Human and wildlife conflict

Definition

Human and wildlife conflict (HWC) is defined as any human and wildlife interaction which results in negative effects on human social, economic, or cultural life, on wildlife conservation, or on the environment.

Context

Human population growth increases the demand for natural resources. This has led to wildlife habitat degradation and fragmentation with humans and livestock encroaching on natural habitats. Wildlife is increasingly competing with humans for limited natural resources resulting in an increase in human and wildlife conflicts. HWCs currently rank amongst the major threats to the survival of many endangered species as well as the security and well-being of community livelihoods in Africa. HWC has also become a major challenge in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, creating negative sentiments towards conservation, especially when new protected areas are established, or existing protected areas expanded. The consequence of HWC includes damage and destruction of crops, reduced farm productivity, competition for grazing lands and water, livestock being hunted by wildlife, injury and death to farmers, damage to infrastructure, and increased risk of disease transmission among wildlife and livestock.

As many countries tackle this multi-faceted challenge, the issue of HWC is starting to be considered in national policies and strategies for wildlife, development, and poverty alleviation. However, there is a need to improve the sharing and transfer of knowledge, to adopt a more inclusive and interdisciplinary approach, and to greatly increase cross-sectoral collaboration among forestry, wildlife, agriculture, livestock, and other relevant sectors at the national level.

FAO’s involvement

FAO actively supports the efforts of Member countries to better manage HWCs by facilitating cross-sectoral dialogues among stakeholders for sharing information; generating guidance on good practices; providing technical guidelines for the development of national policies and legal frameworks; and implementing field activities.

In response to HWC related requests by the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, FAO has produced a series of educational technical publications, ranging from a general overview of HWC in Africa to more specific reports on elephant, lion, baboon and crocodile conflicts.

FAO, in collaboration with CIRAD, BIO-HUB, WWF, and CAMPFIRE Association, developed a HWC toolkit in 2012. The toolkit has a range of resources designed for use by rural farmers and local communities, and addresses all dimensions of HWC. It has been field-tested in FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) projects in Zimbabwe and Mozambique and delivered through training workshops in the Southern, Central and Eastern Africa subregions. To raise awareness in Zimbabwe, an HWC management interpretation centre – funded by FAO and partners – was established in the Mukuvisi woodlands and officially opened in 2014.

In Central Africa, a national strategy and action plan was developed in Gabon, and a subregional workshop was held to adapt the HWC toolkit produced for Southern Africa. This led to the production of a prototype for the Central African subregion in collaboration with CIRAD and the Network of Protected Areas of Central Africa.

In Botswana’s North-West District, in 2019, FAO supported local communities to monitor areas with community scouts, fortify predator-proof traditional bomas and engage local communities in wildlife-based tourism. In Zimbabwe, FAO and partners have helped local authorities and affected communities to formulate a human-wildlife mitigation strategy, promote sustainable natural resource management for alternative livelihoods and vaccinate livestock against Foot and Mouth Disease.

In relation to the formulation of HWC case-specific policies and strategies, technical government officials from 11 African countries came together in 2019 for an FAO-organized multisectoral dialogue in Ghana, where policy priorities and cross-sectoral actions to address human-wildlife conflict were mapped out.

Currently FAO is supporting field initiatives in several countries of the Southern African region, including Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.

last updated:  Wednesday, March 3, 2021