Deconstructing compassionate conservation

Matt W. Hayward, Alex Callen, Benjamin L. Allen, Guy Ballard, Femke Broekhuis, Cassandra Bugir, Rohan H. Clarke, John Clulow, Simon Clulow, Jennifer C. Daltry, Harriet T. Davies-Mostert, Peter J.S. Fleming, Andrea S. Griffin, Lachlan G. Howell, Graham I.H. Kerley, Kaya Klop-Toker, Sarah Legge, Tom Major, Ninon Meyer, Robert A. MontgomeryKatherine Moseby, Daniel M. Parker, Stéphanie Périquet, John Read, Robert J. Scanlon, Rebecca Seeto, Craig Shuttleworth, Michael J. Somers, Cottrell T. Tamessar, Katherine Tuft, Rose Upton, Marcia Valenzuela-Molina, Adrian Wayne, Ryan R. Witt, Wolfgang Wüster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Compassionate conservation focuses on 4 tenets: first, do no harm; individuals matter; inclusivity of individual animals; and peaceful coexistence between humans and animals. Recently, compassionate conservation has been promoted as an alternative to conventional conservation philosophy. We believe examples presented by compassionate conservationists are deliberately or arbitrarily chosen to focus on mammals; inherently not compassionate; and offer ineffective conservation solutions. Compassionate conservation arbitrarily focuses on charismatic species, notably large predators and megaherbivores. The philosophy is not compassionate when it leaves invasive predators in the environment to cause harm to vastly more individuals of native species or uses the fear of harm by apex predators to terrorize mesopredators. Hindering the control of exotic species (megafauna, predators) in situ will not improve the conservation condition of the majority of biodiversity. The positions taken by so-called compassionate conservationists on particular species and on conservation actions could be extended to hinder other forms of conservation, including translocations, conservation fencing, and fertility control. Animal welfare is incredibly important to conservation, but ironically compassionate conservation does not offer the best welfare outcomes to animals and is often ineffective in achieving conservation goals. Consequently, compassionate conservation may threaten public and governmental support for conservation because of the limited understanding of conservation problems by the general public.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-768
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Deconstructing compassionate conservation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this