What do you think???
I think that the name of the animal doesn’t necessarily impact its protection status. Ecologists compile endangered lists based on how much of a certain species remains alive, in the wild and in captivity. ‘Tiger’ is a relatively common name, and yet, efforts are being to protect them. Plus, if you’re thinking of common names rather than scientific nomenclatures (which are all pretty rare-sounding to the average person), then you have to remember that the name changes with language. For example, ‘whale’ is ‘baleine’ in French. With that said, if an animal’s name sounds more rare, it could work either for or against that animal in terms of publicity. Some people may want to save an animal that sounds more rare, yet others would pay more attention to campaigns for familiar animals. Overall though, endangered animals should be protected regardless of name.
I don’t think that the rarity of the name affects the protection status of a species. I do think however, that in terms of publicity and fundraising efforts, a more popular animal (and therefore perhaps a more common name) will receive more attention. More popular animals tend to be animals we can relate with, mainly mammals, or species that we determine as “cute” or “beautiful.” Which I would put to simple human nature, neither good or bad, but just the way we’re wired.
I think I’ve seen what you’re talking about with animals like orcas. I used to live in the Seattle area, and everyone LOVED orcas. They are pretty cool to look at, plus they have a really cool name. Now I live nearish the Oregon coast, and people get excited about gray whales–but not NEARLY the same as orcas.
I would argue that humans need to try to fight our nature a little bit, and not only save the cute animals. There are many animals I don’t want to cuddle, but I know that’s not a good reason to save them.
I like your question, and at first had trouble finding an animal with a common sounding name which was considered rare. I realized then that there are numerous whale species which have common sounding names like “North Atlantic right whale” or “Western Pacific grey whale” which are actually incredibly rare (and therefore endangered). In the case of the Western Pacific, fewer than 120 species are thought to exist in the wild. Their numbers are so low that the death of just three breeding females could wipe the species out altogether. But this case aside, I tend to agree with the first poster – scientific names, for instance, are always rare sounding and endangered species lists are indeed drawn up by population sizes.
I defintely think that species even more than a name is influential in how much people care. For example – everyone is extremely disturbed by the killing of dolphins (as am I), but frequently the conversation is about the killing of dolphins caught in the nets to kill tuna – which no one really cares about the tuna! Sometimes people care about beautiful animals such as cougars and wolves – but ranchers and farmers are less enthralled since they are impacted in a different way and not simply influenced by their beauty.
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