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Human casualties are the dominant cost of human–wildlife conflict in India
Saturday, 2021/02/27 | 07:42:38

Sumeet Gulati, Krithi K. Karanth, Nguyet Anh Le, and Frederik Noack; PNAS February 23, 2021 118 (8) e1921338118


Figure: Crop and livestock damages by species.Predictions, based on the median regression described in Materials and Methods, are depicted for crop and livestock damages by species.


Successful conservation of our dwindling wildlife involves a reduction in human costs—including human casualties, crops, livestock, and other property—from interactions with wild species. We analyze survey data from households incurring wildlife damage in India to illustrate that the cost from human casualties overwhelms all other property losses. Our results imply the following: 1) Considering the cost of human casualties while estimating costs from wildlife conflict is essential. 2) Compensation for damage incurred from interactions with wildlife in India is insufficient. And 3) conservation policies and organizations should refocus (if they are not already doing so) their efforts on reducing human death and injuries from interactions with wildlife. Reducing the costs from human–wildlife conflict, mostly borne by marginal rural households, is a priority for conservation. We estimate the mean species-specific cost for households suffering damages from one of 15 major species of wildlife in India. Our data are from a survey of 5,196 households living near 11 wildlife reserves in India, and self-reported annual costs include crop and livestock losses and human casualties (injuries and death). By employing conservative estimates from the literature on the value of a statistical life (VSL), we find that costs from human casualties overwhelm crop and livestock damages for all species associated with fatalities. Farmers experiencing a negative interaction with an elephant over the last year incur damages on average that are 600 and 900 times those incurred by farmers with negative interactions with the next most costly herbivores: the pig and the nilgai. Similarly, farmers experiencing a negative interaction with a tiger over the last year incur damage that is on average 3 times that inflicted by a leopard and 100 times that from a wolf. These cost differences are largely driven by differences in the incidence of human death and casualties. Our estimate of costs fluctuates across reserves, mostly due to a variation of human casualties. Understanding the drivers of human casualties and reducing their incidence are crucial to reducing the costs from human–wildlife conflict.


See https://www.pnas.org/content/118/8/e1921338118

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