Iconic Amazonian wild animals are suffering for selfies
Our ground-breaking new report reveals the exploitation of sloths, caiman, anacondas, and more, who are used for tourist selfies across Latin America
The explosive wildlife selfie trend on social media is causing suffering for some of the world’s most iconic wild animals, who live in the Amazon.
Focusing on two cities of the Amazon: Manaus, Brazil and Puerto Alegria, Peru, our investigation reveals that animals are being taken from the wild, often illegally. They’re then exploited and injured by irresponsible tour operators to entertain and provide harmful photo opportunities for tourists.
In public view and behind the scenes, our investigators uncovered evidence of cruelty being inflicted on wild animals, including:
- 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
Gajender K Sharma, India Country Director said: "A once-in-a-lifetime selfie can mean a lifetime of misery for a wild animal. Tourists care about animals and most aren’t aware of the cruel industry they are fueling. 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."
We also worked to uncover research on the prevalence and trends around wildlife selfies. The results show:
- A 292% increase in the number of wildlife selfies posted on Instagram between June 2014 and June 2017
- Over 40% of selfies are considered ‘bad’ wildlife selfies – i.e. someone hugging, holding or inappropriately interacting with a wild animal
- People will most likely upload a ‘good’ wildlife selfie when they have been educated or exposed to the cruelty behind the scenes
This World Animal Day (October 4), we launched our Wildlife Selfie Code to inspire tourists to take cruelty-free photos with wild animals, without fueling the cruel wildlife entertainment trade.
Help filter the cruelty out of wildlife selfies by signing up to our Wildlife Selfie Code. Let’s commit to keeping wild animals in the wild, where they belong.