In endangered species conservation, as in many aspects of life, the good looking individuals have a leg up on the competition. We often choose to protect the attractive species, while ignoring the species that aren’t as eye-catching. As Dante Alighieri once said, “Beauty awakens the soul to act”. But in conservation, we need to look for beauty in non-traditional packages.
A recent article in the Huffington Post, “11 Animals We May Allow To Go Extinct Because They’re Not Cute and Fuzzy” shines light on a serious issue – the public’s focus on only those species that we find physically beautiful. We know, from our previous science class posts, that each species has an important role to play in the ecosystem – the species fills a “niche”. Many species needing conservation aren’t exactly the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models of nature. Species such as the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, the Golden Poison Dart Frog, the short-tailed albatross, and the pygmy three-toed sloth all play important roles in their ecosystems and require species conservation efforts. Niches should be our basis for preservation (and volunteering and donating), rather than the animals’ cuteness – be sure to check out the article to learn more about the species.
But that pygmy three-toed sloth is pretty cute (photo credit: Huffington Post)….