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Countering Brutality to Wildlife, Relationism and Ethics: Conservation, Welfare and the 'Ecoversity'

By Steve Garlick, Julie Matthews, Jennifer Carter

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Wildlife objectification and cruelty are everyday aspects of Australian society that eschew values of human kindness, empathy, and an understanding of the uniqueness and importance of non-human life in the natural world. Fostered by institutional failure, greed and selfishness, and the worst aspects of human disregard, the objectification of animals has its roots in longstanding Western anthropocentric philosophical perspectives, post colonialism, and a global uptake of neoliberal capitalism. Conservation, animal rights and welfare movements have been unable to stem the ever-growing abuse of wildlife, while 'greenwash' language such as 'resource use', 'management', 'pests', 'over-abundance', 'conservation hunting' and 'ecology' coat this violence with a respectable public veneer. We propose an engaged learning approach to address the burgeoning culture of wildlife cruelty and objectification that comprises three elements: a relational ethic based on intrinsic understanding of the way wildlife and humans might view each other [1-3]; geography of place and space [4], where there are implications for how we ascribe contextual meaning and practice in human-animal relations; and, following [5], engaged learning designed around our ethical relations with others, beyond the biophysical and novel and towards the reflective metaphysical. We propose the 'ecoversity' [6], as a scholarly and practical tool for focusing on the intersection of these three elements as an ethical place-based learning approach to wildlife relationism. We believe it provides a mechanism to help bridge the gap between human and non-human animals, conservation and welfare, science and understanding, and between objectification and relationism as a means of addressing entrenched cruelty to wildlife.


Megan Kendall

Purdue University

Date 2011
Publication Title Animals
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 161-175
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
Publisher MDPI AG (Basel, Switzerland)
DOI 10.3390/ani1010161
Language English
Notes This article was found at MDPI, Open Access Publishing:
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals in culture
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Ecology
  4. Environmental research
  5. Ethics
  6. Physical environment
  7. Social Environments
  8. wildlife
  9. Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation