An article in a recent newsletter from the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) caught my eye. We contacted our friend Kai Williams, the Executive Director of IWRC, for permission for WReNNZ to re-publish it.
It has relevance in New Zealand, and probably around the world, and is a useful reminder for us all to think about the image we are giving in social media communications. We need to be setting a good example as rehabilitators and WReNNZ members and meeting the intent of our Department of Conservation (DOC) permits which is our “licence to operate” in caring for our precious native wildlife.
Thanks to IWRC for their continued support of rehabilitation in New Zealand and for allowing us to republish the original story.
Brian Robertson, Vice Chair WReNNZ
Article by Sue Wylie - IWRC President
I consider working in wildlife rehabilitation a lifestyle and not a job. There aren't many roles where you are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, especially as a volunteer. This lifestyle is demanding and can easily isolate you from seeing your friends or family. Social media, such as Facebook, have become a social outlet for many of us looking to network, share our successes, meet new friends, and promote our causes.
I’ve noticed as social media gains popularity, so has posting inappropriate photos of wildlife. These photos are being posted by well-meaning rehabilitators, biologists, conservation officers and others working in the field. Many of the photos are taken with pride, and as an expression of the love that they have for their work, not realizing their photo can be misinterpreted by not only the public but by friends, family, and colleagues too. As ambassadors for wildlife, we need to lead by example both at work and our personal lives. Not wearing the proper PPE, holding animals in a trophy fashion, and showing inappropriate affection are just some examples of actions we want to avoid to protect our patients as well as people. A picture can say a thousand words but unfortunately, we do not have control over those words and can unintentionally send the wrong message.
As environmental stewards we have a responsibility to make the necessary efforts to represent wildlife in the way we want people to see them, as wild animals. Ensuring we post appropriate photos is one way of doing this.