be halted, however  research revealed that these activities were being continued via a neighbouring business on the  hotel's shared conservancy. 
"In view of recent reports around interactions with wildlife at one of our hotels, we have undertaken  a full review and audit of our hotels," said Bryer. "We have learned more and have become aware of  additional measures we need to take to address this situation. We are currently in the process of  ensuring that these are fully implemented and followed at all our hotels."
Thompson's Holidays, the travel agent responsible for sending the newsletter marketing the  controversial activities at the resort, also distanced themselves from the hotel by removing  the property from their portfolio.
Cullinan Holdings Ltd, parent company of Thompson's Africa and Thompson's Holidays, said  the group could not be associated with any exploitative practices. Media  manager John Ridler said: "We support sustainable tourism  and strict ethical principles."

Picture: Audrey Delsink

Following the group's recommitment, the Blood Lions Campaign reaffirmed Thompsons Africa’s  status as an endorsed company for the Born to Live Wild Pledge, saying it holds the highest ethical  standards in the industry.
Thompson Holiday also said they will be working with the Blood Lions campaign to  educate employees from all sectors, "exposing them to the reality of wildlife interactions". Joanne Adolphe, Thompson Holidays CEO said the group especially wanted to reach  out to the younger employees in order to establish a new generation of responsible tourism  ambassadors.
Blood Lions said it would donate 200 copies of its award winning feature  documentary to Thompson's Holidays employees.


Campaign co-leader Ian Michler, said Thompson's response  would hopefully serve as an example to the wider tourism industry.
"There are close links between the wildlife interaction business and the canned predator and lion  bone industry where about 200 facilities hold approximately 6 000 to 8 000 lions and other big cats  in cages and captivity in South Africa.  It's a stain on SA's reputation that's not going unnoticed by responsible travellers. 
US traveller and big cat advocate Sheryl Schroeder  cancelled a booking at The Ranch after news of their  involvement in wildlife interactions.
"I cannot let a dime of my money go to anyone  who supports captive-bred wildlife and human interaction for profit." she said.
The Independent on Saturday