Human-wildlife conflict: Overlapping habitats
Nowadays, climate change and environmental protection are surely two of the most crucial topics. Particularly the human-wildlife conflict demonstrates the effects of environmental changes and a growing world population on them.
For many scientists, activists and politicians, there’s no doubt that climate change and the protection of our environment are the most urgent issues of this century. The effects of changes in the environment and the influence of a growing world population on these can be seen particularly well in the so-called human-wildlife conflict.
In general, this term refers to the interaction between humans and wildlife that results in a negative influence on humans or wildlife.
World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) describes the human-wildlife conflict as follows: “Any interaction between humans and wildlife that results in negative impacts on human social, economic or cultural life, on the conservation of wildlife populations, or on the environment”.
The main cause of this conflict is the territorial overlapping of human populations with natural areas, mostly due to the increased spread of humans and their invasion of wildlife habitats.
The anthropogenic spread is reflected, for example, in the expansion of cities, the development of new areas for the extraction of raw materials or the expansion of tourism and leisure facilities. The resulting habitat loss for many animals forces them to search for alternative resources and thus venture further and further into human settlement areas. The resulting conflicts are manifold: injuries or killing of animals or humans, damage to property, competition for resources, damage to harvests, destruction of the environment, collapse of wildlife populations, etc.
The area of environmental management deals with strategies for minimizing human-wildlife conflict. This includes the comprehensive protection of human and animal life, the safeguarding of animal populations and habitat protection measures. For example, the designation of nature reserves or the use of protective fences can be a means of avoiding conflict situations. In rural areas, where human settlements are much more integrated into nature than in cities, for example, these conflict management strategies are not always an easy task.
As a volunteer in an elephant conservation project you can become active in mitigating prevailing human-wildlife-conflicts. Natucate’s conservation project in Namibia operates to solve the local human-wildlife conflict. In Namibia’s Damaraland, the native desert elephants, in their search for water sources, enture further and further into human settlements to drink from the water reservoirs that humans claim for themselves. This leads to repeated collisions. The aim of the project is to establish a water supply that offers both humans and animals undisturbed access to water sources and thus prevents conflicts in the future.