To preserve, or not to preserve, that is the question: urban and rural student attitudes towards wild vertebrates

  • José Valberto de Oliveira
  • Sérgio de Faria Lopes
  • Raynner Rilke Duarte Barboza
  • Rômulo Romeu da Nóbrega Alves


Historically, human interactions with other animals have been marked by an attitudinal affinity–aversion polarization, depending on the animal involved and its local utilitarian value, as well as whether it is related to conflict situations or not. In this sense, the present study aimed to analyse the attitudes (affinity–aversion) of urban and rural students in relation to wild vertebrates and the factors that influence them. Data were obtained from three public schools, one urban and two rural, in the city of Campina Grande, Paraíba, Brazil. Questionnaires were given to 990 students (528 urban and 462 rural), distributed among all levels of basic education (students 6–17 years of age). We used the technique of “content analysis” to categorize the descriptive data and tests of significance and correlation for statistical analyses. No differences were observed in attitudes of affinity (preservation) and/or aversion (elimination) about vertebrates between urban and rural students. However, there was variation in preferences regarding animals as a function of these contexts. There was a common tendency between genders for aversion for snakes, followed by amphibians, mammals, turtles and birds, with slight differences in the specificities of the animals considered. Significant positive correlations (p < 0.05) between affinity (preservation) and curricular development, age and family income were observed. Attitudinal antagonism (affinity–aversion), expressed by the variation in preferences for certain animals and repulsion by others, has consequential implications for the conservation of wild fauna, thus demonstrating the relevance of incorporating this reality into the context of educational strategies.


Ethnozoology Formal education Wild fauna Affinity–aversion 



The authors would like to give a special thanks to all interviewers, who kindly shared their knowledge with us and all school directors that allowed the carrying out of this research.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Estadual da ParaíbaCampina GrandeBrazil

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