Violators taking selfies with wild animals in Odisha now face the threat of arrest and up to seven years of imprisonment
Violators taking selfies with wild animals in Odisha now face the threat of arrest and up to seven years of imprisonmentDaniel Requena Lambert/

Odisha Cracks Down On Selfies With Wild Animals, Makes It A Crime

With these measures in place, Odisha aims to safeguard its rich biodiversity while deterring individuals from engaging in activities that jeopardise the welfare of wild animals

In an effort to protect wildlife and discourage reckless behaviour, authorities in Odisha have implemented stringent measures against individuals capturing selfies or photographs with wild animals without prior permission. Violators now face the threat of arrest and up to seven years of imprisonment.

Susanta Nanda, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), emphasised the seriousness of the issue, urging field staff to apprehend those seeking notoriety at the expense of endangered animals. In a directive to divisional forest officers and deputy directors, Nanda underscored the disruptive impact of such activities on wildlife and cited the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which deems such actions illegal.

"The rise in social media posts featuring individuals alongside scheduled wild animals is alarming. Not only does this behaviour disrupt the natural life cycles of these animals, but it also violates established wildlife protection laws," stated Nanda.

According to the Act, individuals engaging in such activities could face severe penalties, including imprisonment. Moreover, capturing selfies or photographs of endangered species, their remains, or trophies is strictly prohibited under the law.

Nanda urged the public to obtain proper permissions from forest officials before photographing wildlife, emphasising the importance of respecting guidelines and regulations.

To aid in enforcement efforts, helpline numbers have been made available across prominent locations and social media platforms, encouraging individuals to report instances of wildlife exploitation. Field officials have also been tasked with raising awareness and educating the public on the importance of preserving wildlife habitats.

Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by primatologist Andrea L. DiGiorgio and ecologist Cathryn Freund at Princeton University revealed that in the age of social media, the practice of sharing wildlife selfies, even when accompanied by scientist-authored posts and papers, is proving harmful to animals, contributing to illegal trafficking and detrimental human-wildlife interactions. Read more about it here.

(With inputs from PTI)

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