Target: Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya
Goal: Ban tourists from using location-tagging devices to photograph endangered species in the wild
Tourists taking pictures on safari with their mobile devices may be unknowingly putting endangered species in jeopardy. Instagram and other social media websites that use Global Positioning System (GPS) “location-tagging” features are enabling poachers to find these animals more easily as users post photos indicating the location of these animals. Although conservationists have put up signs warning tourists to use caution when sharing photos on social media, some people are unaware that their picture-taking devices are indicating where they are. For this reason the only effective way to prevent yet more poaching of endangered species is to take legal action.
According to the African Safari Co. blog, poachers have even gone to the extent of sending “scouts” out with safaris to photograph endangered animals with GPS-enabled smartphones that link the exact coordinates to the picture–literally leading the poachers to their prey. Meanwhile many tourists who lack technologically savvy are unaware that the exact locations of a posted photo are often embedded in the file.
Regulating how tourists share information about endangered species on social media can help decrease poaching and the further decimation of threatened species. Tourists could still take photos of wild animals on safari, so long as they use cameras not in any way linked to social media sites. Urge African leaders to make preservation a priority by banning tourists from endangering threatened animals by taking photos of them with GPS-enabled devices.
Dear President Kenyatta,
Endangered species on African safaris are at higher risk for extinction now that poachers have found a new way to locate their animal victims: through tourists’ GPS-tagged pictures. Most photos posted on sites such as Instagram or Facebook automatically link the location with other photo data, providing poachers with coordinates to the animals’ exact location. Many safaris have signs cautioning visitors against freely sharing photos of endangered species on social media, but this alone does not prevent tourists unaware of such features from accidentally exposing the location of wild creatures.
Changes to law could substantially decrease the risk of endangered species being hunted down by poachers. As President of Kenya, one of the world’s most popular safari destinations, I urge you to make animal conservation a priority by passing legislation to prohibit tourists from taking pictures using GPS-enabled devices while at on safari.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mikee Showbiz via Flickr