The Republic of Costa Rica holds an important place in the world as one of the most significant national supporters of ecological and animal protections. The protection and preservation of their natural environment and around the world has long been a core tenet within their national politics and diplomacy. This emphasis continues even in the Netherlands as Ambassador of Costa Rica, H.E. Mr. Arnoldo Brenes Castro hosts events on this topic, including one on September 16, 2021, highlighting the harmful practice of “animal selfies” and the importance of reducing direct human (read: tourist) contact with wildlife.
Because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time and the limited space at the Embassy of Costa Rica, only a small group was able to physically attend the presentation, but far more had the good fortune to join digitally. Participating was a representative from Costa Rica’s National Commission on Biodiversity, specifically the head of the “Stop Animal Selfies” campaign; the Embassy staff; a representative from the World Animal Protection organization; and a representative of the Dutch animal rights political party, PvdD.
- Informe and educate tourists about appropriate wildlife tourism practices through observation and species conservation.
- Protect tourists from possible risks associated with direct contact with wildlife.
- Protect wildlife from practices that put it at risk, through capturing from the natural environment and mishandling in captivity.
- Effectively implement national wildlife regulations.
This event aimed to express the importance of the issue of human contact with wildlife and to share the objectives of Costa Rica’s national campaign on the subject. The project aims to educate tourists about responsible ecological tourism practices which emphasize conservation; to protect wildlife from harmful practices and mistreatment; and to remove Costa Rica as one of the top ten nations in which tourists take photos directly with wildlife. These are important issues for their government and should be for anyone interested in ecological protection.
The campaign also necessarily relies on a social media element, encouraging people to take a selfie with a toy animal and share with the hashtag #stopanimalselfies and with the caption, “I don’t harm wild animals for a selfie” for raising awareness of the issue and their website provides many resources for education on responsible wildlife tourism practices.
The project has been recognized by ecological groups around the globe for its importance, with Roberto Vieto, wildlife manager for World Animal Protection saying, “We congratulate the Costa Rica government for leading this ambitious initiative and pioneering responsible tourism in the region and around the world.”
The event held in the Netherlands was an important opportunity to share and educate a wider community on this subject and, importantly, Ambassador Castro acts not just as an advocate for Costa Rica, but for ecological protection across the globe.
Information at stopanimalselfies.org