A new report by WWF and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) has stated that human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is one the biggest threats to the long-term survival of some of the world’s most emblematic species.
Going forward, the authors have called for the use of measures that address the underlying causes of HWC, such as community incentivisation via sustainable use.
According to the report, conflict-related killing affects more than 75% of the world’s wild cat species, as well as many other terrestrial and marine carnivore species such as polar bears, and large herbivores such as elephants.
HWC was found to mainly impact communities in form of livestock loss, damage to crops and property, as well as death and injury to people.
This typically causes people to kill animals in self-defence, or as a retaliatory measure after they have been impacted by a HWC incident. The loss of individuals from an ecosystem then has a cascading influence on others living in the same habitat, causing a negative ripple throughout all species living within the same system.
The report has now brought attention to the scale of the HWC problem, and has asked for action in addressing it in the form of national and international processes.
Increasing HWC tolerance amongst communities was mentioned as one of the key factors when looking maintain high wildlife numbers in human-dominated landscapes.
Namibia was given as a case study that successfully implements these ideas in practice. Their community based natural resource management (CBNRM) approach, which provides rights over wildlife and tourism to communities, allows people coexisting with wildlife to benefit from its sustainable use.
The benefits derived from the use of wildlife resources, such as through hunting or eco-tourism, then incentivises people to sustainably manage wildlife populations, in spite of HWC incidents that may occur.
The importance of stakeholder collaboration was also mentioned as a key aspect of HWC resolution. A successful example of this principle in action can be seen in the work of the EU funded Life Euro Large Carnivores project.
The project takes the needs and interests of multiple stakeholders, including farmers, livestock owners, local citizens and hunters, and works together with them to create local HWC management solutions.
The CIC congratulates WWF and UNEP for putting together this insightful report, and joins them in stressing the importance of community incentivisation and stakeholder collaboration when looking to successfully address human-wildlife conflict.