Sloth dilemma

Suzi Eszterhas's Image

Suzi Eszterhas (USA) captures an encounter between a sloth and a dog.

The brown-throated sloth had already made it across a road, but to reach the next clump of trees it needed to return to the ground and crawl. That was when it met this big dog.

When this sloth sensed danger, it froze. Suzi was fearful, as she remarks how 'dogs often attack sloths'. Fortunately, this particular dog did no more than sniff. 'It had recently taken part in a training programme run by the Sloth Conservation Foundation,' Suzi explains, 'so when the owners called it off, the dog obeyed'.

In the rainforest, sloths move very slowly between trees high in the canopy, feeding on young leaves. They descend only to defecate, about once every five days. But with increasing habitat loss and the fragmentation of the nearby forest, sloths are increasingly forced on vulnerable journeys across urbanised areas to find food, suitable habitats and mates.

How you can help

  • The best way to help wild animals is to respect their space. If you see a sloth, or other wild animal, make sure to keep your distance, stay quiet and don't use flash photography - all these things can be very stressful for wild animals.
  • If you see an animal in danger or distress, contact a local animal rescue service immediately. Research the most common human-animal conflicts in your area and see what you can do to prevent them in the future.
  • If you live in an urban area, join a local community group that is working to protect urban green spaces near your home. If you can't find one, start one with family and friends.

See all the images in focus.

Behind the lens

Suzi Eszterhas


Suzi is an award-winning wildlife photographer best known for her work documenting newborn animals and animal family life in the wild. She has photographed more than 100 cover and feature stories for various publications and has authored 21 books. She is a Trustee of the Sloth Conservation Foundation and the founder of Girls Who Click, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging young women to enter the photography profession.

Image details

  • Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
  • 24–70mm f2.8 lens at 41mm
  • 1/200 sec at f4  •   ISO 400
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

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