Human wildlife conflict

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As the world’s human population expands, the places where wildlife can still thrive are not only continually shrinking, but also becoming fragmented and more remote. This has resulted in people and animals increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food leading to a growing number of confrontations around the world between humans and wild animals – commonly referred to as ‘Human Wildlife Conflict’ (HWC).


Why should I be aware of this?

  • When wildlife lose their natural habitats and have reduced access to natural food sources, they eat agricultural crops and livestock.
  • They can destroy property and can injure or kill people.
  • In retaliation, human kill or capture animals.
  • Many of the people affected by HWC are some of the most impoverished on earth.
  • The harmonious and balanced relationship between humans and wildlife is crucial to sustainable development and a healthy environment and ecosystem.
  • Human wildlife conflict is one of the main threats to many species of wildlife, including many endangered species in different parts of the world.
  • If solutions to conflicts are not adequate, local support for conservation also declines.

How does this affect me?

  • These conflicts threaten to economic security, reduce food security and livelihood opportunities.
  • The rural communities with limited livelihood opportunities are often hardest hit by conflicts with wildlife.
  • These conflicts lead to endangered species and threatened species.
  • Such conflics have a long term adverse impact on the food chain.

All about human wildlife conflict

Causes of Human wildlife conflict

As habitat gets fragmented, the length of ‘edge’ for the interface between humans and wildlife increases, while the animal populations become compressed in insular refuges. Consequently, it leads to greater contact and conflict with humans as wild animals seek to fulfill their nutritional, ecological and behavioral needs.

Human activities that lead to loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitats.

  • Logging
  • Animal husbandry
  • Agricultural expansion
  • Developmental projects and infrastructures

Human elephant conflict

  • Crop damage by elephants is the root cause of human-elephant conflict across the elephant range countries.
  • Asian elephants are attracted to food crops which are more palatable, nutritious and have lower secondary defences than wild plants.

Reducing Human Wildlife Conflict

  • The solutions are often specific to the species or area concerned, and are often creative and simple.
  • The solutions are aimed at benefiting both the animals and local human communities, and actively involving these communities.

What can be done?

There has to be improved land-use planning processes and their strict implementation.

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Climate change and human wildlife conflict

Climate change is expected to exacerbate the existing loss of wildlife habitat in many vulnerable places:

  • By worsening the already pressing problems of droughts and floods.
  • Furthermore, climate change will alter the location and nature of the geographical environment, and wildlife will be forced to migrate to new areas as a way of adapting. This is likely to ring wildlife into more densely populated human areas, and create additional situations of HWC.


  • In Namibia, a rough estimation of the combined costs of HWC to communal area farmers is US$1 million annually.[1]
  • HWC in one region of Namibia alone (Caprivi) results in a loss of US $770,000 to the National Economy of Namibia. [1]
  • In Riau, Indonesia, HWC and its prevention can cost individual palm oil companies as much as US$ 23,234 per year. [1]
  • In one study site in Nepal, the average damage by elephants is as much as 27% of the yearly income for each individual household.[1]
  • A a single elephant can destroy a hectare of crops in a very short time; a small herd can decimate a farmer's livelihood overnight.[1]
  • In India about 150 - 200 people were killed by elephants each year during 1980 – 2000.[1]


  • Human – Wildlife Conflict
  • A Case Study on Human-Wildlife Conflict in Nepal
  • Common Ground -- Solutions for reducing the human, economic and conservation costs of human wildlife conflict.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Common Ground: Solutions for reducing the human, economic and conservation costs of human wildlife conflict.