01 March 2023
HUMAN-WILDLIFE CONFLICT IS KILLING ANIMALS – WHY ACTION AND COEXISTENCE ARE KEY
Born Free has launched a major new fundraising appeal today, to tackle the growing issue of human-wildlife conflict. As humans and wildlife are forced ever closer together, through competition for natural resources and human development, conflict is becoming more frequent – with often deadly consequences on both sides.
There are eight billion humans on the planet; as a species our influence and impact on the natural world is world is inescapable, and often devastating. From climate change to urbanisation to habitat destruction and pollution – the actions of the human race are leaving an indelible mark on the Earth. Born Free launches its End Wildlife Conflict appeal today, to tackle this issue.
Around the globe humans and wildlife are being forced ever closer together. As that happens there is increasing competition; for food, for water and for the very space needed to exist. The result: an escalation in wildlife conflict so concerning that it is now considered to be one of the most direct threats to wild animal populations.
In Kenya and the Horn of Africa, a brutal four-year drought, the worst in living memory, is now at crisis level. According to current seasonal forecasts, below average rainfall is expected in most parts of the region over the next three months, meaning a record sixth poor season. This unprecedented situation is now threatening humans and wild animals alike. The competition for water resources is fierce and is causing an increase conflict between communities and the endangered African savanna elephant.
Out of necessity elephants are moving towards settlements and farms to seek food and water. When there, the elephants can eat and destroy an entire crop in minutes, wiping out a farmer’s only source of sustenance and income. This is leading to deadly retaliations. In Southern Kenya, the number of elephants being speared by angry villagers has risen sharply.
Without action, the problem is only going to get worse.
But there is action. Born Free is already working across Kenya to practically promote coexistence and create an environment where communities and these incredible animals can live, and thrive, in harmony.
For example, in Meru National Park, Born Free is working with small scale and subsistence farmers to protect against crop raiding from elephants. Elephants are known to actively avoid bees, so field teams are constructing ‘beehive fences’ – an effective, nature-based strategy to reducing conflict between elephants and farmers. The simple solution also comes with the added advantage of providing a much-needed secondary income for the farmers who are able to sell the honey.
The situation is replicated around the world in all environments and eco-systems where humans and wildlife are being pushed together.
In India, the tiger’s natural home is being cut down for wood, farms, roads and railways. So, despite the country being home to the world’s largest tiger population, only 11% of the animal’s original habitat there remains. That that is left is now in an increasingly fragmented and degraded state.
Fewer forests mean less prey and desperate tigers, struggling to find food the animals target grazing livestock. Killing of livestock leads to retaliation from desperate farmers and local people, and the consequences can be fatal for both human and animals alike. Tigers are snared, shot, poisoned, or electrocuted; people are attacked and killed.
But once again there is an answer and there is action. Born Free supports the work of Tiger Ambassadors. Local people employed to educate communities in India on tiger safety and inform them of importance of protecting tigers as a keystone species for the ecosystem.
Human-wildlife conflict is escalating and spreading around the world, but humane and often simple solutions are out there. Coexistence between communities and wild animals can happen, all that’s needed is action.
For more information and to donate to Born Free’s work to end human-wildlife conflict, follow the links below.
Image © George Logan