Giraffes and elephants are known and loved by people all over the world; both by people who live in the same countries as these animals, and people who know them from zoos, story books, toys, and films.
Surely the universal love for these species will help protect their populations in the wild because people want to protect them?
A recent study by French scientist Franck Courchamp and colleagues suggests this may not be the case. Courchamp and his colleagues determined the ten most charismatic species of animals to people using several types of information including surveys of school children and frequency or appearance on zoo websites. They determined that the ten most charismatic animals are the tiger, the lion, the elephant, the giraffe, the leopard, the panda, the cheetah, the polar bear, the gray wolf, and the gorilla.
All of these species have experienced severe population declines over the last century and are critically imperiled in the wild. Courchamp et al. performed surveys and polls about the public’s awareness of whether these charismatic animals are endangered. From this data they determined that the public is largely not aware that these well-known and loved animals are endangered and in need of urgent conservation.
Celebrating Africa’s Giants exists to help develop this public awareness and conservation engagement for giraffes, elephants, rhinos, and their fellow savanna inhabitants and their ecosystems. Our goal is to help these species remain popular in films and books and in the wild for the 21st century and beyond.
Story by David Brown. Photos by Wild Nature Institute.