A hog in wolf's clothing
Human and wildlife conflict has increased along with expanding human populations, particularly when wildlife endanger humans or their livelihoods. Most research on human-wildlife conflict has focused on the ways tigers, wolves, and other predators impact livestock even though noncarnivores also threaten livestock.
New research by Dr. Shari Rodriguez and Dr. Christie Sampson, both from Clemson University, publishing on August 6 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, examines the effects of these less-studied relationships, particularly for feral hogs and elephants, and the potential consequences of excluding these animals from research focused on mitigating wildlife impacts on livestock.
"Our study highlights the importance of including species not traditionally considered in the livestock protection conversation, and finding similarities in how the effects of non-Carnivora species can be addressed through the same methodologies as species such as wolves, tigers, or lions," says Dr. Rodriguez.
Results show that these species can have significant effects on livelihood by killing young and small livestock and damaging livestock farming infrastructure. They may also affect local communities' perception of the species, which in the case of species of conservation concern such as elephants could potentially reduce people's willingness to support conservation initiatives.
"Sharing experiences across taxa and adopting methodology found to be successful for other [predatory] species may help us to improve the tools we use to promote co-existence and conservation efforts for elephants," reported Dr. Sampson.