The Critical Role of Psychology in the Conservation of Nonhuman

The Critical Role of Psychology in the Conservation of Nonhuman Animals
Lori Marino
The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy and Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Traditional conservation practices, which focus on population size and species-level
viability analyses, are missing a crucial component of conservation: the individual
animals who make up these aggregates. Furthermore, invasive interventions such as
culling, translocation, habitat restriction and “sustainable harvesting”, create more
problems than they solve because these practices do not take into account the lives and
welfare of individual animals. As a result, several conservation practices that rely upon
“numbers” as a metric for success or invasive approaches have not only failed to protect
certain populations, they have made matters worse. Examples include the ongoing
problematic attempts to protect the African elephants, the justification of wild captures of
cetaceans for “conservation “ purposes, and the culling of wolves to resolve humananimal conflicts. It is critical that conservation take a more scientifically – informed, and
frankly, progressive, approach to nonhuman intelligence and sensitivities by
acknowledging the data on the complexity of their social networks, families, cultural
traditions, and psychosocial development and, thus, not only preserving numbers of
individuals but the individuals themselves.