“Of fowls after their kind,” the Lord said to Noah, “and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee”. Cooperation from the animal kingdom helped make the biblical patriarch history’s greatest conservationist, saving every land-based animal, including humans, from a wave of divine extinction.
Unlike Noah, contemporary conservationists face constraints: they cannot save everything. The patriarch was able to fit a breeding pair of each of the 5.6 million or so terrestrial species onto his 300 cubits-long ark. If he was forced instead to ration his space, facing the traditional economic problem of scarce resources and unlimited wants, which animals should Noah have prioritised and kept safe from the flood for future generations?