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Zoology under threat: a distressing case of science under siege

Lunney, D., Banks, P. and Dickman, C. (2012) Zoology under threat: a distressing case of science under siege. In: Banks, P., Dickman, C. and Lunney, D., (eds.) Science under siege : zoology under threat. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW, Australia, pp. 173-185.

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The most striking feature that links all the contributions to the theme of Science under siege: zoology under threat, is the rejection of the notion that science is optional in our society, i.e. that science can be ignored, even derided. In the main, these anti-science worldviews derive from religious groups that are hostile to science, a political or commercial stance that sees short-term gains in rejecting or undermining science, or a non-zoological understanding of animals that arrives at a philosophical position opposed to the study and management of wild animals. The extreme ‘animal rights’ position is also inimical to conservation of our native fauna, although an ethical approach to animals and the environment is a critical component to their long-term management and we both encourage, and participate in, this debate. Brian Martin, in his engaging paper on Breaking the siege: guidelines for struggle in science, observed that when scientists come under attack, it is predictable that the attackers will use methods to minimise public outrage over the attack, including covering up the action, devaluing the target, reinterpreting what is happening, using official processes to give an appearance of justice, and intimidating people involved. Zoology is under attack, so are working zoologists, and the distressing consequence for our fauna will be its continuing decline. With increasing rates of extinction that reflect threats, such as invasive species and climate change compounding the impact of simplified landscapes, Australia is being progressively robbed of its rich zoological legacy.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
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