Project Ideas. II: Ugly Animals

Having conducted a bit of research into those few ideas I came up with the other day, I’ve found out that there’s a couple of pretty interesting organisations with the focus/a focal point on the less aesthetically pleasing animals and their conservation! It’s a lot harder than one would think, finding an animal conservation charity where you’re not immediately pelted with images of baby tigers and bloody pandas, but after a while I found some!

The Ugly Animals Preservation Society and EDGE !

What a relief to see some reptiles and insects featured instead of just the fluffy ones.

mg21829220.300-1_300I’m especially loving the Ugly Animals Society (pictured; Simon Watt, the president of the UAPS). Their approach to conservation and awareness is definitely different and most definitely eye catching! They’re using comedy and a light hearted approach coupled with the severity of the issue at hand to communicate their campaign in the best way possible. I can really see this organisation being an ideal candidate for a bounce-off focal point for my project, maybe in the form of some advertising? Or a big chunky booklet or two? Not only is it an interesting charity with a unique approach, proving me with an extra unique opportunity, but its also something I’m exceptionally interested in myself, giving me the drive to actually do the work.

EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct & Globally Endangered) has recently started to follow in the footsteps of UAPS in the way of putting more and more focus on the less fluffy of the animal world. As they say in their ‘about’ page:

“While efforts to conserve large charismatic animals such as elephants and rhinos are well-known, many other threatened species are sliding towards extinction unnoticed. Few people have ever heard of a bumblebee bat or the Chinese giant salamander.”

I find their use of the word ‘charismatic’ particularly interesting. It is true that large mammals or cuter mammals seem to communicate more of a personality, more emotion to humans than say, for example, a snake or an ant. Despite this seeming true, with the more common traits we find in the physical features of more mammals and our ability to read emotion and personality sprouting very much from the aesthetics of one’s features, other animal groups like reptiles, amphibians and, more notably, birds, display personalities and emotions as well, just less obviously.

There’s also the possibility that the human viewer of the animal essentially ‘injects’ the animal with the levels of personality and emotion that they see fit. For example, if somebody were to see a panda in distress, they would be more likely to believe the animal were scared than if they saw a snake in distress. This is based on the appearance of the animal in question, not so much on the actual psychological behaviour of them.

Its these elements of the public’s, and generally human’s, responses to animals that I find interesting and would love to have some part in trying to change. From looking through both EDGE and Ugly Animals Soc. I now know that larger groups of people feel the same way and to such a degree that they launch vast campaigns and studies to back up their claims and ideals.

I’m really looking forward to exploring this idea further! I’ll be looking into other paths to take this project as well and developing some visuals and sketches too, but for now I’m super psyched to get some ideas down for this route!

Also… its the ideal excuse to draw a pangolin…

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