Prayer Animal Release Can Embody Conservation Principles: A Call to Action
As researchers and practitioners increasingly realize the importance of engaging religious leaders and communities in projects to conserve biological diversity, the Society for Conservation Biology established the Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group (RCBWG) to identify ways to facilitate their interaction.
Scientists contribute to this interaction by drawing conclusions from data collected, while religious communities provide the motivation and ethical incentives for implementing scientific conclusions. Working together provides a more comprehensive approach to a problem that a scientific or a religious community cannot achieve when acting alone. Their collaboration is essential for many problems that SCB members have been addressing for years, and some of these problems have grave societal ramifications.
The RCB Working Group has become aware of practices in which religious communities engage that are causing havoc in biotic communities. Among these problematic practices is the widespread aberration of the Buddhist ritual of releasing animals that was originally intended to show compassion but has since fallen short of this objective. A sub-group of the RCB Working Group, the Religion and Conservation Research Collaborative (RCRC), was formed to research this problem and to recommend the adoption of policies that appear in a brief endorsed by the Global Policy Committee of the SCB titled "Prayer Animal Release Can Embody Conservation Principles: A Call to Action."
Thus far, religious communities have reacted positively when made aware of scientific facts that point to deleterious effects of their practices. Some ideas for native species to be released in appropriate areas have been shared by Buddhists when interacting with scientists. These collaborative efforts initiated by the SCB to resolve problems bode well for biological conservation, the well-being of people who are involved, and the flourishing of Earth.