With news that last year more people were killed taking selfies than by shark attacks, we look at the most deadly places to pull out your selfie stick
National Parks in the USA are struggling to cope with the impact of bear selfies, a new craze that involves taking a selfie with a bear in the background. It has become so commonplace that officials in Sierra Nevada have issued a public safety warning.
Brown bear near unsuspecting man (Shutterstock.com)
Park officials say that it is not uncommon to see people rushing a group of bears to get a photo. While bear attacks are rare, they fear they will increase as bears feel under threat, especially if they have young cubs. The situation got so bad at the Waterton Canyon in Colorado that officials closed the park to visitors.
‘As far as they were concerned, it is a poor choice to A) get that close to wildlife and B) to turn your back on bears,’ said Park spokesman, Matt Robbins.
It’s not just wild animals and cliff faces that selfie takers need to watch out for. A Japanese tourist died after slipping on the stairs while taking a selfie at the Royal Gate at the Taj Mahal. Even the most benign tourist attractions can turn deadly if you don’t pay attention.
Woman taking selfie at the Taj Mahal (Shutterstock.com)
Indeed, India has the most selfie-related deaths in the world, with a staggering 40% of worldwide deaths while taking a self-portrait recorded in the country. In response, police in Mumbai recently declared 16 "no-selfie" zones across the city, with authorities warning that those who take selfies in risky areas would be fined.
Running with the bulls during the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona is dangerous enough. But during the 2014 run a participant was spotted trying to take a selfie. Officials acted quickly and a new law has been passed where people can be fined over €4,000 if they get caught trying take a selfie with a bull during the famous event.
A runner falls in Pamplona (Shutterstock.com)
The new law came in too late for a 32-year-old Spanish man at a similar event in Villaseca de la Sagra. He left the spectator area to get a selfie with the charging bulls and was gored, dying in hospital from his wounds a few hours later.
No doubt you’ve seen pictures of Mount Hua’s notorious wooden walkway – basically a series of planks of wood perched on the side of a 7,087-foot-highcliff. So has everyone else on Facebook and Instagram and now it has become the place to take a selfie when visiting this part of China.
The walkway on Mount Hua (Shutterstock.com)
The mountain is one of five sacred peaks in the Shaanxi province and while the rickety paths have been reinforced to accommodate the increasing number of tourists, it is still dangerous. Chinese officials are tight-lipped about the number of accidents, but locals suggest it is well over 100.
Trolltunga (or Troll’s tongue) is one of Norway’s ‘Big Three’ selfie spots, a slab of stone protruding out above the spectacular fjords. Like the jammed boulder at Kjeragbolten and the stone platform at Pulpit Rock, Norways two other selfie spots, there is nothing to stop careless selfie-takers from plunging to a grizzly death below.
Man sitting on Trolltunga rock (Shutterstock.com)
The real danger, however, comes from the popularity of each spot, with hundreds of people jostling to get that ‘must-have’ selfie for their social media timeline. That’s what saw a young Australian tourist plunge to her death at Trolltunga recently. Although initial reports suggested she was taking a selfie at the time, her family subsequently said she was trying to get past other people posing for photographs.
Wanderlust editor, Phoebe Smith, travelled to Norway to investigate the selfie phenomenon there. You’ll find a video of her findings below.
Main image: Woman taking selfie on Tolbachik volcano in Kamchtaka Peninsula, Russia (Shutterstock.com)