Will Coldwell, The Guardian, July 29, 2014
An animal protection charity is calling on tourists to turn down opportunities to take photos of themselves with wild animals, as a growing number of such images, including “tiger selfies”, surface online.
Coinciding with Global Tiger Day, Care for the Wild International, which is pushing their No Photos, Please! campaign into Thailand next month, wants to highlight the impact the photos have on wildlife.
The charity’s plea comes at a time when a particularly reckless craze has been catching the attention of the media – men taking photos with tigers to use on their Tindr profiles.
Speaking to The Guardian, the charity’s campaigns and communications manager Chris Pitt said: “People want to copy the photos they’ve seen online, which leads to more animal suffering.”
He added: “A lot of us when we’ve travelled have seen an opportunity to take a photo with a monkey on your shoulder. In Thailand it’s very popular to have a photo with a slow loris – people are encouraged to think they’re cute and good for a photo but these are nocturnal animals from the jungle being dragged around neon-lit resorts, with their teeth and claws clipped, having cameras flashed in their eyes.”
As well as the risk to wildlife, tourists are also be putting themselves at danger for the sake of a photo. Care for the Wild International estimates that at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, a popular tourist destination for Brits, Australians and New Zealanders, there are up to 60 incidents a year (of varying severity) of captive tigers mauling tourists or volunteers.
In a statement, the charity’s CEO Philip Mansbridge said: “I know people will immediately think we’re over-reacting or just out to spoil people’s fun. But the reality is, one quick pic for you means a lifetime of suffering for that animal. If you really want that Facebook photo this summer, then I challenge you to do a couple of things first – check that the animal still has its teeth and claws, check the conditions it sleeps in, check for marks where it’s been beaten, and check where it’s going to end up when it’s no longer cute enough for photos.”
According to the charity, photo opportunities with wild animals are also prevalent in Mexico, parts of Europe and Morocco, often in so-called “sanctuaries”. Lion and tiger cubs are available to pet in Mexico and lion cubs are a “speciality” in South Africa.
Last year the Association for British Travel Agents published guidance on the issue, stating that commercial exploitation of animals as photographic props should not occur at any attraction claiming to be an animal sanctuary.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
This article was written by Will Coldwell from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.