Petrified Sloth Facing Dog Brings Tragic Issue to Light

A vulnerable sloth is seen facing off against a large dog in an image that highlights a sad conservation issue.

American photographer Suzi Eszter entered him in the 58th Wildlife Photographer (WPY) of the Year competition organized by the London Natural History Museum (NHM) and he was “highly recommended” in the Urban Wildlife category by expert judges.

The picture, dubbed Laziness Dilemma, will be shown as one of 100 photographs in the NHM’s WPY exhibition, which opens on October 14 in London. The exhibition will then embark on a UK and international tour.

According to the NHM, the images, taken by photographers of all ages and experience levels, depict the “precious beauty” of our planet.

“Captured by some of the most talented photographers from around the world, the 100 photographs inspire curiosity, connection and wonder,” NHM director Doug Gurr said in a statement. “These inspiring images convey the human impact on the natural world in ways that words cannot, from the urgency of biodiversity decline to the inspiring transformation of a protected species.”

The NHM has released many acclaimed preview images ahead of the exhibit itself. Besides the image of the Eszterhas sloth, other photos from the preview include a pool party of tree frogs and another of an American mink fighting for space in a small cage in a fur farm.

The image of “Laziness Dilemma” captured by Suzi Eszterhas, in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica. The picture shows an encounter between a brown-throated sloth and a dog.
Suzi Eszterhas / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

on Laziness Dilemma image, Eszterhas captured a tense encounter between a brown-throated sloth and a large dog in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica.

The range of these sloths is from Honduras to Peru and Bolivia. But these animals face many threats, including habitat loss, electrocution from power lines, isolation and genetic deformities, urban development, vehicle collisions, tourism, illegal trade of pets and dog attacks.

Eszter said Newsweek that he took the photo while documenting the sloths of the town in Costa Rica and the conservation work of the Sloth Conservation Foundation.

“I spent months with their field team trying to show how sloths struggle to adapt to the modern world and all the deforestation that comes with it,” says the photographer.

When Eszterhas took the picture, the sloth had just crossed the road. But to get to the next clump of trees, he had to go back to the ground and crawl. At this point, he froze after seeing a large dog.

This is a life-threatening situation for the sloth – dog attacks are the second leading cause of sloth deaths in Costa Rica.

Photo of tree frog pool party taken by Brandon Güell in Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. The picture shows a rare breeding frog.
Brandon Güell/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

“Sloths are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks because they cannot jump or run, and they often resort to crawling on the ground to move between trees in urban areas,” Eszterhas said. “Sloths have no defense against predators other than camouflage. So if they are on the ground and very visible, they have no way to protect themselves. »

“At first, I was very worried about the sloth. But luckily the dog sniffed the sloth and then walked away. »

The dog could have easily killed the sloth, but he previously participated in a program run by the Sloth Conservation Foundation that trains dogs not to attack sloths.

“Part of the Sloth Conservation Foundation’s Oh My Dog program is to provide community members with free access to dog training classes where dog owners can learn training techniques to their dogs not to attack sloths and other land animals,” he said. “This program has been very successful and over 100 dog owners have participated in these programs so far. »

“This dog lives in a place where he sees a lot of ground sloths and never attacks them,” he said. “I am filled with great gratitude for the Sloth Conservation Foundation team and how their work is truly saving the lives of sloths and other wildlife. »

Sloths live in trees and rarely fall to the ground. But due to increasing habitat loss and forest fragmentation, these animals are forced to make vulnerable journeys to urbanized areas in search of food, suitable shelter and mates.

The winners of the NHM competition will be announced on October 11 at an awards ceremony.

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