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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 286-298

Invasive species in penguin worlds: An ethical taxonomy of killing for conservation

School of History and Philosophy, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Thom van Dooren
School of History and Philosophy, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.92140

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This paper explores various attempts to manage predation threats to an endangered population of little penguins (Eudyptula minor) living in Sydney's North Harbour. Some of these threats have come from species that are generally termed 'exotic' (such as the red fox, Vulpes vulpes), while other threats have potentially come from 'natives' (such as the New Zealand fur seal, Arctocephalus forsteri). This paper explores the problematic notion of 'invasiveness' as it applies to native and introduced predators, and the role that these rhetorical distinctions play in positioning various species as 'threats' to the continuity of this penguin colony. In particular, the paper is concerned with conservation legislation and practice in New South Wales, and the unique kind of 'ethical work' done by these processes of classifying living things. Finally, the paper asks, in the absence of a simplistic-but helpful-correlation between exotic and invasive species, how might we understand and justify the conservation of an isolated colony of little penguins? What kinds of interventions (from humans and nonhumans) are warranted, and which are not? What might it mean to genuinely inhabit these difficulties, making conservation decisions outside of any space of simple and absolute answers?

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