An Introduction to Wildlife Conservation: Animal Agency 

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What is Wildlife Conservation?

Wildlife conservation is preserving and protecting animals, plants, and their habitats (The National Wildlife Federation, n.d.). Conserving wildlife is vital for future generations so that they can enjoy, learn, and experience our natural environment (The National Wildlife Federation, n.d.). In order to protect wildlife, society must understand how our natural ecosystems are affected by the environment and human influences. As the population continues to multiply, our natural resources are being consumed and extracted from the planet faster than ever before (The National Wildlife Federation, n.d.). This means that as the human population continues to grow rapidly, our ecosystems and wildlife are at risk of extinction and degradation. 

What is Animal Agency?

There have been different ways that scientists and researchers have been understanding and choosing to deal with wildlife conservation efforts worldwide (Edebblutte, É., 2022). Continuous human-caused pressures like climate change on habitats increase the contact between humans and animals as their habitats are destroyed (Edebblutte, É., 2022). Animals are found roaming in urban and suburban regions, being forced out of their habitats. Therefore, wildlife conservationists must find proactive solutions that will effectively conserve our wildlife (Edebblutte, É., 2022). Some examples include restoring habitats through nature-based solutions and restricting certain areas where species live to prevent the destruction of habitats. Finally, a relatively new approach is “Animal Agency”; it has been presented to communities as a solution to enhancing wildlife conservation. 

Animal Agency involves humans recognizing species as complex beings whose individuality and sociality influence and impact their relationships with society (Edebblutte, É., 2022). In contrast to treating wildlife as objects to be “dealt with,” society can look to animal behaviors such as actions, personalities, and human relationships to make conservationists aware of how best to preserve animal populations (Edebblutte, É., 2022). This ensures that animals can be seen as partners in their own conservation. 

Example of Animal Agency in Research: 

Scientists conducted an example of Animal Agency in Brazil, where they studied the calf survival of bottlenose dolphins cooperating with fishermen (Bezamat et al., 2019). They found that female bottlenose dolphins have a relationship with fishers in Brazil. They concluded that due to their small sample size, they must continue to monitor the relationship between the dolphins and the fisherman to determine the calf’s long-term survival (Bezamat et al., 2019). However, they found that this relationship’s outcome revealed that individual dolphins have socially learned cooperative foraging tactics that benefit both dolphins and humans (Bezamat et al., 2019). This is just one of the many examples implemented and researched to determine if this approach is effective in wildlife conservation initiatives.

Therefore, with continued research and implementation of case studies examining human and wildlife interactions, society can continue to show how Animal Agencies may be the positive approach to protecting wildlife! 

 “Animals are also a part of this world, and therefore, they also need to be protected and saved”

– Anonymous. 

References 

The National Wildlife Federation (n.d.). Understanding Conservation. Retrieved August 10, 2023, from https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Understanding-Conservation

Edebblutte, É. (2022, March 9). POV: The Secret to Wildlife Conservation Might Be the “Animal Agency” Approach—Giving Creatures a Role in Their Own Preservation. The Brink. Retrieved August 10, 2023, from https://www.bu.edu/articles/2022/key-to-wildlife-conservation-might-be-animal-agency-approach/

Bezamat, C., Castilho, P. V., Simões-Lopes, P. C., Ingram, S. N., & Daura-Jorge, F. G. (2019). Reproductive parameters and factors influencing calf survival of bottlenose dolphins that engage in a unique foraging cooperation with fishermen. Marine Biology, 167(1). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-019-3611-4 

An Introduction to Wildlife Conservation: Animal Agency

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