At least 10,000 species go extinct each year, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The question is, how do we decide who to save first? The first few animals that might come to mind are pandas, tigers, manatees, or any other charismatic creature you might know of. However, many conservation projects today have taken a much less rational approach to saving the ‘right’ species. We tend to lean towards the more captivating and lovable creatures rather than ones that are more endangered, cheaper to save, and important to different ecosystems. This is why animal conservation projects should take more rational approaches to saving endangered species.
Our desire to help the more attractive creatures has pushed scientists to publish more papers focusing on those few animals, since they have an easier time publishing if the animals are well-known, likable species according to Hakai Magazine. This results in a larger incentive for the scientists to focus on a select few. It is our job as a society to help push for more scientific research which will lead to more logical approaches to conservation projects.
We believe that there are much more important animals in this world to save than the so called “celebrity animals” like pandas, manatees, tigers, and others. Society ignores these animals even if they are a vital contribution to the balance of the ecosystem. An example of a cheaper animal to protect is the New Zealand’s Maud Island frogs, which could be saved with the cost of keeping one panda alive in captivity for half a year, according to Minuteearth. Another example of an ‘essential’ animal is the sea otter, they only received $1.5 million over the past five years. According to onegreenplanet.org, sea otters have a very large impact on the whole ecosystem, as they can help spread around sea urchins. Sea urchins play a very important role in controlling kelp forests, which are significantly important for the environment. This allows all types of sea creatures to survive.
Some may say that defunding the current big conservation projects further is cruel, and that we shouldn’t let the more likable animals go extinct. After all, a world without, say, pandas would be a disaster without the cute, fuzzy, and lovable animals tumbling around lazily on the ground. However, we should treat animals in a more balanced way, based off of their importance, rarity, and cost-efficiency. Saving the animals that are more important to their ecosystems will help many more species in the long run and prevent entire ecosystems from collapsing. Moreover, the animals that are cheaper to save will take less money from the larger conservation organizations and will be more beneficial to different species living in those ecosystems.
Taking more rational approaches will result in innumerable benefits, most importantly saving more money, more species and preventing entire ecosystems from collapsing. If we start to recognise how vital the underdog species are, in the long term, we could save the ‘foundations’ of the ecosystems. Eventually these ecosystems would become more sustainable which would result in less money being spent on these organisations and preserving wildlife. Therefore, animal conservation projects should be based off of reasonable conclusions drawn from scientific data rather than what we find attractive or appealing to the eye.