This paper argues for a more compassionate conservation by positioning animals as subjects in research and scholarship. Compassionate conservation is a multidisciplinary field of study that broadly attends to the ethical dimensions of conservation by merging conservation biology and animal welfare science. However, animal geography is rarely discussed in the compassionate conservation scholarship despite sharing similar tenets. This paper argues that responsible anthropomorphism and animal geography concepts of animal subjectivity (lived experiences) and agency (capacity to act) positions African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) as subjects in conservation research and scholarship. It merges biological research, public communication, and interview and participant observation data to present wild dogs as thinking, feeling, self-conscious animals with agency, and whose welfare is negatively affected in human-dominated landscapes in Botswana. This paper argues for more attention to be paid to animal subjectivity and agency to foster more compassionate relations with wildlife. It argues that positioning animals as subjects in research and scholarship is an ethical starting point for moving compassionate conservation forward. This ‘enriched’ scholarly approach moves us closer to appreciating the lives of wildlife and the complexity of their circumstances and experiences.
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