Scientists from Oxford, UK, propose that the fashion industry start paying royalties by using the pattern that mimics leopard skin, to try to help reverse the decline of this feline.
“THE leopard pattern is one of the most enduring trends in fashion. But, unfortunately, the leopards themselves have disappeared from more than 75% of their historical distribution and are now extinct in at least a dozen countries and regions, ”said Caroline Good, of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, in a statement. Oxford University (WildCRU) and responsible for this research.
The researcher explained that the team then decided to “quantify the leopard pattern’s interest in the fashion industry, analyzing traditional media, activity on Google and Instagram posts”.
“We found that, although there are 2.9 million Instagram posts with the hashtag #leopardprint and 80,000 news articles in English over a 15-year period, there is very little evidence that this interest lead to discussion of issues around the loss of biodiversity and the extinction crisis. For example, in the traditional media, less than 2% of references to the leopard pattern were associated with the state of conservation of the animal, ”he said in the same note.
“There is a clear disconnect between the ongoing interest in leopard pattern fashion and the lack of interest – or concern – with the animal itself,” lamented Good, one of the authors of the study published on February 15, in the scientific journal. Journal for Nature Conservation.
However, the researchers say that although this lack of interest presents challenges, it can also bring opportunities for the conservation of the leopard (Panthera pardus).
“In this article, we revisit our idea of implementing a kind of royalties for the use of animal symbolism in prosperous cultural economies, which could revolutionize conservation financing. It would be a major challenge that would involve commitments from many parties, but we believe it is an idea worth exploring, ”said David Macdonald, director of WildCRU and co-author of the study published in 2017.
The team suggests that with the large amount of leopard-print products sold worldwide annually, even the smallest royalty paid for each of them as a mutual benefit exchange could have a major impact on funding for the conservation of this animal.
“We hope that this study will be of interest to conservation NGOs looking for innovative marketing campaigns, as well as for-profit fashion brands and retailers who want to engage with consumers who demand social responsibility. This is a potential long-term solution to finance leopard conservation that could be implemented worldwide, ”concludes Macdonald.