Undercover footage taken in Peru shows the moment a sloth is ripped from its rainforest home to be sold into the tourist entertainment trade.
The three and a half minute long video shows illegal loggers near the town of Iquitos spotting a sloth high in a tree before hacking it down. The sloth is picked up while it waves its arms, seemingly terrified.
It is then upended into a bin bag to be transported, before being sold at Belén market for $13, so it can be forced to have its photo taken with holidaymakers.
World Animal Protection released the video to shine a light on the dark side of animal selfies.
“This footage is extremely distressing,” said Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection.
“We know that animals stolen from the wild for use as tourist photo props are kept in filthy, cramped conditions or repeatedly baited with food, causing them severe psychological trauma.
“It is ludicrous that this is to fuel the wildlife selfie craze which has become a worldwide phenomenon.
“This industry is fuelled by tourists, many of whom love animals and are unaware of the terrible treatment and abhorrent conditions wild animals may endure to provide that special souvenir photo.”
Illegal logging is thought to account for 80 per cent of all Peruvian timber export, with many of the loggers keen to make some extra money on the side by selling the wild animals they find, such as sloths, to meet the growing demand for tourist selfies.
Between 2014 and 2017, the number of animal selfies has grown by 292 per cent on Instagram, with 40 per cent of pictures classified by World Animal Protection as “bad” selfies. This means the tourist is hugging, touching or inappropriately interacting with a wild animal.
The charity is now calling on governments to enforce laws protecting wild animals and ensure that travel companies in the Amazon which use wild animals for tourism abide by existing laws.
World Animal Protection has also created a wildlife selfie code to help tourists determine whether an animal selfie is appropriate or not.
Good animal selfie
You keep a safe distance from the animal
The animal is in its natural home
The animal is free to move, and not captive
Bad animal selfie
The animals is being held, hugged, or restrained
The animal is being baited with food
The animal could harm you
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