Chapter 7: Support for conserving the likeable koala versus a critically endangered species of wombat
Available evidence indicates that charismatic (likeable) wildlife species usually obtain more public funding for their conservation than less charismatic ones (Metrick and Weitzman, 1996, 1998; Naidoo and Adamowicz, 2001). Nonetheless, it is still unclear how closely the actual public funding of conservation of different species reflects the public’s comparative support for their conservation. Possibly, actual public support for the conservation of individual wildlife species does not closely reflect public demand because pure public goods or mixed goods1 are involved, and complex non-market mechanisms, such as political mechanisms, determine actual allocations. There may be ‘excessive’ public allocation of funds for conservation of charismatic species compared to what the public actually demands. The purpose of this chapter is to explore this possibility, taking the charismatic koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) and the critically endangered northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) as comparative cases. The public’s stated willingness to donate funds to support the conservation of wildlife species appears to depend mainly on the extent of the public’s knowledge of the species, on their likeability and the perceived degree to which they are endangered (Samples et al., 1986; Tkac, 1998; Tisdell et al., 2007; see also Chapter 12 in this book). The likeability of a species may depend on factors such as its charismatic nature, size, whether it is human-like and so on (Metrick and Weitzman, 1996).
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