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woman taking selfie with lion at a zoo
A woman takes a selfie in front of the lions open-air cage at the Tbilisi zoo © Independent/Vano Shlamov/AFP/Getty Images

Sourced from third-party site: TRAFFIC

TRAFFIC has teamed up with online social media firm Instagram and WWF to raise awareness about the illegal trade of endangered animals online and inappropriate wildlife ‘selfies’.

As of 4th December, when users search for particular hashtags on Instagram associated with illegal wildlife trade, it will trigger a content advisory warning pop-up informing them that Instagram prohibits the sale of endangered animals and animal abuse.

The message will highlight the potential harm of posting content that may be associated with wildlife exploitation, such as the trafficking of wild-caught animals, or for tourist photo opportunities. “Wildlife trafficking is going online, including via social media sites. Instagram’s interstitial launch is a welcome step by the sector to send a clear message that companies like Instagram are working to prevent and discourage these damaging practices against wildlife,” says Crawford Allan, Senior Director of Wildlife Crime at TRAFFIC.

A link to Instagram’s help centre will be provided which will advise Instagram users of potential abuse to wildlife, with the following text:

“We also encourage you to be mindful of your interactions with wild animals, and consider whether an animal has been smuggled, poached or abused for the sake of tourism. For example, be wary when paying for photo opportunities with exotic animals, as these photos and videos may put endangered animals at risk.”

Protect wildlife on Instagram message, #lionselfies
One of the warnings that appears if flagged wildlife hashtags are searched for or used on Instagram © Instagram

Giavanna Grein, Program Officer of Wildlife Crime at TRAFFIC added, “We have been working with Instagram to identify and remove content that relates to the sale of endangered animals and their parts. The company’s genuine concern to bring about positive change to protect nature and wildlife gives us hope that this threat can be seriously reduced”.

Links to TRAFFIC and WWF will provide the opportunity to learn more about the threats to wildlife species. The “hashtag interstitial” went live on 4th December, 2017 on Instagram.

Shenton Safaris
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