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Abstract

General factors are outlined that may influence the support of members of the public for the conservation of different species of reptiles. Survey results are then summarised of the variations in the likeability of different species of reptiles as well as whether or not their survival is supported by those surveyed. The relationship between these two factors is outlined and its consequences for the survival of reptile species compared to birds and mammals is specified, assuming a decision situation like that depicted by the Noah’s Ark problem. Furthermore, the extent to which the results support the similarity principle are considered. A substantial dichotomy in the likeability of different reptile species is observed: turtle species tend to be liked much more than species of crocodiles and snakes. This requires some modification to the similarity principle. This disparity is reflected in a dichotomy in public policies for the conservation of reptiles. Evidence in favour of this hypothesis is outlined and the hypothesis is illustrated by Australian policies for the consideration of reptiles. Some attention is also given to the changes in attitudes towards the conservation of reptiles that can occur as a result of knowledge provision and ecotourism.

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