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Can big screen animation save biodiversity?

Below is a short review of an opinion article appeared that in the scientific journal – Tropical Conservation Science authored by Yong, Fam and Lum (see link below).

They were looking at the effects feature animations like Madagascar, Happy Feet and Finding Nemo could have on conservation efforts; and should NGOs be doing more to establish partnerships with animation studios?

NGOs have acknowledged the importance of social marketing in generating awareness across mass markets. They know these films shed light on issues concerning habitat, species and they can form the starting point of biodiversity and conservation knowledge.

The authours do list a number of criticisms of the films,  arising from the simplistic portrayal of conservation issues, including inaccurate and sensationalized depictions of reality and the negative influence of wildlife trade (eg Jurassic Park lead to a spike in people keeping iguanas).


There was an increase in demand for clownfish in the pet fish trade after Finding Nemo


the owl trade in India was linked to Harry Potter movies

While acknowledging these criticisms the authours do believe that these films could have better outcomes for conservation if they were  complimented with good educational and outreach materials. These outreach tools that would need to be created to reach the masses still remain relatively untapped.

So while these popular programs will not solve biodiversity problems, if they are created alongside carefully developed outreach programs they can go a long way to communicating much needed awareness and knowledge of biodiversity science to large audiences.

Click to access 11-09-25_244-253_Yong_et_al.pdf

At Habitat the Game we are developing a range of outreach materials for teachers, players and parents.