The image below on the left is of a snow leopard, these stunning creatures are endangered (Jackson et al., 2008). The image on the right is the eared worm lizard, perhaps not as stunning but critically endangered (Cogger & Hutchinson, 2010). So if I asked you to donate £5 to help save one of these species which would you choose?
The Farmers Daughter: Why Being Cute Matters?
In the great crisis of endangered species surely all should be equal? Unfortunately this is not the case, when you see adverts from wwf you don’t see species like the eared worm lizard being advertised as needing your money. So why is this, well quite simply put it’s because being cute matters.
Cute just like sex sells, if a child sees a cute fluffy toy leopard for sale when you donate to the WWF they’re much more likely to ask mummy or daddy. It’s the same on the farm if ever we made a petting zoo having a bunch of ultra cute lambs that smile will bring in more money than having maybe a slightly more bull dog looking sheep.
On the other hand just because we advertise the importance of conservation it doesn’t mean that the conservation of less likeable species doesn’t go ahead. The WWF as well as other general conservation do state in there fine print that the money you put towards them goes to a general pot that is then shared into the causes that most need the money. This also includes paid for positions within the organisation.
So is this right? Well on principle not really because although you’re putting money towards an overall cause that £3 is most likely not going to the needs of a snow leopard. On another side helping the overall conservation effort is so very important so why should we not use everything we have to get the money to make it happen. Personally I agree with the latter statement by using the cute majestic looking leopards perhaps we can save the lizard too.
Cogger, H.A. & Hutchinson, M.N. 2010. Aprasia aurita. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T1920A8849788. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T1920A8849788.en . Downloaded on 16 November 2015.
Jackson, R., Mallon, D., McCarthy, T., Chundaway, R.A. & Habib, B. 2008. Panthera uncia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T22732A9381126.http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T22732A9381126.en . Downloaded on 16 November 2015.