Visitors to Australia Need to Stop Taking Wombat Selfies

Visitors to Australia Need to Stop Taking Wombat Selfies
Courtesy: Mia Taylor | News Source:

Selfie-obsessed travelers can certainly be a frustrating breed.

In addition to the selfie-sticks cluttering an otherwise pristine view, or the penchant among such travelers of placing themselves in dangerous situations to get their perfect selfie, they also tend to put animals in harm’s way.

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The latest example comes from one of the farthest reaches on the planet, Maria Island, just off the eastern coast of Tasmania, in Australia.

The island, which has no permanent human inhabitants other than park rangers, is famed for its adorable, teddy-bear-like wombat residents, according to a recent report from CNN.

The cuteness of these animals has turned them into a “must-have selfie accessory” for those visiting Maria Island, according to the news organization.

All of which has recently prompted the installation of new signage on the island (which is a national park), in hopes of encouraging visitors to curb their selfies and be more respectful. The signs state:

"I take this pledge to respect and protect the furred and feathered residents of Maria. I will remember you are wild and pledge to keep you this way.

I promise I will respectfully enjoy the wonders of your beautiful island home, from the wharf, to the Painted Cliffs, to the Rocky bluffs, haunted bays, and mystery of Maria's ruins.

Wombats, when you trundle past me I pledge I will not chase you with my selfie stick, or get too close to your babies. I will not surround you, or try and pick you up. I will make sure I don't leave rubbish or food from my morning tea. I pledge to let you stay wild.

I vow to explore with a sense of responsibility, adventure, and kindness. I will leave your wild island as I found it, and take home memories filled with beauty and my soul filled up with wonder."

Local Australian officials say the pledge, which visitors are not required to sign, is about helping people to establish a respectful mindset as they visit.

"As a state, we do a lot of education through our national parks, but there are parts of Tasmania where the animals are not as approachable," John Fitzgerald, the CEO of Tasmania Tourism, told CNN Travel. "We’re asking people to respect the fact that they're wild animals and respect them for what they are."

Fitzgerald added that it wasn’t one incident in particular that prompted the new signs, but rather just the increase overall of visitation to the island, which in addition to wombats, is home to the ruins of one of Australia's first penal colonies.

“It's just seeing increased activity and people wanting to have photos of animals and get up close to them. We're in the age of the selfie, and people want to take selfies in different locations and with people and animals" he explained to CNN.

The good news is, these kinds of pledges are popping up in more than just Australia.

In 2018, New Zealand kicked off the “tiaki promise,” which encourages all visitors to be respectful of the environment.

It’s a pledge that countless travelers could stand to make quite honestly, before embarking on any trip.