25. Elephants in the room

tough choices for a maturing discipline

  1. David W. Macdonald3 and
  2. Katherine J. Willis4
  1. David W. Macdonald1 and
  2. Katherine J. Willis2

Published Online: 25 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118520178.ch25

Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2

Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2

How to Cite

Macdonald, D. W. and Willis, K. J. (2013) Elephants in the room, in Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2 (eds D. W. Macdonald and K. J. Willis), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118520178.ch25

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney House, University of Oxford, UK

  2. 4

    Biodiversity Institute, Oxford Martin School, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK

Author Information

  1. 1

    Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, Recanati-Kaplan Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

  2. 2

    Biodiversity Institute, Oxford Martin School, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 15 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470658765

Online ISBN: 9781118520178

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Keywords:

  • biological diversity;
  • conservation biology;
  • wildlife conservation

Summary

Wildlife conservation, and the preservation and restoration of biological diversity from genes through to whole landscapes, should be an evidence-based activity. It is built on an interdisciplinary foundation for which natural science is necessary but not sufficient, and which leads from principles to practice along a route involving natural and social science, evaluation, judgement and politics. These linkages, and the blurred boundary between the scientific and political consequences of conservation decisions, mean that most conservation issues are permeated by profound trade-offs, perplexing dilemmas and sometimes unmentioned truths: metaphorical elephants in the room. Throughout this chapter, the authors have penned Thought Elephants in boxes. The purpose is to reveal some difficult issues that often remain unspoken and invisible when key topics in conservation biology are discussed – the 'elephants in the room' which increasingly face conservation practitioners. These Thought Elephants are phrased as questions and presented as food for thought.