Tourists’ drive to get the most unique selfies is helping to cause suffering for some of the world’s most iconic animals, says charity World Animal Protection. The charity found that animals are being taken from their wild habitats, often illegally, and then exploited and injured so that tourists can take selfies with them. World Animal Proctection focussed on two cities, Manaus in Brazil and Puerto Alegria in Peru, finding disturbing abuse of animals.
According to the charity, it found: sloths captured from the wild, not surviving longer than six months; birds such as toucans with severe wounds on their feet; green anacondas injured and dehydrated; caiman crocodiles restrained with rubber bands around their jaws; a giant anteater, manhandled and beaten by its owner.
Steve McIvor, CEO, reminded travellers that ‘a once-in-a-lifetime selfie can mean a lifetime of misery for a wild animal’. He added: “Behind the lens, animals are being snatched from the wild and abused. Some of the species involved are threatened by extinction and many are protected by law. We are calling on relevant governments to enforce the law and travel companies and tourists to abide by them.”
The charity also studied social media trends surrounding animal selfies, and found a 292-per-cent increase in wildlife selfies posted on Instagram between June 2014 and June 2017. Of those posted, 40 per cent were considered ‘bad’ by World Animal Protection, meaning the charity deemed the traveller to be holding or inappropriately interacting with the animal.