Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) occurs when animals pose a direct and recurring threat to the livelihood or safety of people and this leads to the persecution of that species.
Such conflict affects most large carnivores, elephants, pigs, deer, primates, sharks, seals, birds of prey, crocodiles, rhinos, otters, and many other taxa. It has led to the extinction of several species, and to substantial populations declines and reduced distributions of many others. Many of the affected species range beyond the boundaries of protected areas, the edges of which can become population sinks. Retaliatory killing has, for example, halved local populations of cheetah, Eurasian lynx and tigers in several regions, and altered the ranging patterns and behaviours of elephants and felids.
Furthermore, in some cases, successes in species recovery have resulted in creating new human-wildlife conflict. Therefore, conservation strategies for conflict prone species need to consider not only current scenarios but also anticipate emerging conflicts to ensure sustainable coexistence.
Human-wildlife conflict often severely impacts the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the people of whom we ask support for wider conservation goals. There are immense challenges in addressing HWC around the world, in particular because underlying cultural, political and economic aspects that shape these conflicts at their roots are often very complex and poorly understood. Indeed, human-wildlife conflicts are essentially conflicts between stakeholders, perhaps more accurately thought of as “human-human” conflicts, involving to varying extents the wildlife species of concern.
Much research and collective experience across the world has shown that each case of conflict is different from the next, making it difficult to devise easily transferrable solutions. Therefore, interdisciplinary approaches are essential to understanding what a given conflict is about, knowing what is needed for mitigation of a given conflict and having the skills, capacity, and resources to act in the right way.