Human-wildlife conflict in Africa

WWF and FAO innovative programmes to address issue

Alex Rose-Innes

Human-wildlife conflicts (HWC) in Africa had historically resulted in loss of human life which is the most severe manifestation of the conflict according to World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). In Tanzania, where the highest occurrence of lion attacks had been reported at least 563 people were killed in 14 years.

The Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) did a baseline survey in Binga, Zimbabwe, across 63 villages to understand the situation. According to a presentation at the recent 22nd African Forestry and Wildlife Commission’s conference, 95% of more than 800 interviewees had, in their live time, been affected by human-wildlife conflict, 44% of the livestock of these poor communities had been destroyed and 33% of subsistence crops were decimated. Only 17% said that fear drove them to kill wildlife.

Short- and long term interventions were identified,  such as strengthening coordination among villages, reducing poaching levels by half and ensuring proper management and training structures to reduce crop and livestock destruction.

The FAO dialogue regarding wildlife protection included Botswana, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, the DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Current efforts to manage HWC, infectious diseases and design actionable steps to address country-specific priorities, were on the agenda of the multi-sectoral dialogue. It was established that lack of stand-alone policies and strategies addressing HWC​were the biggest problems in managing this unique African natural resource. Capacity shortcomings such as not enough people and lack of financial resources, technical capacity and knowledge pointed to the HWC not being properly addressed.

The dialogue also found that poor enforcement of wildlife laws, lack of monitoring and incident-reporting systems and coordination mechanisms adversely affected existing ad hoc programmes. More inclusive stakeholder platforms were also needed. Mostly, education and training of willing populations and communities should be undertaken as a priority.