Anthropomorphism has recently emerged in the literature as a useful tool for conservation. Within the current conservation literature, description of the development of anthropomorphisms and the range of species that can be anthropomorphized overlooks established and emerging evidence from anthropological and other social science studies of human–animal relationships.
This research shows that people anthropomorphize a very broad range of species, including plants. We discuss how people construct anthropomorphic meanings around species, through a diversity of mechanisms and with both positive and negative effects. We then review the many gradations and forms of anthropomorphism, and some related conceptions in non-Western cultures, which have different types of utility for conservation. Finally we discuss cases where animals are anthropomorphized but with negative outcomes for human-animal interactions and conservation.
Limiting the use of anthropomorphism in conservation to pro-social, intelligent, suffering animals risks suggesting that other species are not worthy of conservation because they are not like humans in the ‘‘right’’ ways. It would also mean overlooking the application of a powerful tool to the promotion of low-profile species with high biological conservation value. We emphasize that negative outcomes and conflicts with ecosystem-level conservation actions are also possible and need to be carefully managed. Use of anthropomorphism conservation must take into account how people engage with species and attribute value to their characteristics.
Root-Bernstein et al. (2013). Anthropomorphized species as tools for conservation: utility beyond prosocial, intelligent and suffering species. Biodiversity Conservation. 22:1577–1589.
When it comes to protecting wildlife, those who work to protect animals against poaching are up against some serious obstacles. Lack of funds often leave rangers overworked and underpaid, often not even with adequate equipment to patrol such an expansive area. In some countries, rangers aren’t even allowed to carry firearms even though they are up against armed poachers. Some poachers have even gained employment as rangers in order to have better access to the animals. Even the rangers with the best of intentions are struggling to combat poaching and keep the animals alive.
Stephanie Broekarts's insight:
I think this is one of the more just ways of using drones, in a battle that seems hopeless in any other way. I just hope that there are a lot less 'incidents' with unwanted casualties than there have been in the Middle East.
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