The first week of October every year is celebrated as Wildlife Week. The aim of this week is to make people aware about the dangers animals are facing today and the need for conservation strategies.
With Wildlife Week 2020 approaching, I think it’s as good a time as any to discuss human-wildlife conflicts. It’s a problem that is not unique to any place in the world; from India to Africa to North America, every major human population in the world has this conflict going on. Any place where you have a human habitation overlapping a natural landscape, you are bound to encounter some form of human-wildlife conflict. The problem often slips under the radar, but has been causing huge monetary losses to every country.
Human wild-life conflict has been defined by many organizations. Two of them are-
Human-wildlife conflict occurs when wildlife requirements encroach on those of human populations, with costs both to residents and wild animals (IUCN 2005).
“Human-wildlife conflict occurs when the needs and behavior of wildlife impact negatively on the goals of humans or when the goals of humans negatively impact the needs of wildlife (5th annual World Parks Congress).
It makes sense to dwell on these two definitions for a minute. The first one, defined by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources), has clear undertones indicating that it’s the animal’s fault for causing the conflict. That cannot be further from the truth. While they are responsible for instigating a fight due to their natural behavior, is it really their fault?
You know as well as I do that it is humans who start the conflict by mindlessly expanding into the animals’ habitats. That is why it’s called HUMAN-wildlife conflict (humans are placed first in the term).
The second definition, is more well rounded, because it involves both facets; wildlife negatively impacting humans and humans negatively impacting wildlife needs.
From my understanding of the situation, human-wildlife conflict is any interaction between animals and humans that can cause negative impact on one or both parties.
The conflict happens in many scales. The classical scenario is of a tiger/leopard entering agricultural lands and feeding on livestock and injuring and/or killing humans who try to ward them off. But other kinds of conflicts do exist. For example, people warding off pigeons from laying eggs on their window sills is a type of human-wildlife conflict. You wouldn’t think twice before doing this, would you? But for the pigeon, it’s a major problem because she has to lay her eggs and keep them safe! Similar interactions occur in urban landscape between humans and squirrels, bees and birds.
On a slightly larger scale, you have conflicts where wild animals enter human lands because of competition, lack of food or tastier alternative into human land on the edges of a natural forest. The losses suffered are both ways here; on some days, the animal wins and goes off triumphant while on other days, humans manage to capture and kill the animal.
On a much larger landscape, we have conflicts arising directly due to human encroachment on natural land. Deforestation, highway construction through natural habitats, expansion of agricultural land causes conflicts where, more often than not, the animals suffer.
Human-wildlife conflicts make a conservationist’s life very difficult. When conservationists work really hard to protect wildlife, often by educating locals about their importance and setting up programs to help communities live harmoniously, their success increases animal populations, which eventually end up entering human space and damaging human property. This angers locals and pushes them to take drastic measures—against the animals and the conservationists.
There is no permanent solution to the conflicts between humans and wildlife. Competition is the law of nature. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the dynamics of the conflict so as to mitigate them. It will go a long way in reducing massive economic loss to humans and massive loss of life to the animals. In the end, resolving these conflicts will help conserve the world’s biodiversity.
Never forget the words of this woman, who lives on the edge of the Bandipur National Park in India. Every year, pig raids destroy the crops on her farm. When asked if this made her angry, she replied, “This is as much their home as it is ours.”
Reblogged this on Martian Poet and commented:
Today, Oct 4th is also Animal Welfare day. It’s a good time to start talking about one of the major problems in the natural environment today.
It would also help if our focus was not so much on how to physically resolve the intrusion of creatures into our lives, but more on appreciating nature for what she is and embracing the experience. Of course that will be a hard sell to farmers and many businesses but it could start at a grass roots level. Here (S.Ontario) seeing deer in the back garden should be a pleasure to be savored. Seeing coyotes on a quiet rural trail should be recognized as very natural for them. Seeing a hawk take off with somebody’s cat should simply be a lesson that, around here, you should not let your cat roam outside unless under your control (which is local law anyway). So much of our attitude is simply a non-appreciation of nature and not recognizing our intrusion into “her” world.
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I agree Colin. Aesthetics plays a big part in wildlife conservation. It is one of the arguments that people ignorant/against the biodiversity crisis cannot refute. If we can appreciate natural beauty, our conscience will not let us destroy it. Further, it is our moral responsibility to keep our “home” and all the elements in it, safe. A moral angle is also introduced.
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Reblogged this on Brown Little Sparrow and commented:
We all really need to understand this
I agree with Colin. I also think that the feeling of inclusiveness is absent and human beings seem to have become oblivious to the suffering of other beings due to detrimental activities such as mindless urbanization, deforestation etc. Human beings tend to forget that the lands they occupy is not only about ‘as much as their home as mine’ but is a literal encroachment of their natural space.
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True. Today, it’s all about “I care about me and no one else” and “YOLO”. While the idea isn’t so bad, that’s not how nature works and it is not sustainable.
Great post. Humans need to understand that our actions have consequences on our environment and our earthling friends who share the earth space with us.
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Thank you! Absolutely, yes.
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