UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Human-wildlife conflict : the hidden cost of conservation Le, Anh Nguyet


While living close to wild flora and fauna provides significant use and non-use values to human, conflict with wildlife - manifesting as crop raiding, livestock depredation, and direct encounter resulting in human death and injury - threatens human-wildlife coexistence. Estimating the costs and understanding the spatial patterns of human-wildlife conflict inform policymakers of the true costs of conservation and help identify mechanisms underlying human-wildlife conflict. The findings from these two exercises will allow us to calculate the direct costs of living in proximity to wildlife reserves in India. In the first part of this thesis, I estimate the mean species-specific costs for households suffering damages from 15 major wildlife species in India. Utilizing estimates from the literature on the value of human life in India and survey data of 5,196 Indian households near 11 wildlife reserves, we find that costs from human casualties overwhelm crop and livestock damages for all species associated with human fatalities. The overall costs fluctuate across reserves mostly due to a variation of human casualties, suggesting that effective mitigation of human-wildlife conflicts requires a greater emphasis on mitigating human casualties from interaction with wildlife. In the second part, I study and map the spatial patterns of conflict between humans and four important species of India: the Asian elephant, the wild boar, the Bengal tiger, and the common leopard. This section uses data of 2958 households around 7 out of 11 wildlife reserves studied. Indicators of human activities are found to be important predictors of human-wildlife conflict, except for highly adaptable, wide-ranging and nocturnal species such as the leopard. Though both significant, the presence of a wildlife-agricultural interface is more influential than cropland cover in predicting conflict with the Asian elephant and wild boar. Policy implications of these two studies include (i) priority should be given to the mitigation of incidence of human death and injury by mitigating conflicts with the elephant, tiger, and leopard; (ii) maintenance of contiguous habitat units, for example, by aggregating small and scattered agricultural lands into large agricultural zones, is imperative in reducing conflicts with the herbivores.

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