Wildlife selfie culture has become a global phenomenon in the recent times. Selfies with (safe) wild animals like sloths and tiger cubs are somehow made to look cute and have become an acceptable social media trend because a few more likes do no harm, right? But unfortunately, this is the worst us humans could do to these beautiful creatures. Have you wondered the impact these selfies are having on the wildlife? How many of us have actually managed to understand the anxiety and curiousness behind the smile of these poor species? Some wild animals are drugged, some are pulled out of their natural habitat and confined to dark rooms, and some are separated from their mothers, just so they can pose alongside tourists.
By encouraging wildlife selfies, you are doing nothing but creating opportunities of confining the animals to a specific place away from their natural habitat which is only cruel. A probe by World Animal Protection has revealed that Amazonian animals are being torn from the wild so tourists can take selfies for Instagram and other social media platforms.
The investigation further stated that 54% of the 249 attractions offered direct contact, such as holding the wild animals for photos or selfies.
Some of the animals including sloths, caiman and anacondas are often beaten in a bid to make them “safe” enough for humans to take selfies. These animals who are forced to be in the same frame with the humans are taken away from their mothers as babies and kept in inhumane conditions. Sadly, none of these issues are taken into consideration and people don’t even think twice before posing with the poor animal, indirectly contributing to animal cruelty.
“In Manaus, our detailed investigation of 18 different tour companies revealed that the opportunity to hold and touch wild animals as photo props was offered on 94% of excursions. It was actively encouraged in 77% of them. In Puerta Alegria, the opportunity to hold and touch wild animals as photo props for about US $15 was also provided at three different locations. We identified a total of 40 animals from 24 species,” a press release by World Animal Protection read as.
Sloths, pink river dolphins, anacondas, and caiman are the most common species which are widely used for taking selfies that go up on social media just for that one thumbs up. Sloths are believed to be the ones who undergo excessive exploitation. “In the wild, sloths typically live quiet, sleepy lives. Being constantly surrounded by noise and people they can’t escape causes them unimaginable stress. The poor diets people often feed them can compound this, making them weak or ill,” the statement said.The study has found that sloths are most likely to die within six months of their capture.
World Animal Protection has also come up with certain tips for the tourists and have divided selfies into two categories: Good Selfies and Bad selfies. An image recognition software is also being used to identify where people have posted these “good” and “bad” selfies.
If tourists are hugging, holding, or interacting with animals where are confined to a certain place you are taking a “bad selfie”.
If tourists are taking selfies with wild animals in their natural habitats who are not directly interacting with people and they are free to move, it is referred as a “good selfie”.
These animals do not deserve to be used as a prop. Let’s make an effort to keep these animals where they actually belong- into the wild.
Source: Wild Animal Protection