Bat Country: Communicating Conservation for New Zealand Bats
Bats, the world’s only flying mammals, are essential for native biodiversity and natural processes like pollination, but are portrayed negatively by the majority of mainstream media and pop culture, causing them to be disliked or undervalued in public conservation concern. The theory for this research into New Zealand’s two endemic, but endangered, bat species and their conservation argues that bats are highly misunderstood creatures, and are widely unrecognized in New Zealand by the public. The lack of recognition that bats receive worldwide, and the shortfall of knowledge from the public sphere about their endangerment have both negatively affected many species of bat, including New Zealand’s two species. Negative stigmas surrounding bats may pose difficulty for advocacy for the species, and bats are arguably difficult mammals to save, but New Zealand has begun the process of protecting the animals, by enacting programmes to increase knowledge and recognition of the species within the public sphere. There are five major developments in the country that have promoted action for bat conservation, and they are each assessed by this thesis. The importance of bats to the native ecosystem must be taught to the public in many different systems throughout the country in order to counteract any negative perceptions or absence of knowledge held about bats; this research argues that this can be done through a process called science communication. This thesis will harness the value of science communication as a new and creative field by analysing the effects of storytelling as a system to communicate conservation for endangered bats in New Zealand, exploring how storytelling could become a method for improvement in these sectors. The research also evaluates the role of animal preference, exploring how bats may be engaged in a conservation competition with other species that currently receive more attention from the media within New Zealand. A major goal for this research will be to encourage actions of improvements for New Zealand bat conservation, ultimately growing bat advocacy in New Zealand.
Advisor: Bishop, Phil
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: The Centre for Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: thesis; submissions; science; master's
Research Type: Thesis