The surprising new way to approach human-wildlife conflict: a new report

The way to solve human-wildlife conflict (HWC) may not be as straightforward as people think. Conflicts are fundamentally social and political issues between people and groups of people, but the language of conflict is often associated with negative interactions between wild animals and people, hence the rise of the common term ‘human-wildlife conflict’. 

As the human population grows and environmental issues such as climate change and habitat degradation escalate, negative interactions between wildlife and people are predicted to increase in both frequency and intensity. This in turn leads to conflicts between groups of people with different interests, values and power. Most often, the people directly affected by the depredations of wild animals have very little of the latter. Such conflicts are widespread, and in some cases seriously threaten the worldwide goals of biodiversity preservation and sustainable development. 

Who makes the decisions where there are negative interactions between wild animals and people? Who writes the rules, and who implements them? Who mediates and what is ‘good’ governance in these circumstances? 

There is a widespread acceptance in some parts of the conservation community that profound changes are required in the way  ‘human-wildlife conflict’ is understood, addressed, and managed. However, there are few visible expressions of this awareness being translated in a practical context. Duan Biggs of Griffith University in Australia is convinced that there are some simple tools that can make a significant difference – especially standards and best practice guidelines –  and the Luc Hoffmann Institute has been incubating his ideas so that they take shape and have impact. As part of this work the institute has been helping Duan and others unpack and analyse what is already going. The new report on ‘The state of knowledge and practice on human-wildlife conflicts’ arises from this analysis. Compiled by leading specialists in the field of HWC, it points the way to developing a standard to guide and improve approaches to HWC globally. 

The report addresses fundamental governance questions and uses existing research on relevant standards from natural resources management and wider conservation practice to advise on the factors to consider and the potential design for a new standard.


Read more about the Navigating Conflict over Iconic Wildlife initiative here. If you would like to contribute to the further development of a new global standard for human-wildlife conflict, please contact Jon Hutton, Director, Luc Hoffmann Institute at jhutton@wwfint.org