Protecting ‘uncharismatic’ species

A black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), an example of a species in need of conservation that doesn’t receive enough funding. Black-footed Ferret by J. N. Stuart. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I recently read an article on The Washington Post about a bill in the United States legislature that would protect ‘uncharismatic’ species.

One of the issues with conservation is that oftentimes, the species that people like the best receive the most funding and attention. These animals are frequently referred to as “charismatic.”

Charismatic species aren’t necessarily bad. For example, some of the most charismatic animals are large predators like wolves, who often play crucial roles in their ecosystems. As such, protecting these species can have far-reaching benefits.

However, some uncharismatic species are also important, but they don’t get prioritized because they’re not pretty. The bill in the Washington Post article – The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act – would seek to change that.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would set aside funding for uncharismatic, but still vital, wildlife species. The original article then describes seven species that might fit the bill.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would be an important step forward. I love charismatic species as much as anyone, and even named this blog after one. Despite this, one of the major goals for conservation needs to be maintaining ecosystem resilience. This would require protecting all of an ecosystem’s key players, and not just the ones that get all the press.

Be sure to read the original article on The Washington Post for more information!

9 Thoughts

    1. It certainly is an important bill!

      About the ferret pic, I actually tried to find photos of less charismatic species first. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many high-quality images with the right usage licenses, which is why I went with the ferret pic in the end. I’m guessing that’s because some of these uncharismatic species aren’t as photogenic as, say, pandas.


  1. I hope the bill helps. But I´m toying with the question, if so many charismatic species are endangered species to the point that these species need to be protected, is it not better for the Unchatismatic to do not draw attention (in form of bills, media campaigns, or whatever to keep them alive? Probably it´s a stupid question :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chape! That’s not a stupid question at all. In fact, it’s an important one to raise.

      In a world of limited funding, I feel like the answer has to come down to how to get the biggest bang for your buck. If there’s a charismatic species that’s endangered, and that species plays a big role in its ecosystems (like jaguars), then it makes sense to focus on that species.

      However, sometimes charismatic species will receive most of the funding even though they’re doing better than other, less charismatic species. As I understand it, this bill is designed for those situations: to make sure that uncharismatic species don’t get passed up, even when they’re just as important and threatened as the charismatic ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I see the point of the bill now. And I couldn’t agree more! Thanks Josh!

        We don’t many charismatic species here, and the efforts to help endangered ones are pretty lame. There is something going on to save the Pirenaic bear (a joint initiative with the French), but nothing else I’m aware of. So, you can imagine how we treat uncharismatic species 🤦‍♂️

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re welcome!

          I’d love to see more/better conservation initiatives throughout Europe. It could be a very biodiverse continent due to all the different habitat types, so I’m excited to see what happens with the “rewilding” projects in Europe.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I was recently chided on a public forum for pointing out that copperheads (fairly plentiful here in NC) not only perform a vital role in nature, but are not a big threat. Only 5 people die from snake bites every year in the US. But the shrill chorus didn’t care; they want all venomous snakes killed. If we eliminated all potential threats, it would be a safe, sheltered, and sterile world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As a general rule, we humans aren’t good at tolerating anything (animals or other people) that we can’t dominate. When it comes to snakes, though, many people have a knee-jerk reaction that might be evolutionary.

      We do need snakes though, even the venomous ones! Obviously safety is important, but so is protecting native species. I imagine that copperheads also help the control rodent populations? This could be important when it comes to preventing the spread of diseases.


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