Summarized briefly, animal liberation/animal rights' valuation of the individual about its zoological taxon or associates in a community is an extension of ethical theory to animals, using the criterion of sentience rather than rationality for ascribing to the individual the right to an existence free of human-imposed pain and suffering. Humans are not entitled to inflict pain of any purpose, according to this view, including the utilization of animals for food or clothing, for scientific and medical experimentation, for recreation, or even for the animals' own survival as a zoological entity. Insofar as the have written on the subject, the major articulators of animal rights philosophy have espoused essentially a hands-off policy with regard to preservation of animal life in the wild state. Singer (1975), for example, sees most human attempts at manipulating ecosystems as causing more harm than good (i.e., an increase in suffering), and advocates that we refrain from further meddling in their lives. Regan (1983), in an oft quoted statement, holds that "the rights view does not recognize the moral right of species to anything, including survival" (p. 359), and recommends that with regard to wild animals, including the highly endangered, the correct policy is to "let them be!" (p. 361). If we respect the rights of the individual, it is held, it should be apparent that the species will in turn benefit.
Lindburg, D.G. (1995). Preserving individuals versus conserving populations: Is there a conflict?. In A. Rowan (Ed.) Wildlife Conservation, Zoos and Animal Protection: A Strategic Analysis (pp. 152-169).