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Fantastic beasts and why to conserve them: animals, magic and biodiversity conservation

Holmes, George, Smith, Thomas Aneurin ORCID: and Ward, Caroline 2017. Fantastic beasts and why to conserve them: animals, magic and biodiversity conservation. Oryx 52 (2) , pp. 231-239. 10.1017/S003060531700059X

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There is a broad set of human beliefs, attitudes and behaviours around the issue of magical animals, referring to both mythical animals not recognised by science and extant animals which are recognised by science but have magical properties which are not. This is a broad issue ranging from spiritual beliefs around mythical animals living in Malagasy forests, to cultural heritage associated with the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. Beliefs and behaviours around magical animals can have positive and negative impacts on biodiversity conservation goals. Yet so far, the discipline of conservation biology has not adequately considered magical animals, neglecting to account for the broader knowledge from outside the natural sciences on this issue, and taking a narrow, utilitarian approach to how magical animals should be managed, without necessarily considering the broader impacts on conservation goals or ethics. Here we explore how magical animals can impact on conservation goals, how conservation biology and practice has thought about magical animals, and some of the limitations of current approaches, particularly the failure to consider magical animals as part of wider systems of belief and culture. We argue that conservation needs to seriously consider magical animals and their implications for conservation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Uncontrolled Keywords: conservation, ethics, Madagascar, magic, spirituality, snakes, Tanzania
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP) / Wiley: No OnlineOpen
ISSN: 0030-6053
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 May 2017
Date of Acceptance: 30 April 2017
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2023 17:18

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