To make an eye to eye contact with a wild animal is a privilege and inherent in that privilege is responsibility. Like doctors, our first responsibility is to ‘do no harm’. That means that we don’t put ourselves in danger and that we don’t put our wildlife subjects under stress. The well being of wildlife is certainly more important than any photograph.
Author, scientist, ecologist, and environmentalist Aldo Leopold was very influential in the development of modern environmental ethics. He makes the point that:
Ethical behaviour is doing the right thing when no one else is watching - even when doing the wrong thing is legal.
Here are some guidelines:
Keep your distance
Never startle, harass or force an animal to move or react
Always give wildlife an escape route
Never get between a parent and their babies
Don’t feed the animals
Never disturb nests or dens,
Don’t damage or remove plants, and
Take your trash with you.