Going into Business for Wildlife Conservation
Stanford Social Innovation Review | April 13, 2016
The following excerpt has been republished with kind permission from Stanford Social Innovation Review. It was written by Gautam Shah.
According to World Wildlife Fund, the rapid loss of wildlife species today is estimated to be up to 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. We are watching them disappear on a daily basis. It is astounding.
The implementation of national parks, beginning in the early 1900s, the birth of large organizations dedicated to wildlife conservation beginning in the 1950s, and worldwide recognition of classified endangered species beginning in the 1970s were major milestones in the effort to protect our wild spaces and species. In the 40 years since, however, there have been few breakthroughs in conservation that have truly turned the tide. Deforestation, overfishing, climate change, habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and poaching are all accelerating. Conservation organizations so far have been successful only at slowing this destruction, and doing so is an endless daily battle.
This is complicated by the fact that conservation programs require high levels of financing, and without alternative business models to generate revenue, we are stuck in an unfortunate loop that goes like this:
Run fundraising schemes that raise "awareness." Include shocking photographs of stranded polar bears, emaciated orangutans, or mutilated rhinoceroses; add "before it's too late" and "fight [insert bad thing like poaching here]"; and name your campaign "Save the [insert doomed animal here]." Compete with other organizations for the gloomiest message, generate the most pity, and prick people's conscience to open their pocket book and donate.
Flood the media with these messages.
Guard work, research, and programs zealously, given the massive effort necessary to raise money for them.
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