Using Art for Conservation KHC AN 104 Wildlife conservation

For your assignment this week, please find an example of how art is used to convey conservation messages. This could be a story, poem, play, painting, or song. Look for examples that are NOT specifically photos or videos/documentaries as we have already learned about those format.

Click the + button, select photo or glideshow, upload a photo of your example or you can put in a web link or embed a video. Include a a sentence or two explaining what you found. I will show these in class on Tuesday, March 30. So, be sure to upload before class (by 10 am at the latest) on the 30th. I will periodically republish the page so you can see what others have added. We'll look at additional examples in class and you can each say a few words about what you found.

One common strategy in Wildlife Conservation is to use the arts to educate, spread awareness and change people's 'hearts and minds'.

Here is one of Tim Laman's birds of paradise photos that won an award in the "Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest" in the category "Creative Visions of Nature" in 2013.

Showing the beautify and wonder of nature is one way to inspire people to protect it.

A lot of children's books use artwork and storytelling to convey conservation messages and inspire children (and adults) to care about the environment. Dr. Suess's The Lorax is one of the classic examples.

You can read the whole book and think about why this has became a classic of children's, and environmental, literature.

Or check out these quotes from The Lorax and how a company is using them to promote eco friendly travel.

Words of wisdom from The Lorax

Music for Conservation

Music is a wonderful way to engage people in


Monkey Gone to Heaven by the Pixies (Student 1)

This song is about human's negative impact on the environment. It contains lyrics like... "There was a god/An under water god who controlled the sea/Got killed by ten million pounds of sludge/From New York and New Jersey", and "The creature in the sky/Got sucked in a hole/Now there's a hole in the sky/And the ground's not cold/And if the ground's not cold, everything is gonna burn/We'll all take turns, I'll get mine too". It talks about issues like pollution, atmospheric ozone, and global warming which are threats to wildlife.

The Blue Planet by Hans Zimmer (Student 2)

This is some of the music that accompanies the Blue Planet 2 nature documentary, narrated by none other than Sir David Attenborough. Here are some of the comments on YouTube: "This piece alone without knowing what its for tells me its about something magical, vast, huge and beautiful." "I'm obsessed with BBC Blue Planet documentaries. The soundtrack adds so much to the beauty." "People must listen to it so that they will try to protect those innocent creature"

Elephant Song by Kamahl (Student 3)

This song is dedicated to the conservation of elephants. It shows images and talks about how elephants are killed and to help save them. Some of the lines talk about not letting elephants be forgotten: "let the world of man remember / let the children not forget". The song and comments also talks about the cruelty elephants face when they are in circuses.

Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell

Big Yellow Taxi is one of Joni Mitchell's best known songs. She began writing it in the late 1960s in response to changes in the natural landscapes of Hawaii and California. It references many environmental concerns such as urban development at the cost of forests and the use of DDT. Many bird species, including the bald eagle, were put in danger from eating insects and fish poisoned by DDT, causing them to lay brittle eggs. This anthem, as the chorus rings, is about the environmental effects of taking things for granted.

Truth to Power by One Republic (Student 4)

This song takes a really interesting approach. The lyrics personify earth as if it were a person and uses personal pronouns. I think this gives extra power to the conservation message because the personification helps invoke human empathy. The main message is that the earth has "seen" other forms of truth turn to activism which turns to change (such as the civil rights movement) and that the earth "wants" us to do the same for conservation.

Earth - Lil Dicky (Student 5)

Although this entry is slightly innapropriate, I cannot omit its inclusion due to the effectivity in reaching the masses. Firstly, the song employs stunning visuals to keep viewers captivated. Furthermore, it also features several celebrities each representing a different animal (facts about each animal pictured can also be found on the their website). Thus, this inclusion of all these celebrities along with the catchy backtrack made the video a viral hit. Along with the video, a website was created (https://welovetheearth.org/) which helps viewers find more information relevant to the topic (such as ways to help, what the problem is, current news regarding conservation...). It also (arguably most importantly) has a very different tone to previous conservation projects. This tone is what I believe to have skyrocketed this video's success. Due to its more crude/mature nature, it makes learning about the topic more entertaining due to shock factor, along with differentiating itself from the several projects which predate it. Finally, any profits made from the song, or accompanying merchandising went towards existing conservation projects relating to renewable energy, nature conservation, and food waste.

What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (Student 6)

While this song doesn't have an explicit conservation message, it points out the beauty and wonder of the world. This in turn leads listeners to better appreciate nature and become inspired to conserve it. It's also such a great classic song that can always bring a smile to your face.

Feature Films

Conservation messages are often part of features films, often portraying a dystopic future

WALL-E tells the store of a robot who is the last of a line of robots left on Earth to clean-up the planet while humans have been on spaceships for the last 700 years waiting until the can return to Earth after the robots have cleaned up the mess we made.

In addition to this dystopic depiction of Earth full of garbage is the dystopic future of humans - who can no longer support their body weight and cruise around the in a perpetual virtual reality, tying in the fate of the planet to the fate of humanity.


At GPOCP student groups use theatre to convey conservation messages - writing and performing in their own plays. This one is about hornbill conservation. You can see the billboard on the back depicting orangutan conservation issues.

Puppet shows are used to engage younger children and teach about conservation messages.

S.A.F.E Kenya

S.A.F.E Kenya is a community led program that employs street theater, film, and education programs to inspire social change. Programs are thoughtfully curated to relevant social and environmental issues facing local communities throughout Kenya.

Community-led programs focus on:

  1. HIV/AIDS prevention
  2. Ending female genital cutting
  3. Providing clean drinking water
  4. Environmental sustainability
  5. Ending violence against women
This is an image of a street production of Gangavazi taking place in a community in the South Coast of Kenya

S.A.F.E. Pwani Environment Program

This program was designed to address the effects of climate change and increasing extreme weather events on vulnerable communities in Kenya. The program employs the powerful tool of Forum Theater in their interactive performance called, Gangavazi. Gangavazi productions aim to present environmental and social challenges faced by the community. Program leaders lead workshops and focus groups with community members to design a performance relevant to current issues faced by local stakeholders (fishermen, farmers, teachers, government officials, etc.)

This is one of the teams that lead Gangavazi performances on current social and environmental issues.

Within a 45-minute performance, issues such as sustainable fishing, mangrove cutting, sustainable farming, and biodiversity protection are explored. At the end of each performance, audience members are invited to re-run scenes and step into the shoes of onstage characters to change the course of action and resolve the situation. These performances show how individuals' lives are affected and ecologically, socially, and economically dependent on a changing and increasingly volatile environment. The interactive component then facilitates productive community discussion and solution discourse.

Infographics at Aquariums and Zoos (Student 7)

At the New England Aquarium in Boston, stunning architecturally creative tanks display sea life from all over the world.

This infographic describes local wildlife and habitats. It works to combine a face to the name of threatened species, and gives viewers a personal connection. It gives interesting facts about the species and their habitats, along with the human impact. It also shows viewers how they can help protect the wildlife.

Infographics like this one educate people on why conservation should matter to them, and gives them tangible activities to help protect the oceans.

"Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience" at the Franklin Park Zoo (Boston, MA) (Student 8).

The zoo displays giant illuminated lanterns representing various animals and wildlife for visitors to walk through. Meanwhile, they offer educational resources on local conservation projects and the importance of protecting biodiversity. It is a joyful, fun-for-all-ages way to get people engaged in conservation learning!
Essays, Poems and Novels (Student 9)

Essays and poems can create beautiful images in people's minds through descriptive language and other writing techniques

Poems are used by the authors to emit an emotion, so they can be a useful tool to make people care about conservation
The language can also make the reader see things differently, as this poem does in changing the view of an Elm tree.
Poems, essays, and novels use solely words (instead of images) to elicit a change in the behavior of the reader. They create stories that the reader can compare their own experiences to, and they use powerful figurative language to explain ideas in an unconventional way


Events where children can draw wildlife help to make connections.

Youth conservation groups use music, video, and street presentations to spread the word about orangutan conservation.

School visits that use drama and art as part of conservation education.


Created with images by Couleur - "guitar musical instrument stringed instrument" • Alexas_Fotos - "award good movie trophy" • Libracesp - "curtain theatre las vegas"