In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Impacts of Conflict
  • Trends and Patterns
  • Media Representation
  • Risk Modeling and Prediction
  • From Conflict to Coexistence

Ecology Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence
Yufang Gao
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 May 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 May 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0216


As a particular kind of human-animal relationship, “human-wildlife conflict” (HWC) emerged as a field of study in the late 1990s and has experienced rapid development since around 2005. The term encapsulates a variety of negative interactions between people and wildlife species from diverse taxonomic groups: in particular, large carnivores and elephants. Since 2000, numerous scientific publications on the topic have been published. Most studies are applied research and have been driven by conservation biologists seeking to develop knowledge for problem solving. Major research topics include trends and patterns of conflicts and their determinants, spatial risk modeling and prediction, and evaluation of the effectiveness of technical solutions. Also, numerous studies have attended to local attitudes and perceptions toward conflicts and the animal species involved. Many researchers have noted the entanglement between human-wildlife conflicts and human-human conflicts. Thus, a growing body of literature applies social science research methods to understand the socioeconomic, political, and cultural contexts in which human-wildlife conflicts are embedded. Likewise, studies have started to address HWC management as an issue of governance. Recently, there has been an increasing interest in replacing the narrative of “human-wildlife conflict” with one of “human-wildlife coexistence” in both academic and public discourses. Nevertheless, there remain important issues concerning the conceptualization of what “conflict” and “coexistence” are.

General Overviews

The topic of human-wildlife conflict is complex and concerns multiple disciplines such as conservation biology, political ecology, anthropology, and human geography. To understand how this field of study emerged, Messmer 2000 is a good starting point. Madden 2004 summarizes the recommendations from a workshop organized in the Fifth IUCN World Parks Congress. The definition of “human-wildlife conflict” offered in this article is widely cited. The edited volume Woodroffe, et al. 2005 has played a vital role in establishing HWC as a field of study. Knight 2001 is an important read on the anthropological perspective on conflicts between people and wildlife. For the human dimensions of wildlife management, a good starting point is Manfredo 2008. The edited volume Redpath, et al. 2015 is useful as it synthesizes a variety of disciplinary approaches to HWC and its management. The current state of scholarship is summarized in Nyhus 2016 and Pooley, et al. 2017. The website IUCN SSC Task Force on Human-Wildlife Conflict offers selected up-to-date bibliographies on the topic.

  • IUCN SSC Human-Wildlife Conflict Task Force.

    A website created by the IUCN SSC Task Force on Human-Wildlife Conflict, an expert advisory group established in 2016. Its online resource library offers useful bibliographies classified by key topics and key species. Many articles can be downloaded directly from the website.

  • Knight, J. 2001. Natural enemies: People-wildlife conflicts in anthropological perspective. London: Routledge.

    An edited volume compiled by a group of anthropologists working on human-wildlife conflicts. Offers excellent insights into the social and cultural aspects of human-wildlife interactions.

  • Madden, F. 2004. Creating coexistence between humans and wildlife: Global perspectives on local efforts to address human-wildlife conflict. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 9.4: 247–257.

    DOI: 10.1080/10871200490505675

    A summary of the recommendations from the workshop—“Creating Coexistence Between Humans and Wildlife: Global Perspectives on Local Efforts to Address Human-Wildlife Conflict”—held during the Fifth IUCN World Parks Congress. A definition of “human-wildlife conflict” was offered, which is frequently cited.

  • Manfredo, M. J. 2008. Who Cares About Wildlife? New York: Springer.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-77040-6

    A book on the human dimensions of wildlife management. Draws from multiple social sciences perspectives to examine human-wildlife relationships at individual and societal/cultural levels.

  • Messmer, T. A. 2000. The emergence of human-wildlife conflict management: Turning challenges into opportunities. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 45.3–4: 97–102.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0964-8305(00)00045-7

    An early-view paper on human-wildlife conflict. Useful for understanding the history of the field.

  • Nyhus, P. J. 2016. Human-wildlife conflict and coexistence. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 41:143–171.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-environ-110615-085634

    A comprehensive review of the current status of scholarship on human-wildlife conflict and coexistence.

  • Pooley, S., M. Barua, W. Beinart, et al. 2017. An interdisciplinary review of current and future approaches to improving human–predator relations. Conservation Biology 31.3: 513–523.

    DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12859

    A review by a group of authors trained in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

  • Redpath, S. M., R. J. Gutiérrez, K. A. Wood, and J. C. Young, eds. 2015. Conflicts in conservation: Navigating towards solutions. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    An edited volume offering the perspectives of different disciplines on conservation conflicts. Includes cases studies demonstrating different approaches to conflict management.

  • Woodroffe, R., S. Thirgood, and A. Rabinowitz, eds. 2005. People and wildlife: Conflict or co-existence? Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    An important volume that has significantly contributed to the popularization of the term “human-wildlife conflict,” thereby establishing it as a popular subject of conservation research in the following decade.

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