Great news from China: the giant panda is no longer on the endangered species list. It has been upgraded (or downgraded, depending on your point of view), from “Endangered” to simply “Vulnerable,” the result of nation’s intensive efforts to save the animal from extinction.
And why shouldn’t they have invested the time to save them? The panda is China’s national animal, after all.
But panda are also…
Do cute endangered animals get preferential treatment when it comes to preservation efforts?
I’m not trying to say that consciously, preservationists pick the cuter animals to focus on—though I would imagine that when it comes to fund-raising efforts, the more “meme-worthy” creatures are showcased. I mean, heck, the panda is the World Wildlife Federation logo!
But with so many endangered species—and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “Red List” boasts 82,954 animals and plants who are in trouble—the public’s attention can only be stretched so far.
Almost lost amongst the news of the giant panda’s so-called “rescue” is that the eastern gorilla has just been added to the endangered list, its numbers reduced by over 70% in just two decades.
Gorillas are also cute, but—the late Harambe aside—they just don’t get the mad press pandas get.
And then if we move from gorillas to massive non-fuzzy megafauna like rhinos, elephants, and so on…
Should places like the IUCN and the WWF turn to photo and video memes to boost funding and awareness?
Lastly, while the giant panda’s numbers have increased due to conservation efforts, their habitat and main food supply are still in danger of being eliminated due to climate change.
My prediction? I think many/most of these species are going to be de facto extinct “in the wild” within the next 50 years regardless. Sounds really negative, I know—but that’s just what I think.
HOWEVER, I also believe artificial animal populations will be created and maintained using technology and genetic engineering. And that while there might be a very subtle, subconscious “focus” on the cuter animals, once scientists can perfect cloning techniques they are going to be gung-ho about re-creating EVERY SPECIES—whether extinct 20 or 2,000,000 years.