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In Conservation Practice

Animal Welfare

What is Compassionate Conservation?

Populations of animals are not homogenous, abstract entities, but comprise unique individuals – in the case of sentient animals, each with its own desires and needs and a capacity to suffer.

Animal welfare as a science and a concern, with its focus on the individual animal, and conservation biology and practice, which has historically focussed on populations and species, have tended to be considered as distinct. However, it is becoming clear that knowledge and techniques from animal welfare science can inform and refine conservation practice, and that consideration of animal welfare in a conservation context can lead to better conservation outcomes, while engendering increased stakeholder support.

Compassionate conservation represents a multi-disciplinary approach to bring the practices and sciences of animal welfare and conservation biology closer together.

At the very least, by adopting a compassionate conservation approach, we can deliver more humane, welfare-friendly conservation. More importantly, compassionate conservation represents a new paradigm: a new way of ensuring the protection of animals and their habitats.

Compassionate Conservation Defined

At the heart of Compassionate Conservation lie individuals: individual animals, individual species, habitats and ecosystems and the need for their support and protection

Will Travers OBE, President of the Born Free Foundation

Compassionate conservation is a new mindset and social movement that translates discussions and concerns about the well-being of individuals into action”.

…it is a good beginning for getting individual well-being into conversations  about a wide variety of conservation projects”.

Prof. Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado, Boulder

Compassionate conservation is conservation with a heart.   It puts the humanity back into caring for the natural world.   This isn’t to say that it advocates anthropomorphic bunny-hugging, but instead it demands a respect for the individual.   Anyone who has had the good fortune to get to know individual wild animals, as I have with gorillas and elephants, will realise that each individual in a population matters, and conservation policies should take into account the welfare of individuals as well as the fate of species and their habitat.   This may be a new approach in Western science, but in fact it brings modern conservation thinking into line with long-held Asian traditions that respect all life.

Ian Redmond OBE

“Animal welfare is not only a potent component of the conservationist’s toolkit, it is also an important consideration in the choices that conservationists face”

Will Travers OBE and Prof. David Macdonald CBE, University of Oxford

“As human population and consumption of resources rise to unprecedented levels, how we live – our buildings, transportation systems, energy use, food production methods and so on  –  have become the dominant influence on the other inhabitants of the planet.  Challenges to “conservation” and challenges to “animal welfare” now tend to merge. We need a new and coherent ethic that includes people, animals and the natural world.”

Prof. David Fraser CM, University of British Columbia