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Animal welfare activists and filmmakers should work together more often, British researchers say. Movies can inform the public about the need to protect endangered animals. But the message often backfires.
Conservationists should harness the "Hollywood effect" to help protect animals, say researchers at the University of Exeter after studying possible connections between Hollywood and biodiversity conservation.
"Films might inspire people to learn more about conservation and take action," says Matthew Silk of the Environment and Sustainability Institute of the University of Exeter, co-author of the study. "But they might also misinform people and portray a simplified, romantic version of nature."
Scientific advisors are already part of many film productions. It might be useful to get input from biodiversity conservationists, too, the researchers say.
"We are not suggesting the movie industry become conservation campaigners," co-author Sarah Crowley said.
"Instead, we are saying: Conservationists and researchers should work hard to understand and take advantage of the opportunities cinema offers to tell people about little-known species and key habitats."