We’ve been working with local school children in a popular destination in the Amazon, to highlight the importance of sustainable tourism for wildlife
Vila São Pedro is a wildlife selfie trade hotspot. Many tourists travel to the region – and other Amazon communities near Manaus in Brazil – to take selfies with wild animals. Many sloths and other Amazonian animals are stolen from the wild, and kept in captivity by local residents and tour operators so they can sell photo opportunities to tourists.
That’s why we worked with school children in Vila São Pedro.
Why do children matter?
The tourism industry and the demand for animal selfies causes clear harm to the species taken from the wild to entertain tourists. But this dangerous trend also causes children to leave school during the high season.
During our work in the area, it’s become clear that many tourists prefer to take pictures of animals in the hands of children. This means the children drop out of school to help encourage tourists to pay for wildlife selfies.
How are we helping?
To combat this practice, our consultants and community teachers developed a range of educational activities. Over a three-month period at the end of 2017, we taught students in the area about animal welfare, species behavior, biology, ecosystems and nature conservation.
Importantly, the students also learnt about sustainable tourism.
The 350 incredible children we taught in Vila São Pedro have become our ‘wildlife leaders’. They’re helping to create a better future for animals. To celebrate the work of these school children, four artists from Manaus visited Vila São Pedro and painted a large mural on the wall of the community’s Jovino Coelho School.
The children also recently showed the community what they had learnt about tourism with animals, Amazon species and the need to protect animals.
Our local consultant, Renata Ilha said: “Now our project is marked on the school walls and in the students’ minds. The future of the Amazon is bright because these children will be the individuals of change.”
Vila São Pedro is the first community to commit to the protection of animals in its region. These children can play a key role in ending the cruel practice of wildlife selfies. We’re urging more local communities in the Amazon to follow the excellent example shown by these children – and pledge to give wild animals a better future.
Sign up to the Wildlife Selfie Code now and commit to cruelty-free selfies. Together, we can help keep wild animals in the wild, where they belong.