Are photographers contributing to poaching?

Mostly, if not always, wildlife photographers around the world take photos of wildlife and post these photos on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and and and. Luckily, for them, their kind of shooting does not kill the animals, let alone harm them.

Posting their photos on internet and social media is considered a trophy among their peers, as it is viewed as an honour to capture (mostly) endangered (and almost extinct) wild species; and due to the fact that endangered species are rarely seen around, let alone in the open wild, capturing one (with a camera) roaming freely is considered a trophy on its own already.

Though their interest in the animals end immediately after they release the (camera) shutter, little do they know that they might be helping those with bad intentions (poachers) to easily locate these animals and kill them for their (the animals’) valuables.



Photographers even go an extra mile and provide extra information that the poachers so fiercely need. Information, such as the exact location of the animals on a farm, game reserve, park, etc. (inlcuding latitudes and longitudes).

This makes the poachers’ searching and locating of these animals almost effortless. With nowadays ever advancing technology, one only needs a device with internet connection to be able to locate a place,. and once the place/location is located, animals are located – and the rest – as they say – is history.

Who knows, maybe some of these ‘tourists’ we freely allow to explore every inch of our game parks with big cameras are actually poachers in disguise and come around to locate our animals with the help of tour guides, rangers etc.

So they would know the exact location and movement of the wild animals, and maybe the location and movement of anti-poaching officers, rangers etc., the mode of communication, technological advances and all other necessary information they might need to carry out their deeds with ease.

Since it would not be viable to ban cameras, let alone tourists, in game parks, as people need to document their experiences and tourism is one of the major contributors to our country’s Gross Domestic Product, extra care needs to be taken when posting these photos on the internet and social media.

Governments should have regulations in place that need to be followed and adhered to when posting and or publishing images of wild animals, especially of endangered ones.

If photos are to be posted and/or published, locations should not be revealed. Taking photos of endangered wild animals should be controlled. Maybe a proper background check should be done on all tourists entering the game parks – but something needs to be done.

Peter Katonyala

Windhoek

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