The impact of wildlife selfies and 8 tips for an ethical wildlife tourism
Every year, millions of tourists travel around the globe looking for leisure and entertainment to slow down a bit, disconnecting from their daily obligations. Most of them are interested in spending more time with wildlife, and search for itineraries that allow them to be in contact with nature.
However, this involvement – if done in a wrong way – may be extremely harmful, specially to the animals.
A great example is the type of wildlife tourism often seen in the Amazon, where the animals get exposed to a high level of cruelty and suffering.
To raise awareness and to end this type of tourism, the World Animal Protection launched a campaign called “Wildlife. Not Entertainers” and the report “A close up on cruelty“, which details the negative impact of wildlife selfies.
The study reveals that the main companies in the regional tourism market benefit from the exploitation and the sale of experiences that include a direct contact with the wildlife to the tourists: 54% offer a direct contact, 35% feed the animals to attract them and 11% offer the opportunity to swim with them, which means that 100% of the companies offer some type of interaction and as consequence, cause suffering to the wildlife.
The search for wildlife selfies raising concern for animal welfare, and sometimes, even for conservation, as some of the exploited species are threatened.
Since most of the wildlife cruelty occurs behind the scenes, World Animal Protection recommends that a wildlife tour follow the rules below:
1- Wild animals must be free, and never in captivity, locked in cages or in chains;
2- Don’t take selfies with wild animals;
3- Wild animals should not be used in shows;
4- Do not touch or hug wild animals, keep a safe and minimal distance;
5- Do not feed wild animals, specially when the intention is to attract them;
6- Prior environmental educational activities should be offered to prepare the tourists for the experience, ensuring calm and quiet visits;
7- The tour shall not cause negative impact to natural environments;
8- Complain to the tour operator and report it to public authorities if you notice wildlife welfare issues at the tourist attraction.
We emphasise that wild animals belong to nature and must stay there.
Therefore, invest in observation tourism – check it out the work of the Arara Azul Institute and the Golden Lion Tamarin Association – where the animals are in their habitat, acting naturally and without any kind of suffering or stress.
This article was written by João Almeida, Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection.