The Impact of Wildlife Selfies
About The Project
This project is the result of a three-month long commission in the rainforest in Brazil, Colombia and Peru for World Animal Protection involving photos, videos and semi-structured interviews.
During this assignment it became apparent that many tourists join tours to engage in wildlife ecotourism, unaware that the activities involved are often unregulated, illegal and cruel. Animals used in these activities can die prematurely due to mishandling and severe, constant stress. Tour guides who are either lying or being lied to themselves pre-empt possible concerns by assuring tourists that these activities are harmless to the animals, and that supporting such activities help the local communities.
The data collected during this assignment resulted in two peer-reviewed scientific papers investigating the socio- economic and environmental impact of wildlife ecotourism and the "selfie" phenomenon on local wildlife and communities. The focus of one of the published papers, entitled "A review of wildlife ecotourism in Manaus, Brazil", was the impact of eco-tourism on animal welfare in that particular area of the Amazon. The other paper, entitled "The Impact of ‘Selfie’ Tourism on the Behaviour and Welfare of Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloths", focuses on the welfare of the brown-throated three-toed sloth, which is one of the most popular animals used in wildlife selfie activities.
The objective of this project is to raise awareness to the exploitative nature of some eco-tourism operators. The hope is that by making people aware that a seemingly innocent activity is damaging to wildlife, there will be more pressure on tour operators to ensure that the activities that they endorse or provide are humane and eco-friendly.
This project has since then gained some exposure by been highly commended at the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 and Tokyo International Foto Awards (TIFA) 2018. It has also helped enabling positive action to be taken by social media platforms to tackle the issue, as well as on-the-ground action to rescue animals being used in such activities and to work with local communities in a drive to offering them alternative income solutions.
Images produced during this project were and have been used by media worldwide.
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