The overused term "charismatic megavertebrate" means exactly that: large vertebrates which are cute, beautiful, or culturally significant, and hence popular with the lay public. These animals draw huge crowds to see them in zoos and fuel much of eco-tourism. In their natural habitat, when they are threatened by poaching, pollution, or habitat destruction, huge effort and heartfelt emotion is often expended in their defense. The flipside of this phenomenon is the plight of ugly and small species, whose extinction can pass nearly unnoticed. Of course, most of the factors that threaten charismatic megavertebrates also threaten the other species which which they share their ecosystems, so the resulting conservation efforts do have trickle down effects on more species than just their intended beneficiaries.

Some example species: