What is the issue?
Wildlife can pose a direct threat to the safety, livelihoods and wellbeing of people. For example, when elephants forage on crops, seals damage fishing nets or jaguars kill livestock, people can lose their livelihoods. Retaliation against the species blamed often ensues.
The term human-wildlife conflict has traditionally been applied only to these negative interactions between people and wildlife, but this implies deliberate action by wildlife species and ignores the conflicts between groups of people about what should be done to resolve the situation.
The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Human-Wildlife Conflict & Coexistence Specialist Group defines human-wildlife conflict as: struggles that emerge when the presence or behaviour of wildlife poses an actual or perceived, direct and recurring threat to human interests or needs, leading to disagreements between groups of people and negative impacts on people and/or wildlife.
Human-wildlife conflicts are becoming more frequent, serious and widespread because of human population growth, agricultural expansion, infrastructure development, climate change and other drivers of habitat loss. Human-wildlife conflicts can occur wherever wildlife and human populations overlap, so any factor that forces wildlife and people into closer contact makes conflicts more likely.
Much work to date has focussed on interventions to reduce impacts on people and retaliation against wildlife such as creating barriers, deploying deterrents or moving wildlife. In the absence of consultative, collaborative processes with stakeholders, these measures often have limited success.