Why do we need to value elephants more to improve our lives?

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of researchers has noted the values ​​and benefits of large animals that people often neglect. What is special about them? And how can they improve people’s lives?

Collaboration between universities in England and South Africa has shown that conservative strategies are often narrowly focused and tend to prioritize certain values ​​of nature, such as economic or environmental over moral ones.

Focusing on the example of elephants, scientists have found factors that often conflict with the animals’ environmental, cultural and spiritual contributions (financial benefits, including ecotourism, trophy hunting).

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Scientists took elephants for an unusual example, as well as metaphors

Animal protection

Thus, an incomplete understanding or consideration of the value systems of all stakeholders involved in the process of general conservation of natural and human resources (conservation) leads to social inequality, conflicts and unsustainable development strategies.

Study co-author Antoinette van de Water, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, said: “We chose to use elephants as an example because their conservation can be particularly challenging and controversial.

We are not saying that the economic contribution is not important, but there are many different values, and all of them must be taken into account in conservation strategies if they are to be successful.”

Co-author Dr Lucy Bates of the University of Portsmouth explained: “Whether it is an economic, environmental or social approach to values ​​– [any] can affect the success of a conservation strategy.

Consider, for example, the ivory trade. The international trade in ivory is illegal, but many countries in southern Africa want to restart it.

This will lead to divisions on the African continent. If you focus less on the potential economic value of ivory and look at other ways elephants can support communities, it could be a game and life changer.”

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The well-being of nature affects the life of mankind

How to improve life

The study recommends that the moral values ​​associated with biodiversity conservation be included in the assessment of conservation strategies in order to create a positive relationship between benefits to humans and nature.

The scientists believe this approach will help policy makers and managers better understand what, again, for example, elephants mean to people, why elephants are important in their own right, and what values ​​and interests are at stake.

This approach can be applied to other species and ecosystems. “What is really needed is a change in mindset,” added Antoinette van de Water.

“Conservation policies are often based on price tags. Our pluralistic valuation system offers solutions that are based not on economic benefits or political status for the few, but instead on the long-term common good and the goals and aspirations of society.”


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