There are a number of things we can do in a direct way to reduce the harms that animals undergo in the wild. There would be ways to give them even greater assistance if we had more knowledge and means.
For this to be possible, the most important thing is for our societies to care about helping animals in the wild. It is possible that if societies never see helping wild animals as important, the needs of animals in the wild will never be addressed. The longer our society delays in taking this issue seriously, the more billions of nonhuman animals will be left without help. Some people believe it’s impossible to help animals in nature. As we will show below, this is wrong. There are numerous ways we can help animals already. There are other ways we will be able to help animals if we decide it’s important to us.
There are people who oppose helping animals in nature because they claim it’s natural for animals in the wild to suffer or because we shouldn’t be concerned about the plight of animals, but rather about ecosystems or other natural entities.1 The argument from relevance explains why those views must be rejected, since when it comes to being harmed or benefited, what matters is whether an individual can feel suffering and joy. In fact, views that we should allow animals to suffer are almost always due to a speciesist bias, since they are not held when it comes to humans: most of us think humans should be aided when they need it. We don’t refuse to help humans because we think it’s natural for humans to suffer and die (for instance, from starvation or diseases).
There are several things that can be done currently to help nonhuman animals:
There are many examples of ways animals can be helped and are actually helped nowadays. In many other cases, however, little is done even when we have the knowledge and means to help. We should make sure that we aid animals when we can. And when we learn about cases of intervention to help animals, we should let others know about them. In this way, we can all contribute to spreading concern for animals in the wild, and help make it possible that animals in nature will get the help they so badly need.
The biggest obstacle to increasing aid for nonhuman animals who live in the wild is the very little consideration that most nonhuman animals are currently given, due to speciesist views that are widely accepted today. A very important step is working towards the rejection of speciesism. This includes spreading the arguments questioning speciesism. To help achieve this, we can support current antispeciesist organizations so they can continue their work, and help to increase their support.
A common argument against providing aid to animals in the wild is that we may not have enough knowledge to help animals suffering different harms in nature. This is true in many cases, but it’s mistaken to deduce that this means we shouldn’t do anything for them. What it means is that we must acquire the knowledge that is necessary to start solving the problem as far as it is possible.
The two views are commonly thought to be compatible, or even linked. We need to make clear that since environmentalism prioritizes things other than the wellbeing of sentient individuals, it is incompatible with antispeciesism. As the argument from relevance explains, only from positions that are opposed to speciesism can sentient animals be truly defended.
In the same vein, it’s necessary that the question of the suffering of wild animals be treated seriously, and considered an issue that requires our attention. It’s very important that we spread the word about how serious the situation of animals in the wild is and how important it is that we have a positive attitude toward helping them.
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