DO WE VALUE WILD ANIMALS MORE THAN TAME ONES? THE EXAMPLE OF THE SMOOTH-COATED OTTER IN SINGAPORE
Published: 12 Sep 2018
Abstract: Although a variety of urban wildlife exists worldwide, opportunities to observe it are rare, except for some species such as birds. Generally, the frequency with which aquatic animals are encountered is incredibly low. We selected the smooth-coated otter in Marina Bay, Singapore, as the object of an empirical investigation into people's preferences related to wildlife encounters in urban tourism spots. A premium for wild animals over tame ones will provide a more solid academic foundation for the argument that a policy for the conservation of wild species is important to people. We conducted questionnaires to gather data on September 22, 2017, and June 20, 2018. We applied conjoint analyses using observations provided by the respondents and found the following results. First, we compared the perceived value of wild and tame otters and discovered a 35 to 49% premium for wild ones. Second, we investigated the relationship between sighting frequency and respondents’ perceived value of the otters. Our results implied that respondents bestowed high value to wild otters, as long as the sighting frequency was high enough. Third, we examined whether respondents would indeed be willing to pay to watch otters after providing cues about the existence of alternative activities, such as sightseeing, and confirming the rareness of seeing otters in an urban bay. We observed a reduced willingness to pay after giving these cues, especially for tame otters; this result may also imply that respondents prefer wild animals.
Keywords: lutrogale perspicillata marina bay, singapore, smooth-coated otter, wild sea animals
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