The world is filled with millions of different creatures, many of them carnivorous. Humans, of course, occupy a large amount of space on Earth. However, we are not the only carnivores in existence. Conservation of wildlife is a chief concern in the world and, in order to conserve the lives of other carnivorous species, humans must learn how to effectively and safely coexist in the same space as other carnivores. Unfortunately, many larger carnivorous species cannot be contained to a preservation area, and are therefore put into dangerous situations when they encounter humans. A recently published study takes a look at how humans and other carnivores can peacefully occupy the same space.
The study was done in several different countries, with several different species, such as wolves and bears. The researchers were attempting to discover what factors could be changed to make humans and animals both respond less aggressively when encountering the other. Both would have to adapt. The researchers found that there is an inherent capability of each species to adapt to inhabitants of the other. For example, animal carnivores are able to adapt to living in landscapes that have been altered by humans. Likewise, humans have shown they have the capability of getting used to sharing land with carnivores, whether it means changing the way they look after livestock, or altering cultural practices to make room for other animals.
These adaptations, however, are nonexistent in several parts of the world. People living in areas more populated by humans, such as cities, never have to interact with carnivorous wildlife. This results in undesirable interactions between said wildlife and humans if and when they ever do interact. The initial reaction of humans to such conflict is to eliminate it altogether. We build cities in which carnivorous wildlife only exist in zoos. We ensure that we never encounter animals like wolves and bears in our daily lives.
Researchers on this projects have found that this is one of the worst possible approaches. Unfortunately, when risk is decreased by humans, so are the populations of several different species. Instead, this study suggests that we should focus on how to reduce conflict rather than eliminate it altogether. We therefore have to discover what exactly breeds conflict between humans and wild animals and work on reducing the factors to the best of our ability.
This study is a rude awakening in a world full of people concerned about wildlife, yet unsure how to make more room for other species. I believe that more research can show just how humans and wildlife can peacefully live on the same land by making changes to reduce conflict.