Wildlife Conservation and Ethics

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Ethics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2022) | Viewed by 24083

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science, Università degli Studi di Padova, Viale dell’Università 16, Agripolis, 35020 Legnaro, Italy
Interests: conservation ethics; animal welfare ethics; animal welfare and conservation; veterinary ethics; ethical reasoning; ethical review process; ethics and darwinism
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Guest Editor
Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science, Università degli Studi di Padova, Viale dell’Università 16, Agripolis, 35020 Legnaro, PD, Italy
Interests: applied ethology; veterinary behavioural medicine; human–animal relationship; environmental enrichment; animal quality of life; behavioural observations
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Reproduction Management, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife, Berlin, Germany
Interests: conservation ethics; conflict analysis; values clarification; ethical review processes of conservation projects; ethical and theoretical aspects in biodiversity conservation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the era of the sixth mass extinction, wildlife conservation is an increasingly urgent topic. As a value-laden enterprise, it is generally guided by confidence in the worth of biodiversity and the natural environment. However, decision-making processes in wildlife conservation do not involve only environmental values but intersect with several other ethical issues, such as demands of social justice or respect for animal welfare. These kinds of ethical conflicts may severely compromise the success of conservation efforts. This Special Issue aims to focus on the ethical dimension of wildlife conservation in all its different meanings and levels and welcomes contributions from all fields of expertise in conservation. Special attention will be devoted to recent developments and to possible challenges raised by crucial events on a worldwide scale, such as the massive fires in Australia and other countries, or the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

We welcome submissions addressing any relevant topic regarding the relationship between ethics and wildlife conservation. Contributions include but are not limited to the following categories: theoretical contributions that expound, analyze, compare, and question the different ethical perspectives that may guide conservation efforts; research papers and case reports; papers highlighting usually marginalized or utterly unexplored ethical issues and conflicts in wildlife conservation, or that show unexpected and non-environmentally related ethical relevance of conservation efforts.

Dr. Barbara de Mori
Dr. Simona Normando
Dr. Pierfrancesco Biasetti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • wildlife conservation
  • conservation ethics
  • animal welfare and conservation
  • tools for ethical analysis in conservation
  • value conflicts in conservation
  • social justice and conservation

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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23 pages, 6403 KiB  
Article
Illegal Harvesting within a Protected Area: Spatial Distribution of Activities, Social Drivers of Wild Meat Consumption, and Wildlife Conservation
by Sarah Bortolamiol, Thierry Feuillet, Wilson Kagoro, Rukia Namirembe, Edward Asalu and Sabrina Krief
Animals 2023, 13(5), 771; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13050771 - 21 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2691
Abstract
The African tropical forests host an inestimable number of resources, including food, medicine, vegetal and animal species. Among them, chimpanzees are threatened with extinction by human activities affecting their habitats, such as forest product harvesting, and/or more directly, snaring and trafficking. We aimed [...] Read more.
The African tropical forests host an inestimable number of resources, including food, medicine, vegetal and animal species. Among them, chimpanzees are threatened with extinction by human activities affecting their habitats, such as forest product harvesting, and/or more directly, snaring and trafficking. We aimed to better understand the spatial distribution of these illegal activities, and the reasons for setting snares and consuming wild meat in an agricultural landscape (subsistence farming and cash crops) densely populated near a protected area (Sebitoli, Northern part of Kibale National Park, Uganda). To carry out this study, we combined GPS records of illegal activities collected with group counts (in total, n = 339 tea workers, 678 villagers, and 1885 children) and individual interviews (n = 74 tea workers, 42 villagers, and 35 children). A quarter of illegal activities collected (n = 1661) targeted animal resources and about 60% were recorded in specific areas (southwest and northeast) of the Sebitoli chimpanzee home range. Wild meat consumption, which is illegal in Uganda, is a relatively common practice among participants (17.1% to 54.1% of respondents depending on actor types and census methods). However, consumers declared that they eat wild meat unfrequently (0.6 to 2.8 times per year). Being a young man coming from districts contiguous to Kibale National Park particularly raises the odds of consuming wild meat. Such an analysis contributes to the understanding of wild meat hunting among traditional rural and agricultural societies from East Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Conservation and Ethics)
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19 pages, 515 KiB  
Article
How Should We Help Wild Animals Cope with Climate Change? The Case of the Iberian Lynx
by Falco van Hassel and Bernice Bovenkerk
Animals 2023, 13(3), 453; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13030453 - 28 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3299
Abstract
Climate change and related shifts in weather conditions result in massive biodiversity declines and severe animal suffering. This article explores the measures that can be taken to decrease animal suffering and prevent species from going extinct. Taking the Iberian lynx as a case [...] Read more.
Climate change and related shifts in weather conditions result in massive biodiversity declines and severe animal suffering. This article explores the measures that can be taken to decrease animal suffering and prevent species from going extinct. Taking the Iberian lynx as a case study, we assess the extent to which it is beneficial for animal welfare and species conservation to do nothing or reduce other threats, provide food or shelter, relocate the species via assisted migration, or bring the population into captivity. We argue that, given the Iberian lynx’s non-invasive characteristics, assisted migration may be the best way to protect the species while ensuring animal welfare and protecting wildness and other ecosystem values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Conservation and Ethics)
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19 pages, 1376 KiB  
Article
Development of A Tool for Assessing the Reputation of Zoos: The Zoo Ethical Reputation Survey (ZERS)
by Maria Michela Spiriti, Francesco Maria Melchiori, Paul Wilhelm Dierkes, Linda Ferrante, Francesca Bandoli, Pierfrancesco Biasetti and Barbara de Mori
Animals 2022, 12(20), 2802; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12202802 - 17 Oct 2022
Viewed by 2846
Abstract
Nowadays, most zoos have taken prominent and active positions in endangered species conservation and educating visitors about the value of biodiversity. However, to be effective and trusted in their mission, they must act ethically and have a good reputation. Yet, the drivers that [...] Read more.
Nowadays, most zoos have taken prominent and active positions in endangered species conservation and educating visitors about the value of biodiversity. However, to be effective and trusted in their mission, they must act ethically and have a good reputation. Yet, the drivers that can influence their reputation are still little investigated, and there are still few studies focused on assessing the reputation of these institutions. In the present work, we report the development of a tool, the Zoo Ethical Reputation Survey (ZERS), and its pilot application to assess the opinions of the visitors of two zoos, one in Italy and one in Germany, on drivers that may influence the ethical reputation of zoos. Preliminary results based on the answers of 274 respondents show that visitors’ opinions on zoos acting with ethical responsibility are correlated with emotional appeal and familiarity with these institutions. The application of ZERS can help zoos identify weaknesses in their reputation and develop new strategies to improve people’s attitudes towards them, bringing many benefits to the individual zoo and zoological institutions in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Conservation and Ethics)
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19 pages, 1424 KiB  
Article
Environmental DNA as Novel Technology: Lessons in Agenda Setting and Framing in News Media
by Amy Fitzgerald, Jennifer Halliday and Daniel Heath
Animals 2021, 11(10), 2874; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102874 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2069
Abstract
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an emerging technology used for understanding ecosystems, environmental change, and stressors. Cellular and extracellular DNA are collected from environmental samples instead of individual wildlife animals, and as such eDNA comes with associated logistical and ethical benefits. It is increasingly [...] Read more.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an emerging technology used for understanding ecosystems, environmental change, and stressors. Cellular and extracellular DNA are collected from environmental samples instead of individual wildlife animals, and as such eDNA comes with associated logistical and ethical benefits. It is increasingly being used, yet to date public knowledge and perceptions of eDNA have not been explored. Given that most of the public gathers scientific information from news media sources, this is a logical first place to start. This paper reports on a framing and agenda-setting analysis of news media coverage of eDNA in Canada and the United States from 2000 to 2020. The findings indicate that eDNA is being framed as an emerging and powerful tool, although questions regarding its validity and reliability are raised vis-à-vis identifying the presence of invasive species. Less than half of the news articles analyzed address broader social or ethical issues in relation to eDNA, and the majority focus on the potential financial impacts of eDNA findings on development projects and business interests. The potential ethical advantages of non-lethal sampling methods used via eDNA sampling are not addressed, nor are the potential ethical issues raised by its potential use in bioprospecting, indicating that the current state of agenda setting regarding eDNA in these newspapers is focused on economic impacts, to the exclusion of potential ethical issues. This unfolding news coverage will likely be key to understanding public perceptions of this novel technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Conservation and Ethics)
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24 pages, 269 KiB  
Article
Wildlife Farms, Stigma and Harm
by Jessica Bell Rizzolo
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1783; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101783 - 1 Oct 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3750
Abstract
Wildlife farming, the commercial breeding and legal sale of non-domesticated species, is an increasingly prevalent, persistently controversial, and understudied conservation practice. The adoption or rejection of wildlife farms is a complex process that incorporates numerous ethical considerations: conservation, livelihoods, animal welfare, and cultural [...] Read more.
Wildlife farming, the commercial breeding and legal sale of non-domesticated species, is an increasingly prevalent, persistently controversial, and understudied conservation practice. The adoption or rejection of wildlife farms is a complex process that incorporates numerous ethical considerations: conservation, livelihoods, animal welfare, and cultural practices. This paper uses qualitative interview data with key informants (academics) to analyze (a) the harms and benefits of wildlife farms and (b) the factors that influence whether wildlife farms are stigmatized or accepted. In evaluations of wildlife farming’s harms and benefits, respondents incorporated multiple considerations: animal welfare, environmental impacts, scale disparities between sustenance and commercial farms, consumer preferences, species differences, the substitutability and accessibility of wildlife products, and governance. The results further indicated that the stigmatization or acceptance of wildlife farms is affected by the “wildlife farm” label, if there is a stigma around use of a species, a form of production, or the perceived quality of a wildlife product, cultural differences in wildlife use, wildlife consumer typology, geopolitical factors, and demand reduction efforts. This paper analyzes the complexities of wildlife farming such that stakeholders can understand the impacts of this practice on species, human communities, individual animals, and the legal and illegal wildlife trades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Conservation and Ethics)

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7 pages, 211 KiB  
Commentary
Fertility Control and the Welfare of Free-Roaming Horses and Burros on U.S. Public Lands: The Need for an Ethical Framing
by Allen T. Rutberg, John W. Turner, Jr and Karen Herman
Animals 2022, 12(19), 2656; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12192656 - 3 Oct 2022
Viewed by 2148
Abstract
To be effective and publicly acceptable, management of free-roaming horses and burros in the United States and elsewhere needs a consistent ethical framing of the animals and the land they occupy. In the U.S., the two laws that largely govern wild horse and [...] Read more.
To be effective and publicly acceptable, management of free-roaming horses and burros in the United States and elsewhere needs a consistent ethical framing of the animals and the land they occupy. In the U.S., the two laws that largely govern wild horse and burro management, the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act and the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act (“FLPMA”), rest on conflicting foundations, the former based on an ethic of care and the latter on largely utilitarian principles. These conflicts specifically fuel debates over the selection of appropriate fertility control agents for horse and burro management. Because land-use and management decisions are largely controlled by the FLPMA, and because the ethical treatment of animals is typically considered under conditions established by their use, both the larger debate about equids and land management and the specific debate about fertility control are dominated by cost/benefit calculations and avoid broader ethical considerations. In our view, the long-term health and ethical treatment of free-roaming horses and burros, the lands they occupy, and the wildlife and people they share it with will require the replacement of the resource-use model with a more holistic, care-based approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Conservation and Ethics)
22 pages, 1825 KiB  
Commentary
Finding Purpose in the Conservation of Biodiversity by the Commingling of Science and Ethics
by John A. Vucetich, Ewan A. Macdonald, Dawn Burnham, Jeremy T. Bruskotter, Dominic D. P. Johnson and David W. Macdonald
Animals 2021, 11(3), 837; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030837 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4395
Abstract
Averting the biodiversity crisis requires closing a gap between how humans tend to behave, individually and collectively, and how we ought to behave—“ought to” in the sense of behaviors required to avert the biodiversity crisis. Closing that gap requires synthesizing insight from ethics [...] Read more.
Averting the biodiversity crisis requires closing a gap between how humans tend to behave, individually and collectively, and how we ought to behave—“ought to” in the sense of behaviors required to avert the biodiversity crisis. Closing that gap requires synthesizing insight from ethics with insights from social and behavioral sciences. This article contributes to that synthesis, which presents in several provocative hypotheses: (i) Lessening the biodiversity crisis requires promoting pro-conservation behavior among humans. Doing so requires better scientific understanding of how one’s sense of purpose in life affects conservation-relevant behaviors. Psychology and virtue-focused ethics indicate that behavior is importantly influenced by one’s purpose. However, conservation psychology has neglected inquiries on (a) the influence of one’s purpose (both the content and strength of one’s purpose) on conservation-related behaviors and (b) how to foster pro-conservation purposes; (ii) lessening the biodiversity crisis requires governance—the regulation of behavior by governments, markets or other organization through various means, including laws, norms, and power—to explicitly take conservation as one of its fundamental purposes and to do so across scales of human behaviors, from local communities to nations and corporations; (iii) lessening the biodiversity crisis requires intervention via governance to nudge human behavior in line with the purpose of conservation without undue infringement on other basic values. Aligning human behavior with conservation is inhibited by the underlying purpose of conservation being underspecified. Adequate specification of conservation’s purpose will require additional interdisciplinary research involving insights from ethics, social and behavioral sciences, and conservation biology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Conservation and Ethics)
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