Being a non-aware tourist on social media has implications for wildlife.

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Being a non-aware tourist on social media has implications for wildlife.


Nemesys Barrantes Chaves,
Abogada Ambiental.
Project Planet – Universidad Castro Carazo
Voluntaria en áreas de conservación. 

"That precious and necessary gift of common sense, which is the least common of the senses." –Ramón Gómez de la Serna.

Being lucky enough to find ourselves in one of the countries with the greatest amount of biodiversity compared to its territory, it becomes a daily experience for us to observe and be in contact with a great variety of wild animals. This is especially true if we are in rural communities or if we venture to visit any of the protected areas, which correspond to 25% of the national territory in Costa Rica, and which include all the different management categories.

It is then when we are in places inhabited by wildlife, where, on occasions, we become wilder than the fauna that inhabit the place, and we carry out actions that in most cases have a good intention behind them but are harmful. It could seem, at first glance, that they do not cause any harm, for example, behaviors such as feeding local species, seeking to hug or touch animals, but these are dangerous actions for the species.

Although the above is incorrect behavior, on many occasions it goes further, and people abuse the species consciously or unconsciously. In this regard, the Wildlife Conservation Law No. 7317 in article 27 indicates:

The temporary or permanent exhibition of native or exotic wildlife in circus shows throughout the national territory is prohibited, as well as the importation of wildlife that is part of circuses, traveling public shows and similar to the national territory, when its purpose is the public exhibition of these.

However, on occasions, it is precisely tourists and tour guides who are responsible for this type of traveling public entertainment mentioned in the aforementioned Law.

In conservation areas, due to their extension, it is impossible for park guards to control circuses that are generated with wild animals within their natural habitat, where the space of the species is invaded, and sometimes the development of natural instincts and the role of each species in the food chain is limited. The loss of natural senses such as smell, not eating seeds, fruits, grasses, and changing the diet for food that people provide, make the excrement of animals that naturally fulfilled a specific function, such as for example, the spread of seeds within the forest, is no longer possible.

In addition, fauna acquires behaviors different from the ones they would have should they not be influenced by people´s actions. Such as, for example, the growing increase of greater socialization with people, learning to ask for things, stealing food or articles believing they are food, has had a notorious increase in multiple sites where the relationship of people with wildlife is inappropriately close.

All these scenes as comic or tender as they seem, are a great environmental problem, since in addition to the damage caused to ecosystems, people upload posts with photos and videos to social networks, of this incorrect interaction with wildlife, which triggers more people to want to do the same when visiting rural or natural areas.

We must then point out and stop normalizing selfies with wild animals, desist from wanting to repeat photos or images found with increasing frequency in digital media, and develop greater critical thinking of the irreversible damage that is being caused to those species without the capacity of reasoning.

I make a call to create awareness for the fauna, to take care of it correctly: by respecting their physical space, their eating habits, and not disturbing the species with camera flashes, hands, sticks or exposing them to bacteria typical of the human species.

That task is ours, because we are the only species with reasoning capacity on this planet, to protect them, and paradoxical as it may seem, on more than one occasion we forget to put into practice that great capacity that we have. Allow animals to be more animals and allow yourself to be less invasive.

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