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Animals 2019, 9(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9010016

Compassionate Conservation: Exploring the Lives of African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Botswana

1
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6, Canada
2
Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 November 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 30 December 2018 / Published: 7 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
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Simple Summary

This paper argues that animals should be positioned as subjects in research and scholarship to further develop compassionate conservation, a new field that aims to bridge conservation biology and animal welfare science. Animals can be treated as subjects by attending to their lived experiences and by recognizing their capacity to act. This paper merges interviews, blog posts, biological research, and observations to position African wild dogs as subjects in conservation research and scholarship using responsible anthropomorphism. It presents wild dogs as thinking, feeling, and sentient animals who have agency (capacity to act), and whose welfare is negatively affected by habitat loss and conflict with farmers. By positioning wild dogs as subjects, we can develop an ethical starting point for a more compassionate conservation. This ‘enriched’ scholarship allows us to more fully appreciate the complex lives of wildlife, their circumstances, and their experiences.

Abstract

This paper argues for a more compassionate conservation by positioning animals as subjects in research and scholarship. Compassionate conservation is a multidisciplinary field of study that broadly attends to the ethical dimensions of conservation by merging conservation biology and animal welfare science. However, animal geography is rarely discussed in the compassionate conservation scholarship despite sharing similar tenets. This paper argues that responsible anthropomorphism and animal geography concepts of animal subjectivity (lived experiences) and agency (capacity to act) positions African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) as subjects in conservation research and scholarship. It merges biological research, public communication, and interview and participant observation data to present wild dogs as thinking, feeling, self-conscious animals with agency, and whose welfare is negatively affected in human-dominated landscapes in Botswana. This paper argues for more attention to be paid to animal subjectivity and agency to foster more compassionate relations with wildlife. It argues that positioning animals as subjects in research and scholarship is an ethical starting point for moving compassionate conservation forward. This ‘enriched’ scholarly approach moves us closer to appreciating the lives of wildlife and the complexity of their circumstances and experiences. View Full-Text
Keywords: compassionate conservation; animal geography; animal subjectivity; animal agency; responsible anthropomorphism; wildlife conservation; animal welfare; African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus); Botswana compassionate conservation; animal geography; animal subjectivity; animal agency; responsible anthropomorphism; wildlife conservation; animal welfare; African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus); Botswana
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Fraser-Celin, V.-L.; Hovorka, A.J. Compassionate Conservation: Exploring the Lives of African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Botswana. Animals 2019, 9, 16.

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