Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

why the megafauna? January 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 1:45 pm
Tags: , ,

What do walruses, tigers, and the Javan rhino have in common?

According to this they are the “10 most threatened species of 2010.”

The title seems a bit disingenuous, not because these animals aren’t threatened, but because I have my doubts about them being the 10 most threatened. Seven out of the ten are large mammals. Nine out of ten are megafauna. To the credit of the WWF they did not title this list as the most threatened, but as a species-to-watch list. Which makes more sense because I’m sure there are quite a few species (and not just animals) that are as close or closer to extinction.

Why is there such a large focus on megafauna within conservation, animal rights, and just about everything? Is it because mammalian megafauna are more similar to us, or because they are cuter, or because they are big enough to notice? Do we need to focus on the big and fluffy instead of the slimy, creepy, and crawly?

I recognize that it is an easy way to get (some/more) people to care, but is it the best way?

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3 Responses to “why the megafauna?”

  1. adam Says:

    I’d guess that there is something deeply stirring about these figures to the human psyche. Their similarity evoke the uncanny, which is a very alluring experience. That such creatures have evoked religious awe since the dawn of human art, with the disapearance of some of these species is death, perhaps, of a primordial humanity.

    Putting our aesthetic/value hierarchy to the test of reason, bracketing-off our social and evolutionary inheritance, comes secondary and requires of us more will. Unfortunately, many people do not even realize that such a shift in aesthetics/value is both possible and reasonable, assuming their own to be “natural”/objective, and thus proceed to assign reason to it.

  2. Deb Says:

    Reminds me of something that Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd said: no one pays attention to the work he does for the sea urchins, all they know is the work he does with the whales and baby seals.

    So, I wonder if something like that isn’t at play? For sure more people are going to be interested in saving the panda than a slug, but at the same time I’m sure there *are* a lot of people involved in protecting the habitats of “creepy crawlies”, they’re just not getting the same kind of press.

    Sort of similar, it’s much much easier to get people to be concerned about prey species than predators.

  3. Doris Says:

    I’m sure there are some seriously endangered plant species, and plants are more essential to the ecosystem than animals are.

    But what is the purpose of the list? To raise awareness about environmental issues and endangered species? Well, it fails for the reasons cited in the blog post. Is the purpose to get people to care about animals? Then it doesn’t matter how endangered they are. A cow does not suffer less than a tiger.

    Seems more like WWF wanted to raise awareness about WWF.


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