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Younger Singaporeans far more likely to support wildlife conservation than older ones: Survey

SINGAPORE — Younger Singaporeans are far more likely than their older counterparts to support wildlife conservation, a survey has found.

Critically endangered Sumatran orangutans pictured at Singapore Zoo in 2016. A recent survey found that visits to the zoo can provide inspiration to adults and children to take a greater interest in conservation.

Critically endangered Sumatran orangutans pictured at Singapore Zoo in 2016. A recent survey found that visits to the zoo can provide inspiration to adults and children to take a greater interest in conservation.

  • Singaporeans aged 16 to 34 are more inclined to support wildlife conservation than their older counterparts
  • However, many of the younger people said their biggest barrier to taking action was not knowing where to start
  • An official from Wildlife Reserves Singapore said getting started can be as simple as volunteering 

 

SINGAPORE — Younger Singaporeans are far more likely than their older counterparts to support wildlife conservation, a survey has found.

The Conservation Sentiments Survey, released on Thursday (Oct 1), found that half of Generation Z respondents, those aged 16 to 24, supported conservation efforts — more than double the 20 per cent of Generation X respondents, aged 45 to 54, who did so.

The survey, which was commissioned by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and conducted in May this year, polled more than 1,000 Singapore residents aged 16 and above. The results come ahead of World Animal Day on Sunday.

WRS manages the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari, the Jurong Bird Park and the River Safari.

Generation Y respondents, those aged 25 to 34, were the second largest group (47 per cent) among the respondents to support wildlife conservation.

Although the youngest age bracket were the biggest proponents of wildlife conservation, about three in five (61 per cent) said that the difficulty of not knowing where to begin was their biggest barrier to playing a part in wildlife conservation.

A survey looked at the attitudes of Singaporeans towards conservation efforts. Illustration: Anam Musta'ein/TODAY

Dr Cheng Wen Haur, deputy chief executive officer of WRS, said that the survey was conducted to gain a better understanding behind the attitudes and motivations of Singaporeans when it comes to wildlife conservation.

Some key findings from the survey are detailed below. 

SOCIAL CAUSES

While the younger generation are more inclined to support wildlife conservation, the survey found that this issue did not make the cut for the top three social causes among any of the age groups, including the young.

These are the top social causes that Generations Z, Y and X support.

Gen Z

  • Low-income families (64 per cent)

  • Eldercare (56 per cent)

  • Climate change (54 per cent)

Gen Y

  • Low-income families (53 per cent)

  • Underprivileged children (49 per cent)

  • Climate change (49 per cent)

Gen X

  • Low-income families (58 per cent)

  • Underprivileged children (48 per cent)

  • Eldercare (46 per cent)

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

About half of the survey respondents have never taken part in conservation efforts, such as donating or volunteering to causes that support wildlife, making sustainable lifestyle or behavioural changes, or being a pro-wildlife conservation advocate.

The reasons given were:

  • Not having time (40 per cent)

  • Not knowing how (39 per cent)

  • Not financially able (33 per cent)

However, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of all respondents said that they are motivated to contribute to conservation efforts by:

  • Taking steps in daily life that will help the environment and wildlife (61 per cent)

  • Visiting wildlife parks or zoos (49 per cent)

The survey found that Singaporeans would be more willing to get involved in wildlife conservation if they:

  • Knew their actions would have an impact (38 per cent). This was the top motivator for Gen Y

  • Had more financial resources (37 per cent). This was the top motivator for Gen Z

  • More media awareness about the issue (30 per cent)

Slightly more than a third (35 per cent) of baby boomers age 55 and above said that they would be motivated if they watched an inspiring wildlife-related documentary or movie.

When it came to finding out who should be responsible for leading wildlife conservation, three in five Singaporeans felt that the Government, as well as individuals, have the biggest role to play.

WILDLIFE KNOWLEDGE

The survey also showed that there is still some way to go for Singaporeans to learn about wildlife.

Although respondents fared well in correctly identifying the top bubble tea brands in Singapore (70 per cent), only slightly more than three in 10 Singaporeans were able to correctly name native wildlife species.

These non-native species were the most misidentified as being native to Singapore:

  • Javan mynah (64 per cent)

  • Rock pigeon (59 per cent)

  • House crow (58 per cent)

The most recognisable native species were:

  • Smooth-coated otter (59 per cent)

  • Long-tailed macaque (49 per cent)

  • Sunda pangolin (34 per cent)

Lesser known native species were:

  • Reticulated python (29 per cent)

  • Lesser mousedeer (28 per cent)

  • Straw-headed bulbul (23 per cent)

The top source for learning about wildlife among the respondents was through watching television, movies and documentaries (75 per cent).

Other sources included:

  • Internet (71 per cent)

  • Zoos (36 per cent)

  • Nature reserves (31 per cent)

Not only did a large majority of visitors to the parks managed by WRS learn new facts about animals (61 per cent) during their visits, but this experience also had a trickle-down effect by sparking an interest in about a third of children to care about biodiversity (31 per cent).

WHY CONSERVATION MATTERS

Dr Cheng said that human beings have put so much pressure on Earth that issues such as wildlife conservation cannot be taken for granted any more.

“We need a working planet in order for us to survive,” Dr Cheng said, adding that the zoo will use the survey results to inform its outreach practices.

“Fresh water, fresh air, food security, to be free from disease — all require a functioning ecosystem,” he said.

Getting involved in wildlife conservation does not require one to be well-heeled, Dr Cheng said. Interested Singaporeans could consider volunteering with WRS, or just reading up so that they can make better life decisions that will have less of an impact on the environment.

“Yes, it's about ensuring that as many species as possible survive so that we will have a functioning ecosystem, but ultimately, it is also about our quality of life and survival.”

Related topics

wild life conservation Generation Z survey Wildlife Reserves Singapore

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