A man in India was killed by a bear Wednesday evening after he tried to take a selfie with the wounded animal.
Prabhu Bhatara was on his way back to Papadahandi, a town in the state of Odisha, with others in an SUV after a wedding. Along the way home, the driver saw a wounded bear on the side of the road. His friends told him not to leave the vehicle to take a selfie with the wild animal, but he ignored their pleas. He got close to the bear, which started chasing him. It then mauled him, and he "died on the spot," forest ranger Dhanurjaya Mohapatra told the Hindustan Times.
The passengers in the SUV saw the entire incident. Officials said they chose to film the scene on their phones instead of calling for help.
The only one to help Bhatara was a stray dog, which jumped into action and tried to free him from the bear. The dog's efforts failed, officials said.
"The bear is being treated for its injuries," Mohapatra told the Hindustan Times.
Bhatara's family received 30,000 Rupees (about $448) for his funeral.
According to the Times, this was the third animal-related selfie death in Odisha in the past nine months. In September 2017, a young man was trampled to death by a wild elephant he was trying to take a picture with. In December 2017, another young man was killed by a wild elephant that strayed from its heard. The youth got close to the animal, which agitated it.
Bear selfies are not a problem exclusive to India. In 2014, the U.S. Forest Service had to warn people of the dangers of getting close to wild bears after #BearSelfies began trending on social media.
"Bears are unpredictable, wild animals and may attack if threatened," Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson said in an October 2014 statement after too many people tried to take selfies at a park near Lake Tahoe. "We can't have visitors creating dangerous situations for themselves and others. People are risking serious injury or death if they get too close to a bear."
Sadly, this warning was not enough to stop people. In September 2015, it got so bad at Waterton Canyon park in Colorado that it was closed to the public until people stopped.
"The irony is that people usually take these photos because they love animals. But behind that selfie there's often a lot of abuse," Chiara Vitali, campaign manager at World Animal Protection, told the Independent. "If you're having a picture taken with a tiger cub, chances are that it's been dragged out like a prop then taken back to its cage at night when tigers should be allowed to roam. To get that picture of a lifetime, it might have taken a lifetime of animal cruelty."
Photo credit: DEA / G. CARFAGNA/De Agostini/Getty Images