Human-wildlife interaction, livelihoods, and climate in a transfrontier conservation landscape I

Authors: Andrea E Gaughan*, University of Louisville, Jonathan Salerno , Colorado State University, Karen Bailey, University of Colorado - Boulder, Forrest R Stevens, University of Louisville, Tom Hilton, Colorado State University, Lin Cassidy, Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Michael D. Drake, University of Colorado - Boulder, Narcisa G. Pricopw, University of North Carolina - Wilmington, Joel Hartter, University of Colorado - Boulder
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Africa, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: Human-wildlife systems, adaptive livelihoods, food security, climate, transboundary conservation, crop depredation, community-based conservation, southern Africa
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 44
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Human-wildlife interactions impact people living in conservation landscapes, while also threatening conservation goals. While impacts may be unavoidable when human and wildlife land use overlap, scant large-scale human data exist quantifying the direct costs of wildlife to livelihoods. In a landscape of global importance for wildlife conservation in southern Africa, we quantify costs for people living with wildlife using a fundamental measure of human wellbeing, food security, and we test whether existing livelihood strategies may buffer certain households against crop depredation by wildlife, predominantly elephants. To do this, we estimate Bayesian multilevel statistical models using multicounty household data (n=711), and interpret model results in the context of spatial data from participatory land use mapping and against a backdrop of climate variability for the dryland region. We find that crop depredation is widespread, and associated with significant declines in food security. These declines will likely intensify, as climate analyses show trends toward shorter and drier growing seasons. The most food insecure households are those relying on gathered food sources and welfare programs; interestingly, in the event of crop depredation by wildlife, these two livelihood sources buffer or reduce the harmful effects of depredation. The presence of buffering strategies suggests that a targeted compensation strategy could benefit the region’s most vulnerable people. Such strategies should be combined with dynamic and spatially-explicit land use planning that may hold potential to reduce the frequency of negative human-wildlife impacts. Quantifying and mitigating the human costs from wildlife are necessary steps in working toward human-wildlife coexistence.

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