What animal do you think should represent the conservation of fauna

I genuinely believe the animals that should represent such an idea should be the vultures of Africa. There are several reasons, primarily that they are in a dire need of conservation efforts which they lack for the most part, as well as the fact they are facing very serious crashes in populations. Currently, all scavenger vultures widespread in Africa are threatened, including the most common species which is the white-backed vulture
Secondly, they fulfil a very important role in their environment which is to destroy carcasses and disease, which their resilient bodies easily process. A while back, the vulture population in India suffered a catastrophic drop of over 99% due to the accidental side-effects of a veterinary drug, and the results saw a sharp increase in rabies and other major diseases
Combined with the negative reputation they have as they are considered “dirty” (vultures are hygienic despite their perception by most people) and have been used to represent negative social problems (for example, corporate vultures) and this means that they are not prioritised over more “likeable” animals, despite the essential role they play in their ecological niche


I don’t think any specific animal should represent conservation of fauna as a whole.

This exact thing is something that comes up for me every 2 years. The International Primate Society has a biennial conference and associated publication called Primates in Peril: The world’s 25 most endangered primates. This title is a bit misleading as it’s actually a specific subset of the most imperiled primates, and the set is chosen in a way to draw attention to and represent various primate bearing parts of the world.

There is always vociferous debate and disagreement over which species should be included, which areas should get the most representation, why one species and not another should be included, etc, etc, etc.

I think it’s better to be as inclusive as possible. Often picking on species to represent many winds up with the many being ignored in favor of the one represented.


Pick the least interesting organism that we have reason to believe needs conservation attention. It’s not an animal. Directing our attention against our intuitive biases is part of the process.

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Vultures are cool, but they’re “obvious cool”. The question in conservation isn’t “What obviously awesome organisms deserve more of our attention?” but “What organisms should we be paying attention to, but aren’t?”

If we know an organism is cool—if you can create an argument in favor of that organism—it doesn’t qualify. Period.

What organisms have no argument in their favor? That’s where our attention should be. If you can create the argument, you lose. :-)


Given how successful giant panda conservation has been, it might be hard to convince people to care about vultures given their not-yet-adorable reputation.

Maybe the next best option is to pick an adjacent species that is more easily relatable and whose conservation overlaps with and benfits the vulture? Alternatively… make it adorable by turning it into a plush toy.

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Why would you need it though? I’d pick Russian desman, Amur tiger, Amur leopard, something I would care about vs. vultures living somewhere half-Earth from me. But I don’t see why we need a single species representing conservation, I remember the WWF Panda from early childhood, they had something like an office on my way to a dance school, pandas worked then and still work now.

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Good logic! Not sure i can make a case for pangolin.


Throwing shade on vultures is so juvenile and ignorant.

The Tropical Turkey Vulture is so beautiful to me, most folks don’t even notice the stark contrast between them and the typical Turkey Vulture.

Losing raptors at that rate is terrifying.

Things like deer carcasses can weigh well over 50kg, without vultures, that’s a tremendous amount of disease-ridden “coyote bait.”

Even in North America, I couldn’t fathom (what sound like) colony wide losses of vultures as what you described.


Well, it depends.

Do you want to attract support and funding from people who aren’t really naturalists? Then go for what are called the charismatic megafauna - beautiful birds and big, showy mammals.

Are you looking for what is sometimes called a keystone species, a species that allegedly holds an entire ecosystem together? Then you want something like the American Beaver.

Maybe a species that represents the need to connect conserved areas via corridors? Well, what kind of corridors? Are we talking riverine species here, or the usual terrestrial species of your usual matrix landscape? I hear people worrying about how roads kill so many mammals (definitely true!), but I bet a modern four-lane highway with a mown median strip is a big barrier to plants whose seeds are dispersed only by ants (but maybe not?).

Most non-human species need conservation (I’m excluding those that are well-adapted to anthropogenic habitats).


It should be something whose conservation DOES hurt economic interests, is really complex, and if successful would demonstrate that, overall, it might be working. Therefore, something big, scarce in numbers, and at the top of food chains.


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Urban caracal project tells us that protecting the caracal (from rat poison for example) also protects other predators like owls.


Stock farmers, or poachers, put out poisoned carcasses and wipe out masses of vultures. Poachers because vultures betray their activity.


I understand your question but I would be happy if people would be enough wise to understand that habitats, rather than single species, should deserve protection. Thus, a healthy, vast habitat could allow species living inside to persist.
Choosing a single, iconic species, in my opinion, is somehow something like marketing. Ok, if it works it is welcome, but it is just one aspect, not the final goal.


It feels like there are already some poster children for conservation, which are mostly well-known animals that are easily recognized by a wide variety of people. If that doesn’t help much for the cause, at least in terms of having big improvements be made, it’s hard to think of what would. I think limiting it to one animal might hurt the reach, if anything.

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One reason focusing on a particular species can be helpful is that it tends to create more quantitative & objective measures of success. If you can count the population size of Charismatic species, that’s pretty clear-cut. If you try to maximize overall biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, that can leave a lot of wiggle room for people to try to explain away negative impacts.

That aside, I agree with you entirely.


a dodo bird


Trying to decide between brown bar-ba-loot, swomi-swan, or humming-fish. But then, no, because those just represent the truffula forest ecosystem, not fauna as a whole.

That’s the difficulty with this question, isn’t it? If we want to represent conservation of all fauna across all ecosystems, there probably isn’t just one. The polar bear as a symbol of climate change certainly draws attention to the melting of sea ice and permafrost; but of course climate change also means drought, sea level rise, or hurricanes in other ecosystems.


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