What is Human Wildlife Conflict?

Human Wildlife Conflict = Conflict between humans and wildlife that cause damages or interference.

Human Wildlife Conflict consists of any conflict between humans and wildlife that causes damage to humans, wildlife, or property. The conflict between humans and wildlife is not a new concept, it has been present since the beginning of existence of humans and animals. However, the frequency of conflicts involving damage-causing animals has grown, primarily due to the increase in human populations and the expansion of human activities. As humans expand and increase their land use, valuable habitat is taken away from animals, causing conflict over the land between wildlife and humans. Human wildlife conflicts are the result of current socioeconomic and political climates and are often highly debated and sensitive topics because the resources concerned are of economic value and the species involved are often high profile and legally protected.1) Overall, human wildlife conflict can be described as a type of biodiversity conflict which has impacts that deal with direct interactions between humans and wildlife species as well as conflicts between humans themselves over how to manage the impacts between humans and wildlife.2) Human Wildlife Conflict is a complex conservation issue and acknowledging th human dimension is critical for finding solutions to these conflicts.3)

What Causes Human Wildlife Conflict?

The causes of human wildlife are very complex and multifaceted due to the nature of the conflict and the vast number of organisms, communities, and factors involved.

Human Factor

Human activities contribute greatly to the cause of human wildlife conflict. The requirements of human development have been the main cause of human wildlife conflict worldwide due to growing human populations and wildlife competing for the same spaces and resources. The growing human population has lead to degradation of important ecosystems due to increasing land use for food production, energy, and raw materials. Additionally, the necessity for access to freshwater limits the inhabitable areas, increasing interactions between humans and wildlife, therefore increasing opportunities of conflict.4) )

Attitudes and perceptions

Large mammals are seen as threats to safety and food security, and attitudes towards these animals are often very negative. Attitudes are particularly negative near protected areas such as private game reserves and national parks because the presence of wildlife populations inflicts daily costs on local communities. The areas directly adjacent to these parks and reserves are directly interacting with wildlife and see the negative affects of the animals, and poor management and control of park rangers and reserve owners firsthand. Landowners often deliberately kill species they consider a threat with the view of reducing the population or exterminating species within their local area. Overall, wildlife is associated with damage and takes on a very negative view, however, positive views of wildlife are found in association with ecotourism and those who profit from the presence of wildlife.5) )

Specific Activities

Specific activities and trends also lead to the human wildlife conflict, a growing interest in ecotourism and the increasing presence of humans in and near protected areas are increasing the human wildlife conflict. This is not only dangerous for those living in the area full time, but tourists are also affect, as they are often unaware and uneducated on the dangers of wildlife. Additionally, protection and management of wildlife is relatively weak, and as these areas increase in popularity, human wildlife conflict will become more and more apparent.6) )

Habitat Factors

The gradual loss of habitat though habitat degradation, and harvesting indirectly promotes to the human wildlife conflicts. This causes wildlife to be displaced from their natural territory, limiting wildlife to small protected areas. Natural factors such as drought, fire, climate change, and other natural hazards also increase human wildlife conflict. This is due to the decrease and change in natural resources available.

Solutions to Human Wildlife Conflict

A lot of work has been put into addressing, preventing, and solving human wildlife conflicts, but these tasks are not easy or simple. It is important to remember that at the core of the solution to these problems are finding common ground between humans and wildlife, where both can find solutions that lead to mutually beneficial coexistence. It is important to implement change that benefits both animals and people and actively involves the communities. For the work to be most affective, has has to led to an increase in enthusiasm and support of conservation, and has to demonstrate that people can live alongside wildlife while developing sustainable livelihoods.7)

World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund proposes an array of options for addressing human wildlife conflict that are rooted in finding a common ground through a united effort.

  • Land-use Planning = Insuring both humans and animals have the space they need through protecting key areas for wildlife, creating buffer zones, and investing in alternative land uses.8) )
  • Community-Based Natural Resource Management = If people are empowered to manage their relationship with wild animals, these unwanted animals can become allies in brining in income and promoting a higher quality of life.9) )
  • Compensation & Insurance = Government payment or reimbursement for those living in the areas around national parks when conflict occurs.10)
  • Field Based Solutions = practical solutions that can limit the damage done both to humans and human property, and wildlife, by preventing wildlife from entering fields or villages.This can best be achieved through maintaining large in tact ecosystems.11)


Political and legal support is crucial to developing coexistence between humans and wildlife, and it is encouraging to see that governmental policy is increasing. It is also encouraging to see a positive movement toward community ownership of wildlife through conservancies and community projects are increasing. Within the framework of the world’s current environmental crisis, conservationist, government, and businesses need to continue to work globally to develop solutions to enable humans and wildlife to coexist.12)


Education plays a critical role in implementing long term change in the efforts to amend human wildlife conflicts. Education has the power to change people’s perceptions of predators and enable them to focus on the bigger picture issues. This bigger picture approach includes finding solutions to conflict, developing a global perspective, and encouraging an integrated approach to species conservation.13)

Educational programs are best when targeted to specific groups:

  • Children - Children are the future, which makes them important in the development and implementation of new ideas and policies regarding human wildlife conflicts. It is important to start education early on regarding the importance of environmental teaching and perceptions and attitudes towards predators. Raising awareness through education comes in many forms. One that has been particularly effective is through the medium of song and dance, conveying the messages of conservation beyond the traditional approach.14)
  • Farmers - Farmers are often the ones interacting with human wildlife conflict in the most direct and negative ways. One option to help build a positive relationship between farmers and wildlife is through training courses that cover all aspects of farm management. These training courses work to promote tolerance of predators through restored habitat, teach livestock management that encourages non-lethal predator control, and healthy management of wild game populations. This integrated approach has the potential to impact all wildlife outside of formally protected areas, while assisting rural development. The goal is to empower farmers to protect their land and wildlife in an economically sound manner.15)

Where do we go from here?

Human wildlife conflict is an extremely multi faceted, complex, and personal issue that has no clear-cut or easy solution. This is why it is important to raise awareness, continue to search for new solutions, and keep challenging our views on ways humans and wildlife can coexist and thrive together. It is never easy to find solutions to these problems, but to look for new motivations and values for these resources is crucial for developing plans to live in harmony with wildlife. There will always be conflicts between humans and wildlife, but if we can respond to and predict these conflicts more efficiently we will all be better off because of it.

Videos for further information:

2018. Human-Wildlife Conflict. Environment Yukon.
Anthony P., Brandon, Peter Scott, and Alexios Antypas. 2010. Sitting on the Fence? Policies and Practices in Managing Human-wildlife Conflict in Limpopo Province, South Africa.Conservation and Society. 8:3 225-240.
Kansky, Ruth, Martin Kidd, and Andrew T. Knight. 2016. A Wildlife Tolerance Model and Case Study for Understanding Human Wildlife Conflicts. Biological Conservation. 137-145.
Human-Wildlife Conflict: The Issues. Human-wildlife conflict in Africa. 5-36.
10) , 13)
We’re Preventing Clashes Between People and Animals. Retrieved From:
12) , 14)
Marker L., Laurie, and Lorraine K. Boast. 2015. Human-Wildlife Conflict 10 Years Later: Lessons Learned and Their Application to Cheetah Conservation. Human Dimensions of Wildlife. 10:41.