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Wilderness selfie obsession a headache to Indian conservationists

Selfie craziness endangers the life of animals and the people visiting for photographs

Worried with reports of deaths due to craze for wildlife selfies, conservationists have raised concerns about enthusiasts risking their lives and endangering animals for photographs.

“The trend is of people clicking selfies when they spot animals or are holding them and upload on social media. No one should die. As long as its 3D (someone taking a picture with wildlife in the background) it is okay but one shouldn’t risk lives. I would suggest don’t do it,” said Pradeep Vyas, West Bengal’s principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden.

Conceding he had received reports of certain deaths which allegedly occurred while clicking selfies, Vyas urged youngsters to refrain from putting themselves at risk, at a discussion on ‘Role of Civil Society in Wildlife Conservation’ organised by Society For Heritage and Ecological Researches (SHER) here on Tuesday.

On the same page, conservationist Bittu Sahgal said one should not go for selfies at locations that are out of bounds or could endanger wildlife.

“If you are sitting in a jeep and taking a selfie then its fine. There is no harm but risking your life or breaking a rule or endangering animals is not done,” said Sahgal, founding-editor of Sanctuary Asia and member of Maharashtra Board for Wildlife.

Last year, a councillor was hurled to death by a tusker who charged him as he attempted to click photographs of a herd of elephants at Manikpara in Bengal’s West Midnapore district.

In February, a baby dolphin died after beachgoers in Argentina passed it around for selfies.

This is not just the case with India, but at the international level as well. During the month of April 2016,  New Zealand’s wildlife conservationists raised an alarm when the selfie sticks poked at the faces of the seals and distracted the animals.

Earlier in 2014, the state of New York has effectively banned the popular trend of taking “selfie” photos with tigers or big cats by saying people are no longer allowed near dangerous animals at zoos, circuses and carnivals.

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