Library:Flagship individuals in biodiversity conservation

From WikiAnimal

Flagship individuals in biodiversity conservation

Flagship individuals in biodiversity conservation is a paper by by Jarić et al published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The paper provides several case studies of flagship individuals and their impacts, such as Smokey Bear, Tilikum the orca, 480 Otis the bear, Grecia the toucan, Sudan the rhinoceros, and Diego the tortoise. The paper also discusses the drivers, characteristics, selection criteria, guidelines, caveats, and recommendations for using flagship individuals in conservation practice.


Flagship individuals are organisms whose individual traits, species characteristics, exposure to humans, and/or fates serve to engage and motivate people and garner support for broader conservation goals. They are a type of flagship species, which are species used as foci of conservation marketing campaigns based on their appeal to the target audience. Flagship individuals typically share some combination of the following four characteristics:

  1. traits associated with species charisma;
  2. unique or distinguishing individual traits;
  3. high levels of exposure to humans;
  4. known, noteworthy life histories, sets of circumstances, or fates.

Flagship individuals can generate empathy and emotional responses from people through processes of personification and anthropomorphism, which help people to better relate to an individual organism and reduce perceptions of distance between humans and nonhumans. They can also be used for storytelling, which is an effective technique for conservation communication and outreach. Flagship individuals can be brought to prominence by sudden or dramatic events, such as the killing of Cecil the lion by a trophy hunter, or by gradual and continuous interactions with people, such as Lua the manatee who became a symbol of a reintroduction program. They can also be selected and promoted by conservation-oriented individuals or organizations based on the target audience and intended goal of the campaign.


Flagship individuals can have positive impacts on biodiversity conservation by raising public awareness, education, fundraising, and policy-making outcomes. They can also generate focusing events and catalyze conservation movements. However, they also face some challenges and risks, such as their fleeting nature, their improper use through misleading or sensationalized information, their potential conflict with animal welfare or local perspectives, and their unintended negative consequences for the species or the individual. Therefore, the concept of the flagship individual requires further research and careful implementation to maximize its effectiveness and minimize its drawbacks.

See also

External links