The “Hardcore Aww” Online Group Shares Pics Of Wild Animals That Are Just Dangerously Cute
Dangerous or dangerously adorable? That’s the question that’s been running in our heads non-stop ever since we found out about the existence of the ‘Hardcore AWW’ online community. A subreddit uniting a whopping 333k internet users, r/hardcoreaww invites people to share photos of wild, proud, and powerful animals that could destroy you in a heartbeat if they wanted to, doing incredibly cute things.
The aim of the subreddit isn’t just to melt our hearts with wholesome pics of cute cheetahs, lions, wolves, and magnificent bears, though. The subreddit hopes to raise awareness about these big but lovable ‘hardcore’ animals in the hopes of protecting them and their habitats. All of the photos shared are taken in either the animals' natural habitats or wildlife sanctuaries, without any malicious interference from human beings.
We’ve collected some of the very best pics from r/hardcoreaww to share with you Pandas, so go on—scroll down and check ‘em out. Let us know which of these BIG, fierce, and independent visitors you wouldn't mind running free on your (theoretical) massive plot of land in the wild.
Have you ever worked with animal conservation? Do you volunteer with big animals? If so, tell us all about your job in the comments. Obligatory warning about dangerous levels of cuteness ahead. Remember: no petting the cubs (unless you don’t mind sharp nibbles and noms)—stick to upvotes and respectful admiration from a distance.
Meanwhile, read on for Bored Panda's interview with a representative of the Born Free Foundation, an international wildlife charity that protects wild animals in their natural habitat, campaigns against the keeping of wild animals in captivity, and rescues wild animals in need. They explained why it's vital that wild animals not be mistreated in the pursuit of cute photos and that we shouldn't ignore the plight of endangered species that don't look as adorable.
"Whilst it is good if ‘adorable photos’ create a sense of empathy towards animals, this empathy needs to be directed into positive behavior that benefits conservation and the animals in the wild. Yet, unfortunately, animals can often be mistreated in the pursuit of a cute photo, being disturbed, or harassed in ways that are detrimental to their wellbeing," a representative of the Born Free Foundation told Bored Panda.
"For example, people are continually buying wild animals as pets as a status symbol or for selfie opportunities, which is unacceptable and cruel to these individuals that belong in the wild. Also, it is easy for ‘adorable’ animals to be loved and cared about, but there are so many amazing species out there in need of conservation and we can’t forget about them," they said.
"WWF claim that at least 10,000 go extinct every year. This extinction rate is unprecedented, and we must take action. Unfortunately, not all these species are ‘cute’ and so slip quietly into extinction. Greater attention is needed to promote conservation of all species. ‘Adorable photos’ are good if they are engaging people in conservation, but it is important to consider where those photos came from and whether that is a true representation of animals in the wild. Wild animals must be respected and valued."
Speedy Danger Floofs
The Born Free Foundation also revealed to us the biggest challenge to big cat conservation at the moment. The representative noted that it is the issue of human-wildlife conflict. "Born Free works in two landscapes—Kenya and India—on lion and tiger conservation, respectively. Despite being on completely different continents, both landscapes share similar issues with conflicts. Both people and big cats suffer from these conflicts—lions and tigers prey on farmers’ livestock, resulting in subsequent retaliatory killings of the big cats. The human population is expanding, and therefore conflicts with these big cats are unfortunately increasing," they explained.
"Born Free aims to mitigate these conflicts using various initiatives that reduce the instances of human-wildlife conflict and create an enabling environment for coexistence with these iconic species. For example, in Amboseli, Kenya, Born Free have constructed over 350 predator-proof bomas (structures that protect livestock against predation), enabling pastoralists in this area to coexist with lions, helping to conserve a vulnerable species."
The Foundation also has similar initiatives in India, which aim to reduce conflicts with tigers. "We have recently trialed a stall-feeding project, whereby cattle are fed inside, rather than in the forest where they are vulnerable, thereby reducing livestock predation by tigers. In all our projects we work with the local community to foster positive perceptions towards big cat conservation, to reduce the impacts of human-wildlife conflict, and enable coexistence with iconic big cat species."
"Hold My Tusk When We Cross The Road"
There's some exciting news on the animal conservation front. The Guardian reports that wolves, brown bears, and white-tailed eagles are "among the top predators making a comeback across Europe." This level of species recovery has been helped along by effective legal protection, habitat restoration, and reintroductions. In short, human efforts have helped!
However, while animal conservation efforts can be seen taking effect across the globe, not all of them are viewed in a positive light. For instance, India has ambitious plans to reintroduce cheetahs to the subcontinent. But there's some controversy there.
Some scientists warn that these efforts might not succeed because the habitat provided to them is inadequate. Some even see it as a political tactic and a vanity project. Currently, there are only around 6,500 adult cheetahs alive today.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, some of the biggest challenges that big cats face in the wild include habitat degradation, the loss of prey, being hunted down for their fur, bones, and body parts.
A Big Cat Is Still A Cat
"Mom! You're Messing Up My Mane"
“They are also threatened by conflicts with people—their need for space leads them to range outside protected areas and to become a real or perceived threat to local people and their livestock,” WCS explains.
“Around the world, big cats are among the most recognized and admired animals, at the top of the food chain. Yet all seven species are listed as Threatened or Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, with the tiger categorized as Endangered,” the Wildlife Conservation Society writes.
Lion Cub Playing In A Pile Of Leaves
On The Coast Of British Columbia A Mutation Causes Some Black Bears To Be Born White. These Are Known As "Spirit Bears" And Have A Prominent Place In First Nations Oral Traditions
Some ways to help the populations of big cats recover include preventing illegal killing, ensuring that any hunting of big cats’ prey is both legal and sustainable, reducing conflict with humans, and ensuring connectivity between animal populations.
The r/hardcoreaww subreddit has been around for a whole decade. Founded all the way back in July of 2012, it has grown to have a loyal following of a third of a million people in that time. While some folks stay for the cute animal pics (hey, there’s nothing wrong with that!), others are more focused on helping spread the word about how we can all help protect these majestic creatures in their natural habitats.
“We value all life on the planet and agree that humans have been stripping away the natural habitats of the amazing beasts that we have demonized for our own expansion purposes, we want to highlight the importance of protecting them for the future generations,” the subreddit’s moderator team explains the goal of the community.
Look Mum I Have Your Tail
If you plan on being an active member of the ‘Hardcore AWW’ community, you’ve got to take the sub’s rules to heart. First of all, the mods highlight the need to be nice to others. That’s par for the course in all online interactions, of course. Respectful debate is absolutely encouraged; flaming people, however, is definitely not.
The moderators stress that the photos you share can’t have signs of a “bad human-made situation” for the animals featured. For instance, you shouldn’t be sharing photos that show possible neglect, abuse, bad living conditions, wildlife in human homes, small cages, bad food, and bad zoos. If you plan on sharing pics of rehabilitations, they have to have been done by qualified professionals.
Polar Bear Cub Trying To Stay Warm
Cute Little Wolf Cub
“If there are signs of humans, you MUST add details to the post title proving a good life is lived. To ensure we're not accidentally promoting abusive situations, if there are posts that show evidence of humans in any way they must have information about the shot/video IN THE POST TITLE,” the moderators explain what other information you should share, depending on the type of pic posted.
“Answer these kinds of questions: 1) Why are there signs of humans, and how are the humans improving the lives of the animal? 2) Which sanctuary is this? 3) What was the story behind the animal? Is it a rehab? 4) Why is it interacting with humans at all?”
Taking A Bath
Lion Cub Encounters Its Reflection
Meanwhile, members of the community should try to keep the content free from signs of injuries and hunting trophies. Now, obviously, these animals are dangerous and they hunt other living things for sustenance. However, the subreddit aims to “respect their beauty and not demonize them.”
Little Bear Cub In Deep Thought
If you share any photos that aren’t yours, do your best to credit the original photographer. And if you ever have doubts about whether or not a particular animal pic belongs on the sub, consider whether they could, theoretically, hurt a dozen or so people if they wanted to. Nobody actually wants to see these animals hurting anyone, obviously, but the ‘dangerous’ part in the ‘cute and dangerous’ can’t be entirely ignored, either.