Dec 06, 2017
Cross-posted on behalf of Persis Eskander of the Wild-Animal Suffering Research team.
Wild animals suffer on an immense scale, we don’t yet have solutions to this suffering and very few people are concerned. The Wild-Animal Suffering Research (WASR) project’s mission is to find a path to reduce the suffering experienced by nonhuman animals in nature.
We launched our project in June 2017 with a team of three researchers working part-time on strategy, communications, outreach and research. In the last six months we are pleased to say that the reception to our work has been extremely positive. Although we are still in early days, we believe focusing on how to reduce wild-animal suffering through empirical research and movement growth is a promising path with a potentially enormous impact.
We are now fundraising for 2018. We estimate we can use up to $161,205 for the next 18 months in additional funding to continue and expand our research. If you’d like to support our work, you can donate to our fundraiser. Below we outline our plans for 2018.
Improve our understanding of wild-animal suffering: There is much we still don’t know about wild-animal suffering. To know if we can effectively intervene on behalf of wild animals, we should understand the quality of their lives, which events cause suffering, how that suffering is experienced, and the magnitude of harm.
Build a community of active researchers and advocates: Given the enormity and complexity of this problem, we need more people working on finding solutions to it. These include both researchers with domain expertise and advocates promoting concern for the cause area. To build this community we need to identify a path to engaging and recruiting talented researchers, and advocates.
Strategic Plan 2018 - 2020
We are currently working on a strategic plan in which we outline a path to determine the tractability of the wild-animal suffering cause area as a whole. The plan will focus on a two-year period, and will be published in the first quarter of 2018. Our goal is to find an answer to the following question: is wild-animal suffering tractable? We consider this early exploration crucial even after accounting for the possibility that we find the cause area to be intractable at this time. The strategic plan will include our path to impact through research, outreach, and fundraising; our impact metrics; and an evaluation plan.
Wildlife management interventions: Ozy Brennan will work on papers summarizing the evidence about a handful of broad areas of intervention into wild-animal suffering such as wildlife contraception, disease control, supplemental feeding and predator control.
Humanity’s impact on wild-animal suffering: Persis Eskander will focus on collecting data on how, where and to what extent human activities affect wild animals and exploring their implications for wild-animal suffering. Promising areas of exploration include: human appropriation of net primary productivity; animal population control measures; poverty reduction and economic development; and crop cultivation.
Wild animal experiences: Georgia Ray will work on assessing existing wild-animal suffering: exploring the types of experiences that wild animals have, quantifying the amount and severity of suffering, and the capacity to suffer.
We hope to add 1 - 2 domain experts to our Advisory Board to help improve the quality and rigour of our research.
We will complete an outreach plan detailing how we plan to engage with academia, where we think outreach is most useful within the effective altruism and effective animal advocacy communities and how supporters can become actively involved in reducing wild-animal suffering.
In 2017, we didn’t spend enough time considering diverse platforms for our content. In 2018, we plan publish our content on research databases such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu. We will also consider academic journals, online forums and mainstream media platforms that might be receptive to our work.
We will attend all EA Global conferences and apply for opportunities to present our work, give talks, or host workshops. We will also compile a list of conferences focused on animal studies or animal advocacy and prioritize attending 2 - 3 of these in 2018 based on expected informational and networking value.
We will host a regularly updated online library of WAS-relevant resources on our website to provide a central source of information for advocates and researchers. We will also offer either regular WAS-specific Q&A opportunities or maintain a regularly updated FAQ on our website to improve the community’s understanding of the cause area.
We will explore avenues to enhance the level of collaboration between wild-animal suffering advocates, wild-animal suffering organizations and organizations working in related fields to lay the foundations for a strong community.
Our current team of three part-time researchers accounts for 45 hours per week (or 1.125 full-time employees (FTE)). We’re hoping to grow our team to 3.25 FTE in 2018. We’ll break-down the 3.25 FTE as follows:
2.5 FTE on research;
0.5 FTE on outreach activities; and
0.25 FTE on project coordination, fundraising and other administrative activities.
We will complete a fundraising plan detailing the WASR project’s plans for growth, and where we believe more funding would be most valuable for individuals interested in supporting the wild-animal suffering cause area.
We plan to apply for at least one more grant from the Animal Advocacy Research Fund to support our project. We will also offer advice to independent researchers seeking funding from the Animal Advocacy Research Fund or EA Grants to conduct wild-animal suffering research.
To get a full overview, see our room for more funding. To summarize, we’ve set two fundraising goals.
Minimum Growth: We increase hours and hourly rates and and we have auxiliary finances to attend conferences. To maintain an 18-month runway, we need $100,173.
Maximum Growth: We increase hours and hourly rates, we hire another full-time researcher and we have auxiliary finances to attend conferences. To maintain an 18-month runway we need $161,205.
If you’d like to help us fill our funding gap, you can donate online. As always, we welcome feedback on our work.