Selfies with wildlife are more harmful than we imagine. And for the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy that is crystal clear.
“We want to prevent visitors from feeding (animals), from capturing them for photos and from manipulating them,” said the vice minister, Pamela Castillo, while promulgating the campaign.
As we all know, in Costa Rica you can actually enjoy the true wildlife experience. And people from all over the World come to our rainforests looking for the sloths, monkeys, toucans and a lot more.
Given this, we are the first country in the World to stand and talk against a practice that is not only usual for encouraged in the travel industry all over the World.
According to the Minae representative, the selfies with wildlife can produce “stress and suffering” for the animals and even put visitors at risk. (Find here an article on the consequences of selfies on sloths)
That prompted the sustainable tourism campaign, called “Stop animal Selfies” (#stopanimalselfies), or “paren los selfies con animales” in Spanish.
The ministry mentioned a study from the World Animal Protection organization which discovered that the seventh-most “inappropriate” wildlife photos were taken in Costa Rica.
“The environmental and tourism sector come together to stop this practice and be an example in the world, motivating to avoid direct contact and selfies with wild animals in captivity or in their natural habitat when there is human manipulation,” MINAE said.
Government surveys indicate that about 40% of foreign tourists visiting Costa Rica seek to experience the country’s flora and fauna. More than a quarter of Costa Rica’s land is protected in national parks, wildlife refuges and reserves.
Roberto Vieto, Wildlife Manager of World Animal Protection said:
“We congratulate the government of Costa Rica for leading one of the most ambitious initiatives and promoting responsible tourism in the region and the world. We would like to see more countries take this kind of action and show the same degree of responsibility to protect animals by conducting animal-friendly campaigns. Tourists who visit these places are not aware of the cruelty these animals suffer just because of a photo.”
Andrea Borel, Executive Director of Humane Society International said:
“We applaud Costa Rica’s efforts to ensure the protection, ethical management and welfare of wild animals by avoiding promoting practices that are cruel to animals, as they do not respect their natural behaviors and promote a mercantilist and utilitarian vision, which is a lack of animal welfare freedoms promoted by international organizations such as the OIE. We hope that Costa Rica will continue to set the standard as a leading country in biodiversity conservation and respect for wildlife as a whole.”
Times, T., Doughty, N., Times, T., Times, T., & Zúñiga, A. (2019). Selfie with a wild animal? Not in Costa Rica. The Tico Times Costa Rica. Retrieved 28 October 2019, from https://ticotimes.net/2019/10/25/selfie-with-a-wild-animal-not-in-costa-rica
The Wildlife Selfie Code. (2019). World Animal Protection USA. Retrieved 28 October 2019, from https://www.worldanimalprotection.us/wildlife-selfie-code
Written by Olga Sáenz for Terranova Costa Rica