Survival of the Cutest: Aesthetic Appreciation and Wildlife Conservation

Survival of the Cutest

Charles Darwin once suggested that ‘survival of the fittest’ was the basis for organic evolution. But when it comes to animal conservation ‘survival of the cutest’ might be a more apt adage.

Why do we spend more money on Pandas than on Rhinos?

CEI-IUL researcher Joana Roque de Pinho has been studying the influence of aesthetic appreciation of wildlife species on attitudes towards their conservation. In her research Joana has been focusing on understanding this phenomenon in developing countries. In a study developed in Kenyan Agropastoralist Communities along with other colleagues, Joana has been able to confirm the premisse that more attractive and younger-looking animals (such as giraffe, gazelles, and eland) are targeted for increased support in their protection and conservation vis-à-vis less attractive animals (such as buffalo, hyena, and elephant).

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Joana Roque de Pinho

Researcher at CEI-IUL. Ph.D. in Ecology - Human-Environment Interactions specialisation (Colorado State University) on cultural models of evolving wildlife-human relationships and non-economic values of wildlife in a pastoralist society in transition in Kenya Maasailand, and implications for conservation.

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