How many native animals in your country can you name? What about narrowing it down to mammals, human’s closest ‘relatives’?
It was during my wildlife management unit in UWA that I learned more about the various species of marsupial mammals that exist in Australia!! Before this the only marsupials in Australia that I knew of were the kangaroo, wallaby, koala, wombat, possum and Tasmanian Devil.
Since 2011 I found out that there are other marsupials like quokka, bettong, phascogale, bilby, quoll, dibbler, bandicoot and numbat to name a few. Some of them are very rare, unique and endangered.
So I asked some kids here if they could name me a few native animals and they seemed to know the same ones I knew before… and I’m not Australian!! It made me realise one thing… we usually only know what we are exposed to, unless we have an interest and go searching. And that is apparent for environmental issues such as wildlife conservation. Much of these are known to us because it was presented in the media, not because we were searching. Sometimes the news we get on these issues are biased, sensationalised and highly politicised. The correct knowledge of native flora and fauna species in unique habitats and those that are endangered will help us understand how our individual and collective actions affect our environment and how we should rectify our past mistakes.
Wildlife conservation causes seems to be centered around creatures that are cuddly cute when young and majestic or strong when mature. Popular nature shows focus on dangerous animals and adrenalin pumping encounters. Movies are made of such characters, often depicting them in ways that they do not naturally exist. My view of the Tasmanian Devil completely changed when I saw them live! My earlier perception of them was based on Taz from Looney Tunes!
Sure there are excellent popular media coverage for wildlife conservation too! Besides Animal Planet and National Geographic, one movie worthy of mention is Happy Feet, which provided a brilliant insight into issues on climate change, endangered species, human greed and its multiple effects on the environment. That was one movie that grabbed at my heartstrings, being passionate for wildlife conservation.
Now it gets me wondering… How did you find out about the wildlife species and conservation issues you know? What are the effective ways we can use the media for wildlife conservation?