Public interest in the extinction of a species may lead to an increase in donations to a large conservation charity


The extinction of a species is an event that often captures the public’s imagination. Indeed, declaring a species as extinct is typically though of as a way of raising awareness of the impacts humanity is having on the global biosphere. However, thus far there is little evidence to suggest whether declaring a species as extinct leads to increased public concern, and whether this concern may in turn lead to support to slow future biodiversity loss. To assess this, I look to see whether there is any increase in the number of donations made to a large conservation charity after five recent, well-publicised extinction events that have generated public interest. I find that peaks in public interest in a species that has been reported as extinct may correspond to an increase in the number of donations made, but that other conservation related events may also affect month–month variation in the number of pledges made.

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I am indebted to the WWF for providing the data analysed here. This research was funded by a Natural Environment Research Council CASE studentship grant (NE/H018700/1) in partnership with the Zoological Society of London. Aaron Thierry provided valuable advice on several versions of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Christopher F. Clements.

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Clements, C.F. Public interest in the extinction of a species may lead to an increase in donations to a large conservation charity. Biodivers Conserv 22, 2695–2699 (2013).

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  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation funding
  • Donations
  • Pledges
  • Public funding
  • WWF