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Don’t do that #WildlifeSelfie for the gram! Instagram adds new protection alert

Cape Town – Instagram wants to protect wildlife and nature from exploitation.

The insanely popular photo-sharing app, that has more than 700 million users and some 250 million active users on its Insta-live stories, has instituted a very positive filter by issuing an advisory screen when a person searches for a hashtag associated with harmful behavior to animals or the environment.

Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts are not allowed on Instagram, it says.

Environmental Considerations

In the alert which will now be flagged on hashtags associated with animal exploitation Instagram says, “Whether you’re trying to capture a perfect photo or take a selfie, we encourage you to be mindful of the environment around you. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you’re surrounded by nature’s beauty, but risking damage to the environment—whether it’s walking on wildflowers, moving a nest or carving initials—is never worth a few likes.

Interactions with Wild Animals

“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.

‘Instagram works with wildlife groups to identify and take action on photos or videos that violate our community guidelines, such as posts depicting animal abuse, poaching, or the sale of endangered animals and their parts.

To learn more about endangered wildlife and exploitation, visit:

As an example, when you search the hashtag #KoalaSelfie, which in fact has some 3 200 posts associated with it, you will now see the following message.

#SlothSelfie has more than 4 269 posts. Sadly, there is no alert on #LionCubs which might be a more natural search hashtag – with more than 80k posts and a few showing lion cub petting.

There is much evidence to support that lion cub petting feeds into the wider issue of canned lion hunting in South Africa – largely said to stoke the practice of trophy lion hunting. Lions are listed as a threatened species according to CITES – with less than 20k truly wild lions left in Africa.

“This is an incredible move by Instagram in the campaign against wildlife exploitation in tourism. Travellers need to become responsible for their actions and realise the damage that is caused by these interactions. Ask yourselves – where did this animal come from? Why am I able to touch it? Animals cannot be released into the wild after human interaction – it is as simple as that,” says Nicola Gerrard, Blood Lions campaign.

Just to note here and something worth mentioning: The next step here would be for Instagram to flag the #WildlifeSelfies as they are posted by individuals, in addition to notifying the hashtag searches.