What are Charismatic Megafauna I hear you say? Well, they are some of the most recognisable animals on the planet – the African lion, the Bengal tiger, the Giant Panda, elephants, rhino, the Bald Eagle; just to name a few. As a concept they are used by conservationists, zoos, animal rights activists and the like to engage with the general public. Charismatic Megafauna (also known as Flagship species or just charismatic fauna if they are smaller in stature) are those non-human animals who have become representative of ecosystems, countries, continents and organisations. It is their recognisability, often combined with scarcity, that makes them so valuable.
I know what you’re thinking…well actually I don’t. Why? Well one, I’m not psychic but two, because the answer to the question of whether or not we should count ourselves as animals isn’t as straight-forward as it may seem.
For many people how we view ourselves as human and where we fit in this world is very complicated, based on anything from religious teaching to school biology. I know, I know, many of you might be thinking to yourselves, what is this girl on? How are humans not animals? Or maybe some of you are thinking, what the heck, we are so different from cats/dogs/snakes, how can she even attempt to lump us in the same group as them?
Well read on my friends, read on, and maybe you will see what I mean about why this issue can be complicated…
….and your life and everyone’s lives…
Companion Animals aka Pets
When we think of animals most of us will automatically think about the dog, cat, hamster or fish that we currently live with. Maybe they sleep in our bed, share our food or take up valuable space on the settee. According to the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association over 40% of homes here in the UK have pets. In the United States, more people live with pets than children (62% of the population – Demello, 2012, 190). And it’s not just the number of households that have pets which is astonishing – the 11 million homes with pets in the UK equate to over 57 million animals (Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association) although I’m not going to lie, a vast majority of those are fish. But doesn’t it say something that even animals we can’t cuddle everyday or don’t necessarily think of as “cute” are given the arguable elevated status of being considered a pet.