Our Selfie Addiction Is Killing Animals Around The World

Posted on September 26, 2016 in Environment, Society

By Smriti Raghunandan:

Selfies are killing animals around the world. Let me bombard you with a few recent heart-wrenching, stomach-churning examples:

The case of the Franciscana dolphin calf:

The calf was allegedly killed by tourists, as they passed it around to take selfies. While the Argentine incident was under scrutiny, tourists who were at the spot, claimed that the dolphin was already dead. My question is that, which sick person would pass on a dead dolphin calf just to take a selfie with the poor soul?

The wild selfie:

A man in Florida dragged out a small shark to take a ‘wild’ selfie.

Pluck them feathers and watch them cry:

The news on two peacocks dying at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park in China after tourists manhandled them for they wanted to take ‘exotic’ selfies with these poor creatures, was just too much to handle. To add to the horror, the zoo reported that the tourists also plucked their feathers which sent the birds into a state of shock.

The world’s ‘Grandest Zoo’:

This is the heart-wrenching story of the world’s saddest polar bear. The Grandview Mall Aquarium opened its doors to the public in January, 2016, just so that people could take the best of selfies.

The coastline horror:

Tourists in San Diego were caught harassing birthing seals and newborns along the coast of this city. For your information, this was the pupping season along the Pacific coastline and there we were, terrifying these poor creatures to death, literally!

Now I guess you get the point; the frustration, the angst, the agony that your mind goes through when you are trying to comprehend the fact that these horrifying incidents have been instigated by the so-called educated lot who supposedly know how to behave better than ‘animals’ – the species that have the ‘oh-so-famous sixth sense’. And believe you me, this is just 1/100th of the poison that’s been spewed all over.

Making Your Holiday Photo Albums A Whole Lot Fancier

We just celebrated World Tiger Day two months ago, but have we taken a step back to think of all those tigers that have gone missing in the last few decades? What about 19-year-old Macchli who passed away? She was lucky enough (supposedly) to be taken care of, but do we know how well she was taken care of? And more importantly, how she was one of the most ‘photographed’ tigers? Is that what tigers are for?

Let’s look at some numbers – a few thousand years ago, Asian countries, alone, housed about 100,000 tigers. Today, we stand at a mere 3200 worldwide. The rest are probably hunting trophies, carpets in a luxurious home or maybe even consumed as a meal or in the form of tiger-bone wine! While we are continuing to applaud the fact that the number of tigers has increased in India, what happens to the ones that have gone missing in all these years?

Yet another news that has been making it to the international headlines is the famous Tiger Temple in Thailand.

For more than a decade, the famous Tiger Temple in Thailand – formerly known as Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno – has been accused of being involved in animal abuse. Tigers have gone missing and are being drugged so that we humans can do “kootchi koo” with them and from nowhere, there are zillions of cubs appearing in the temple but most people don’t seem to care. All they want to do is take the best of the photos. So that’s one item scored off the checklist!

Below Are Some Of The Disturbing Facts About This So-Called Temple:

The temple houses over 147 captive tigers.

Tourists from all over the world land up here to get up close and cuddly with these tigers; this generates up to $3 million of income a year.

Tiger cubs are the most famous props among tourists. Since 2008, between 6 and 20 cubs were needed for every three to four tourists to ‘cuddle’, because these poor creatures became dangerous as they grew up (this ‘dangerous’ behavior obviously seems very abnormal given that tigers are domesticated mammals and definitely enjoy a belly rub or two! When pigs can fly, then why not?) This is according to the research help by Sybelle Foxcroft, an Australian wildlife management expert whose brainchild is the Tiger Temple Report.

So Here’s My Theory To This Mess:

This means that there is a gap in the demand-supply curve, so to speak. If there is a higher number of tourists, the temple will need a higher number of tigers! It’s that simple you see. So here’s what this temple did:

In order to increase the population of these magnificent animals, the technique of ‘speed breeding’ was adopted (because it is the only ‘sensible’ way of going about it). As soon as a litter arrived, they were immediately taken away from the mother so that the mother was made ready to mate again. This automatically bumped the number of litters every year. Imagine the number of tigers that have gone missing for this very reason; the math is quite simple, but it leaves one with a bad taste in the mouth.

In January 2016, Sharon Guynup of National Geographic did an exclusive piece on how the temple is involved in the black market tiger trade. New evidence has revealed that the tigers have been illegally trafficked across the border to Laos from this monastery. Different parts of this majestic animal including the bones, skin etc. cost a fortune in the black market. Many tigers have gone missing from the monastery but none of the officials there have answers as to how and why.

The saddest part of it all – no one has been charged for the case of the missing tigers.

The Temple has been shut down recently but the officials have been going around slapping defamation cases against people, organisations and news channels who have been trying their utmost best to help these majestic creatures. So much for peace, brotherhood and universal love.

Torture That’s Closer To Home

Let’s take a step back -I am sure that most of you have come across people who dress up like little monkeys, cows, donkeys, horses, goats and elephants just so that it adds flair to the festival season or just so that human children screech and jump around these creatures with joy. While things might look all hunky-dory on the outside, we all know what’s happening otherwise.

The World Animal Protection, which is an international non-profit organisation, released a report earlier this month on the “ten of the world’s cruellest attractions”. The main reason why I am listing this down for you is so that you don’t end up repeating these mistakes over and over again when you visit a place the next time. It’s better late than never, all it takes is a little effort to save the lives of these poor souls:

Riding elephants – We continue to see this in a lot of countries including India, Sri Lanka, southern Africa, some parts of South-East Asia etc. I’ve seen these rides being organised at the so-called elephant orphanages and sanctuaries in southern parts of India – Gudalur (next to Mudumalai) and Coorg, for instance.

Taking tiger selfies – I don’t think I could talk about this any further. It is increasingly seen in southern Africa too during the so-called animal-friendly safaris.

Visiting bear parks – Some parts of the US used to have bear parks; the Saunooke Bear Park in North Carolina was shut down because of reported violations.

Holding sea turtles – This is a major tourist attraction in Cayman Islands. You can, in fact, choose to eat them if you feel like it.

Performing dolphins – We have the famous SeaWorld controversy that still persists. However, what’s amazing to see is that the majority of the crowd around the world continues to boycott the damn company.

Dancing monkeys – We’ve seen enough of this in India. Beaches in Chennai used to increasingly have them, about a decade ago.

Touring civet cat coffee plantations – I’ve heard a ton of people who have visited these plantations in Indonesia and Philippines. They proudly pose for photos while pretending to extract the coffee from the poop. Have you ever wondered what conditions these civets are kept in and the way they are treated in order to get your most expensive cup of coffee?

Charming snakes and kissing cobras – The ultimate test of who is the bravest of them all, is it? But did you know that these snakes that are apparently ‘friendly’ have their tongues cut off and their fangs plucked out just so  they don’t do anything ‘inappropriate’!

Farming crocodiles – These reptiles remain in demand just for their skin and meat. Pub Street in Siem Reap, for instance, serves crocodile pizza and the likes.

Narcissism has been taken to a whole new level. We’ve lost the fear of hurting other beings just so that we get the most number of likes on Facebook and seem a whole lot cooler than our friends.

While we have people beating their chests and fighting for animal rights, on one hand, there is still this sort of a rampage that negates all those efforts. Every other day we have one or two species going extinct or becoming endangered. The way it looks, it seems like we are next in line.

Believe you me, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We need to mend our ways sooner or later before we prove Newton right.


Image source: Torrista Until I die | Twitter