• Open Access

Identifying Cinderella species: uncovering mammals with conservation flagship appeal


  • Editor
    Javier Simonetti

Robert Smith, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, Marlowe Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NR, UK. Tel: +44 1227 823667; fax: +44 1227 827289. E-mail: r.j.smith@kent.ac.uk


International conservation NGOs rely on flagship species campaigns for fundraising but this approach has been criticized for benefiting a limited number of species. However, this criticism assumes these campaigns do not fundraise for broader issues and that alternative species with similar appeal to the target audience exist. We investigated this by: (1) recording the use of threatened mammal species in international NGO flagship campaigns, and; (2) using these data to identify “Cinderella species,” which we define as aesthetically appealing but currently overlooked species. We found these NGOs only used 80 flagship species and that 61% of their campaigns only raised funds for the species itself. We also found these existing flagships are generally large and have forward-facing eyes and that there are 183 other threatened species with similar traits. Thus, the current approach is overly limited but NGOs could overcome this by adopting some of these Cinderella species as new flagships.