When I’m traveling, I love to take photographs of whatever comes in front of my lens. And a lot of that are animals. Mostly wild animals, that are typical for the area I’m in. Because honestly, animals are just amazingly beautiful and great photo motives.
But some people overdo it. Remember the story from earlier this year, where people took a dolphin out of the water to take a selfie with it? And just earlier this month, another story occurred, where a woman picked up a swan to take a better selfie – and killed it.
Those stories started a big public discussion on people using animals for better photos. But one thing a lot of people forget, is, that unfortunately, it happens all the time that people don’t respect animals’ natural habitat. Maybe just not in that extent.
Ever had a friend visit Thailand and come back with photographs riding an elephant and hugging a tiger? Yes, that happens. And it is just as bad as picking up animals to take selfies.
I have to admit, when I was in in Thailand a few years back, I actually went to an “Elephant farm” (at least that’s how they called it) and rode an elephant. And as you might see from the photograph below, I wasn’t enjoying it that much. All the time a small thai kid, I’d say he was about ten years old, was sitting behind me with a stick in his hand that had a hook at the end, which he put into the elephant’s ear to keep it from eating or going the wrong way. I was shocked and wished I could just jump of there right away. So it’s safe to say, I regret that decision.
Those two recent “animal-selfie” incidents, however, made me think. There have to be better ways to get a great “I’ve seen this great animal”-photographs. And I actually came up with a few which might not be as cheap as picking up an animal in the wildlife but they are definitely safer for them. And they are a great experience on top of that! Following up, I will share them with you.
You might think that when you’re doing a safari you don’t come close enough to animals to take a good picture. And yes, you might not stand right next to a lion, especially since you are not allowed to leave your car at any time, but trust me, you will come close enough to snap some great photographs, possibly even seflies – and you don’t hurt any animal in the process!
Tipp: There’s a lodge in Namibia, Africa, called Epako Game Lodge, where an actual Giraffe is walking around to pet and take pictures with. And she’s still treated the exact right way!
2.) Swimming with dolphins (Kaikoura)
Talking about dolphins. I know there are possibilities in different countries to swim with dolphins. But the circumstances are mostly a bit forced and the animals are not treated as they should be. In Kaikoura, a town on the South Island of New Zealand, tourists have the opportunity to swim with real life dolphins, thanks to Encounter Kaikoura. A boat takes you out onto the water and you can then snorkel your way around the surface, surrounded by millions of dolphins. You are not allowed to touch them, but you still have them close enough to snap a few good pictures, if you have a water proof camera.
Tipp: There’s a beach in Western Australia, where dolphins swim very close to the coast and if you are lucky you will catch some! And I’ve also heard of some people surfing around the world with dolphins swimming around them. Just be patient.
Talking about water and fish – Diving is one of the greatest experiences I had while traveling so far and you get the best animal pictures out of it, if you have a good underwater camera. A lot of places also offer renting underwater cameras, if you want that.
Diving can be done in a lot of places around the world, my favourite place so far was Gili Trawangan in Indonesia but I’ve heard there are places that are even more stunning.
Close to Europe, for example, Egypt offers a great underwater world.
4.) Elephant sanctuaries
Especially in Thailand, elephant riding is a big tourist attraction. And like I said, I did it as well but it was just no fun to see how cruel the animals were treated. Well, you are always smarter afterwards. That’s why I’d recommend to you guys, if you plan a trip to Asia soon, to look up some Elephant sanctuaries, such as the Elephant Nature Parc in Chiang Mai, which is located in the north of Thailand. If you want to, you can even volunteer there and spend some more time with those majestic, impressive animals.
5.) Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali
On Bali, there’s the possibility to take thousands of photographs with monkeys. I gotta admit, I felt like it was a bit forced as well, especially because the people who work there give you bananas to attract the monkeys and make them sit on your shoulder but after all, they are free to walk around there. So it’s a pretty cool place to visit if you want a fun selfie with a monkey – before it steals your iPhone!
6.) In its natural habitat
Well yeah, all of the above kind of fall under that category as well, but unfortunately you still have to pay for all of those but if you are lucky and you look close enough, you definitely see some wild animals in any country you visit. Starting with deers in forests in Germany, kangaroos in Australia’s outback or Llamas on the side of the street in Peru – and the list goes on and on. And if you are really quiet and careful, you might be able to get close enough to take a fun selfie with them – without picking any of them up!
So don’t be an idiot (sorry) just to get a good selfie and just look closely (and maybe improve your photography skills) and your next “I’ve seen this great animal” photograph will do no harm anymore!