Uglier animals are neglected. I set up the Ugly Animal Preservation Society as a tongue in cheek way of trying to redress the fact that the cute and cuddly species like the panda dominate natural history books and TV shows. By being blinded by beautiful aniamls, we not only miss out on the joys of hearing about some fantastically weird and wonderful creatures, but we might actually be harming our planet. This preference for the charismatic megafauna is not just contained to the telly though.
Though invertebrates make up about 79% of animal life, they are only covered in 11% of conservation literature. Ugly animals are less likely to be researched, never mind protected. This taxonomic bias constrains the capacity to identify conservation risk and to implement effective responses
We use comedy to try and keep all conservation messages relevant and introduce people to the disgusting spirit animal they never knew they had. The panda is already famous so my friends and I seek to shine a little light on other, less known but still at risk creatures. I am pleased to say this approach has worked- the blobfish is famous now, and as we tour we spread the love.
I will not criticise any conservation efforts made by anyone anywhere. When it feels like the whole world is on fire anyone trying to do good of any kind is. BUT our planet is at a crisis point, and we have to focus where we can get the most biology for our buck. To do this we have to be aware of biases we have within the movement. I also do what I do as I can go guerilla and maybe say things other conservationists cannot. The panda already had its champions; velvet worms did not!
I am scared of the risks of clickivism. I can help with education and public engagement with research but little else. We can't save the world with a gig or through education alone. I sometimes partner with excellegroups such as those below, and if you want to support us, please support them.
In 2013 I was invited onto BBC News to debate the merits of panda conservation with presenter Jonathan Sopel, the director of public engagement and campaigns with the WWF, Colin Butfield, and Xi Lin, of the BBC's Chinese service. Colin and I obviously have different views, but by and large both want the same thing for the world. It ended up with both of us mostly agreeing, which makes for some awful television. Anyway, here it is. What do you think?