The birth of the selfie has given us a chance to see how narcissistic we, as humans, truly are. Unfortunately, this obsession with self-documentation has made camera-crazed selfie-seekers completely oblivious of those surrounding them. Nowhere is this self-absorption more visible than when some dolt with an iPhone pulls a wild animal out of its habitat and into their camera frame. Sounds unbelievable, but sadly it happens all the time. Recently, a woman killed a swan while smiling for her profile picture in Macedonia. Meanwhile, in Argentina, a group of tourists used a dolphin as a selfie prop before leaving him to die on the beach. A few days ago, this global epidemic of stupidity and self-obsession made its way to Thailand – only this time, photo-op ended very poorly for the photographer.
A couple on holiday in Thailand, who were visiting the Kho Yai National Park, spotted a crocodile sunning itself on the bank of a pond. Ignoring all of the signage, the couple stepped off the trail to get a close-up with the croc. Unfortunately, the woman got a little too close – she tripped and fell next to the crocodile, startling it awake. There is no M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist at the end of this story. The croc reacted like anyone who has been awakened abruptly from a pleasant dream – it was upset. The animal bit the woman on the thigh before she was rescued and carried away on a stretcher. She is now in a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
What’s the moral of this story? Don’t treat wild animals like props for your Instagram story. We should all learn something from this woman’s carelessness – wild animals should be given the respect and distance they deserve. However, many people seem to forget that these animals are natural predators and want to take pictures with them or worse – keep them as pets or put them on display for the sake of tourist selfies (yes, it’s like an organized version of this tragic story where people have to pay for those selfies). Wild animals are not like dog and cats; they are not domesticated and so, despite some outward appearances, they are still very dangerous. Unfortunately, many people forget this and there are over 10,000 of wild animals kept on display for profit in the U.S alone. Most of these animals have been taken from their natural habitats and are in captivity as a result of the illegal wildlife trade, which adds a whole other layer of abuse and exploitation to the practice of taking pictures with wildlife.
So even though you may think it looks super cool to have a tiger in your profile picture – it doesn’t. It’s important that we acknowledge the wild and unpredictable nature of these animals, instead of viewing them as props in the backdrop of our lives. This mindset will not only help to preserve the way these animals live, it will keep us safe so that – unlike this French tourist – when you encounter a crocodile, you stay out of the hospital. Remember, entertainment, and self-aggrandizement should never come at the cost of a wild animal’s safety . . . or its nap time.
Image source: Matichon