Podcast: Philippa Brakes | Animal Culture and Conservation

While researching for a series of podcasts looking at how the Covid-19 pandemic was impacting conservation Charlie Moores was put in touch with Phillipa Brakes, a research fellow at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, a charity dedicated to the protection of whales and dolphins.

Philippa and Charlie had spoken before and at the time had prepped a podcast on animal sentience which they’d not been able to record. Charlie had planned to pick up on the subject again but read two co-written online reports that chnaged the his mind. The first included the striking sentence “most profoundly, culture can play a causal role in establishing and maintaining distinct evolutionary trajectories”. A second co-authored report said thatIf we consider that knowledge may be as vital a currency as genes for some social species, maintaining the diversity of non-human intangible cultural heritage may be as important for some marine mammals as it is for humans”. Discuss, indeed!

They covered a fair bit of ground in a short time, but Charlie began by asking Philippa how she might define culture and define conservation…


“…information is the currency of biodiversity – socially transmitted information is really important for being able to make sure that you find enough food or that you find the right kind of mate or find the right habitat…”

Philippa Brakes | Animal Culture and Conservation
April 2020


The paper that sparked this conversation is online: just search ‘Animal cultures matter for conservation’ or please click this link for a pdf download. Whale and Dolphin Conservation is online at uk.whales.org.
We have more material relevant to marine life and the marine environment here on The War on Wildlife Project website – including of course the conversation with Erich Hoyt on Important Marine Mammal Areas referred to in this podcast – please search ‘WDC’ or ‘oceans’.