Mitigation of Human-Wildlife Conflicts

Human-wildlife conflicts are common across the globe. In every corner of the world, humans compete with animals on the use of resources such as space or food when they expand their activities. Many mitigation strategies, that have been proposed and tested, fail or work only in theory, with the effect that killing or removing wildlife turns out to be a notable driver for biodiversity loss. GAIA works towards efficient and balanced mitigation strategies for human-wildlife conflicts by analysing the (spatial) behaviour of carnivores with the help of big data and artificial intelligence, and by embedding science in relevant stakeholder communities.

The vast majority of the world’s large animals, particularly large mammals and carnivores, live in what we call the wild – distant from humans and with limited interaction with them. However, as humans have been expanding their activities over the planet, contacts and conflicts of interest are inevitable. Humans and wild animals compete over the use of space and other resources, getting into conflict about the security of crops, livestock, and even human lives. As a consequence of human-wildlife conflicts (HWC), many animals are being removed or killed, which is one of the main drivers for the decline in many species of the iconic large carnivores on all continents.

GAIA builds on the decade-long experience of Leibniz-IZW wildlife biologists in researching the spatial ecology of cheetahs and in implementing evidence-based solutions to the farmer-cheetah conflict in Namibia. An extensive set of movement data of the rare cat, which occasionally preys on cattle calves and was therefore removed or killed by farmers, allowed for a deeper understanding of the species’ spatial behaviour and identifying hotspots of activities. By avoiding these hotspots, farmers were able to significantly reduce their losses, and the conflict was solved. The combination of elaborate technologies for wildlife ecology and the integration into the stakeholder community – based on transparency and trust – proved pivotal to the success.

Establishing long-term research and understanding carnivore behaviour based on continuous and high-resolution data is a core element of GAIA’s mission and vision. It continues and expands the research on the cheetah case, newly establishes a sound database on lion behaviour in the Etosha region, advancing the understanding of carnivore behaviour and interaction. Employing artificial intelligence to analyse massive datasets will contribute to these goals.

Dr Jörg Melzheimer
Wildlife biologist and project head at Leibniz-IZW
+4930 5168 462
Rubén Portas
Field scientist in Namibia at Leibniz-IZW
+4930 5168 327