What Is A Flagship Species?
The planet is currently inhabited by numerous varieties of species who are either threatened by extinction or are already extinct altogether. These species make up a biodiversity system where different microorganisms, plants, and animals co-exist as one in their various ecosystems be it terrestrial, freshwater or marine. Climate change, habitat degradation, and the lack of sustainable resources has brought about the need for biodiversity conservation through the use of flagship species. Flagship species are threatened species ranging from plants, vertebrates to invertebrates which are used by conservation organizations or projects as their ambassadors to draw attention to their circumstance and help drive conservation efforts to generate support and improve their status. At some level, these threatened specie end up representing other endangered species existing in their ecosystem. Examples of some flagship species include the Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris), Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus), African Elephant (Loxodonta sp) and the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) which is used by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Categories Of Flagship Species
Flagship species could fall into any of the three categories including international, cultural or ecological flagship species. International flagship occurs when the species is recognized worldwide, such as the giant panda. The cultural flagship species represent a particular culture such as the Bornean Ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri) particular to the Dayak tribe and used for night rituals and medicinal purposes. The ecological flagship represents species such as the Malagasy Baobab found in Madagascar, representing its unique diversity.
Benefits Of Flagship Species
Flagship species such as elephants and pandas help in generating revenue through attendance and visits to the institutions where they are kept. This added revenue enables the proper mechanisms to be put in place for protection and sustainability of the species, which in turn is intended to trickle down to encourage the improvement of the other species coexisting with them. It is the belief that conserving the biodiversity is achievable through educating the mass on how to protect the endangered species, as this knowledge can be passed down to generations ensuring a continuation of biological diversity conservation. Flagship species often tend to be aesthetically attractive in order to capture the attention of the public. Through the use of the species conservation, projects can focus on bringing the plight affecting these species to the attention of the public, as well as come up with strategies that they can implement to improve their condition and ultimately improve the public attitude towards biodiversity conservation.
Importance Of Flagship Species
Flagship species have enabled the conservation movement to capture the attention of the public and raise awareness on the need for biodiversity conservation and ensure a healthy and balanced ecosystem for generations to come by thriving on developing and maintaining a cultural, recreational and spiritual perspective.