Livestock owners-wildlife Conflict: A Review from India
Authors: Dr. H. R. Meena, Mukesh Kumar and A. P. Verma
Dairy Extension Division, ICAR-NDRI, Karnal-132001


Livestock owners-Wildlife Conflict (LOWC) is a serious threat to the survival of many endangered species in the world and causes both direct and indirect costs for human beings. Conflicts between humans and wildlife is not only a local or regional issue, but must be considered a global raising issue. Human-Wildlife Conflict occurs when wildlife requirements overlap with those of human populations, creating costs both to residents and wild animals (IUCN World Parks Congress, 2003). Depredations on domestic animals are the most common type of livestock owners-wildlife conflict. Wild animals readily kill livestock and other domesticated animals in areas where wild prey are depleted, usually due to hunting, habitat degradation and competition with livestock (Madhusudan & Mishra, C., 2003). Livestock owners-Wildlife Conflict is any negative interaction between wildlife and humans which causes harm, whether it is to the human, livestock, the wild animal or property. Conflict with human is a worldwide issue in conservation of wildlife (Nowell and Jackson, 1996; Bagchi and Mishra, 2004) and more intense in the developing countries where livestock holdings and agriculture are an important part of rural people's livelihoods and incomes. When wild animals enter human-dominated areas, it is not a conflict per se, but such events might be a precursor to conflict and receive considerable attention from local people, who often request intervention from government authorities and, hence, are considered LOWC (Nugraha & Sugardjito 2009; Goodrich et al. 2010) that arises mainly because of the loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitats through human activities such as, logging, animal husbandry, agricultural expansion, and developmental projects (Fernando et al. 2005). With increasing population and pressure on forest areas, human-wildlife interaction and resultant conflict is also increasing (Zubiri & Switzer, 2001) and causes serious economic and social losses by preying on livestock, causing damage to property and general community insecurity, and in exceptional cases, human injury or death (Madhusudan and Mishra, 2003; Distefano, 2005; Ogra and Badola, 2008; Lee, 2011).


In recent day the conflict between wildlife and human is extending owing to increasing human population, loss of natural habitats for wildlife and gradual increase in their population due to successful conservation efforts of Indian government after the implication of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. LOWC has traditionally been viewed to occur 'when the needs and behavior of wildlife impact negatively on the goals of humans or when the goals of humans negatively impact the needs of wildlife' (Madden, 2004). LOWC occurs when humans or wildlife damage or threaten one another in the course of pursuing their needs or interests. It includes wildlife threatens, attacks, injures, or kills humans, as well as cases where wildlife threatens, attacks, injures, or destroys their livestock, crops or property. LOWC moreover occurs when livestock owners intentionally injure, abuse, or kill wildlife because of perceived or actual threats to their property, livelihoods, communities, or family. Agricultural losses, livestock depredation or killing to wildlife can create significant financial losses and hardship for farmers. In India, densely populated human landscapes and wildlife habitats often overlap and the resultant crunch of space and resources adversely affect both humans and wildlife (Madhusudan and Mishra, 2003). Woodroffe et al. (2005) reported in Northern Kenya that Conflicts between wildlife and humans are increasing worldwide, especially in and around protected areas and also revealed that human-carnivore conflicts are universal and people's near ubiquitous negative behaviour to carnivores in the conflicts are a major challenge to biodiversity conservation. Fernando et al. (2005) and Kushwaha & Hazarika (2004) described that the growing human population in Assam and increasing demand for land rights is resulting in continual habitat fragmentation through unsustainable extraction of forest products and agriculture, causing conflict between elephants and people.

Wang and Macdonald (2006) in Bhutan expressed that Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) is a common phenomenon from the ancient times and has become a significant problem throughout the world and also revealed that Subsequent increases in wildlife populations resulted in increased threats to humans, crops, and livestock and also revealed that farmers bear heavy losses in terms of property damage by wildlife; crop loss by direct feeding and destruction; the loss of use of arable land due to fear of crop damage; livestock depredation by wildlife; and harassment, injury, or death of local people. Parker et al. (2007) reported in Africa that Elephants are more dangerous than other herbivore species, causing more human deaths and injuries and as a result they often elicit fear in rural communities. Kilpatrick et al. (2009) in America revealed that Interactions between wildlife and domestic livestock have created conflict for centuries because of pathogen transmission, competition for space and food, and predation.

Dickman (2010) identified in UK that despite decades of research and significant financial resources invested, we still lack a fundamental understanding of which ecological and social factors drive human-wildlife conflicts. MOEF (2011) reported that Human-elephant conflict is major threat to the Asian elephant. Nearly 400 people and 100 elephants lose their lives due to this conflict every year. Singh, YV (2012) reported in Vidarbha Region of Maharashtra that decreased prey base in protected area which was caused by poaching of herbivores has resulted in carnivores moving out of forest in search of prey and indulge in cattle lifting.

Human-Wildlife Conflict Manifestation around the world

Human-wildlife conflict is a global problem that is experienced especially in areas where people and wildlife share limited resources (Musimbi, 2013) and also shares boundaries (Eniang et al., 2011). Human-wildlife conflict is more intensive in developing countries where agriculture is a major source of livelihood for the rural people (Eniang et al., 2011; Musimbi, 2013). Wildlife damage represents a very real and tangible threat to livelihoods in terms of personal injury, crop and livestock losses, and property damage (Happold 1995; Emerton 2001; Choudhury 2004; Dublin & Hoare 2004; Madden 2004; Graham et al. 2005).



A set of global trends has contributed to the escalation of LOWC worldwide. These can be grouped into livestock grazing in vicinity of protected areas, human population growth, land use transformation, species habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, growing interest in ecotourism and increasing access to nature reserves, increasing livestock populations and competitive exclusion of wild herbivores, abundance and distribution of wild prey, increasing wildlife population.

Livestock grazing: Livestock grazing in forests leads to human-wildlife conflict as carnivores are attracted towards the easy prey and become direct enemies of livestock graziers. Grazing by livestock has severely threatened our wildlife and their habitats in various ways. The most noticeable effect is the decline of wild herbivore populations as they have to compete with livestock for their food source.

Growing Human population: Human population growth has lead to encroachment into wildlife habitats, constriction of species into marginal habitat patches and direct competition with local communities (IUCN, World Park Congress, 2003). Many settlements have come up near the peripheries of protected areas, encroaching the forest areas and using it for their own benefit.

Habitat fragmentation and shrinkage - All the aforesaid reasons contribute to fragmentation of large habitats and shrinking sizes of forest patches. This makes that landscape unviable for wild animals as their needs are not fulfilled. As a result of which they wander in nearby areas searching for resources.


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About Author / Additional Info:
I am currently working as Senior Scientist in Dairy Extension Division, ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001 Haryana (India). I have also worked with ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar-243122 Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh (India) as Scientist for 10 year. Also a recipient of the ICAR's prestigious "The Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Outstanding Extension Scientist Award" in social science.