Attitudes towards potential animal flagship species in nature conservation

; (). Attitudes towards potential animal flagship species in nature conservation: A survey among students of different educational institutions. Journal for Nature Conservation, 18, 4. 278-290. Peer reviewed.

Attitudes towards potential animal flagship species in nature conservation




Bild: J. Schlegel

Using a standardised questionnaire, a total of 415 students from two different Swiss primary schools, grammar schools and agricultural schools as well as students from a Swiss University of Applied Sciences were asked about their attitudes towards 27 different indigenous wildlife animal species. In the questionnaire, six mammal, five bird, two reptile, four amphibian and ten insect species, all with potential flagship quality, were individually presented on a colour photograph without any further background information. The participants were also asked to give individual reasons for species-related affinity or antipathy. In addition, it was ascertained whether they were able to correctly identify and name each species.
The survey shows a heterogeneous pattern, whereby butterflies, birds and most mammals are, on average, more higher appreciated than reptiles, insects (excl. butterflies) and amphibians. Furthermore, it becomes evident that attitudes do not only depend on the species themselves, but also on other factors, particularly the type of educational institution attended. In general, there is no significant difference in attitudes to animals between males and females. At species level, females show significantly higher affinity for 'loveable animals' and a lesser degree of affinity for 'fear-relevant animals'. Respondents seem to show higher affinity for species they can identify than for unfamiliar species. The authors postulate that providing targeted background information in educational institutions might help soften rigid thinking patterns by strengthening appreciation for less attractive animals.

Online: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnc.2009.12.002