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Alligator attacks drone after TikTok video goes awry

Capturing photos and videos of wildlife often means walking a tightrope of getting close enough for a great shot without endangering the animal you're shooting. Unfortunately, every so often, a photographer or influencer makes headlines for all the wrong reasons. A recent video posted on TikTok shows a travel influencer flying a drone so close to an alligator that it snatches it from the air, causing the device to explode in its mouth.

Dev H Langer, who was visiting the Everglades, Florida, was captured flying the drone less than a meter from the alligator. It appears that the proximity of the drone aggravated the alligator, which leaps into the air and attacks the DJI Spark (opens in new tab). A few seconds later, puffs of smoke can be seen billowing from the alligator’s mouth, most likely caused by the battery exploding. 

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Lithium-ion batteries contain flammable electrolytes that can lead to explosions and fires when damaged. The contents of the battery burn at a high temperature and also release toxic gas. It’s very likely the alligator in the video would have been badly injured from the incident, or possibly even died. 

As drone technology has become more affordable over the years, the conversation about how drones should be used around wildlife has become more important. Drones can be incredibly useful for monitoring, tracking and recording (opens in new tab) the movements of wildlife. However, drones have also been known to disrupt and destroy habitats. Only recently a drone crashed at a bird nesting site in Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve (opens in new tab), California, causing thousands of Elegant Terns to abandon their nests. 

First discovered by PetaPixel (opens in new tab), this video explicitly shows the danger of flying drones too close to your subjects. Influencer Dev H Langer turned the comment feature off on TikTok (opens in new tab), but commenters on Youtube were quick to criticize her actions. One person wrote “Ok now charge and fine her with wildlife harassment. This was intentional,” while another wrote, “That was cruel, leave wild animals alone”.

The U.S Department of Agriculture's website states that drones users should not, "fly over or near wildlife as this can create stress that may cause significant harm and even death. Intentional disturbance of animals during breeding, nesting, rearing of young, or other critical life history functions is not allowed unless approved as research or management."

While harming or killing an alligator is a third-degree felony in Florida, there have been no reports of whether Dev H Langer will face legal action.

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.