Washington, Aug 10 : In a study of purple martin landlords, scientists have claimed that volunteers who take part in conservation efforts may do it more for themselves than the wildlife they are trying to protect.
This University of Alberta study said that purple martin landlords, who keep and monitor special birdhouses on their land, were more motivated to take part in the conservation project for egoistic rather than altruistic reasons.
"Though there were areas of overlap, we found that common motivations for self-benefit included interaction with the birds, a sense of achievement, social interaction, personal stimulation and enjoyment," said Glen Hvenegaard, a professor of geography and environmental studies at the University of Alberta's Augustana campus in Canada.
The study compared self-motivated volunteers with recruited ones and conducted to determine what compelled people to donate their time in conservation projects.
Hvenegaard added: "Past research shows that people take part in wildlife activities for many reasons and so require a sophisticated level of management. Our findings reinforce that.
"Though self-satisfaction motivations were mentioned most often, people also had many unselfish reasons for taking part in conservation, including helping this vulnerable species, preserving nature for future generations and serving the community."
The findings may help organizers of other conservation movements recruit and, more importantly, keep satisfied volunteers.
"With declining budgets, most wildlife agencies are not well-equipped to manage the growing number of species at risk, so they are depending more on volunteers to help with wildlife management operations," said Hvenegaard.
This applies especially to purple martins, a member of the swallow family that is almost completely dependent on nest boxes and subsequent management provided by volunteers.
The study recommends that project organizers offer opportunities for social interaction through meetings, mentoring and phone lists, encourage landlords to record nesting results for their birds, and provide a broader understanding about the conservation of purple martins.
It will be presented at the Conference on Integrating Human Dimensions into Fisheries and Wildlife Management in Colorado.