Human-wildlife conflict under climate change

30.07.2021
Human-wildlife conflict—defined here as direct interactions between humans and wildlife with adverse outcomes—costs the global economy billions of dollars annually, threatens human lives and livelihoods, and is a leading cause of biodiversity loss. These clashes largely stem from the co-occurrence of humans and wildlife seeking limited resources in shared landscapes and often has unforeseen consequences. For example, large carnivore species like leopards may prey upon livestock and disrupt human livelihoods, leading to retaliatory killings that can drive wildlife decline, zoonotic disease outbreaks, and child labor practices. As dire as these conflicts have been, climate change is intensifying human-wildlife conflict by exacerbating resource scarcity and forcing people and wildlife to share increasingly crowded spaces. Consequently, human-wildlife conflict is rising in frequency and severity, but the complex connections among climate dynamics, ecological dynamics, and social dynamics contributing to the heightened conflict have yet to be fully appreciated.

Both extreme climate events and directional climate change have the potential to alter the dynamics of human-wildlife conflict. Acute climate events can cause rapid changes in resource availability that drive strong behavioral and spatial responses in animals and people, leading to increased co-occurrence and competition. In terrestrial systems, droughts in particular have intensified some of the most visible conflicts. For example, from 1986 to 1988, a severe drought in India brought about by an extreme El Niño led to a sharp decline in vegetation productivity; loss of food drove elephants to new human-dominated areas, which led to rapid increases in crop damage and fatal attacks on people. The same drought event in India saw a marked increase in livestock losses to lions, and human fatalities from lion attacks rose by more than 600% in one region to 6.7 deaths per year following the drought. More recently in 2018, a prolonged drought in Botswana saw some of the highest incidences of livestock depredations by large carnivores on record, compounding drought-induced food and economic insecurity in agricultural and pastoral communities.

Similar connections between climate events and conflicts are occurring in marine systems. For instance, anomalously warm water temperatures off the South African coast drove changes in prey availability that displaced great white sharks into areas of high human use; the increase in spatial overlap between people and sharks led to a nearly fourfold increase in shark attacks within a single year. A similar increase in spatial overlap that resulted in heightened conflict occurred in 2014 to 2016 off the US West Coast, when an intense marine heat wave drove changes in both large-whale distributions and fisheries management, leading to an unprecedented number of whale entanglements in fishing gear. Not only did these entanglements cause high rates of whale mortality, but subsequent management restrictions have threatened millions of dollars in lost fishery revenue.

Although extreme climate events often create dramatic conflicts, long-term warming is also producing conflicts with interconnected consequences for people and wildlife. In a notable example, over a 30-year period in Canada's Hudson Bay, human–polar bear conflicts involving property damage, life-threatening encounters, or bear killings have more than tripled as sea ice has declined and polar bears have spent more time on land. In the Himalayas, warming-induced vegetation changes at high elevations have driven the bharal or blue sheep to lower elevations, where they forage on crops, which affects the livelihoods of local subsistence agricultural producers. Simultaneously, the redistribution of bharal has also drawn their primary predator, snow leopards, to lower elevations, leading to increased livestock depredation and retaliatory killing of leopards. In other examples, crop foraging, livestock depredation or competition, and human-wildlife encounters are inversely correlated with interannual rainfall as a result of reduced food and water availability, and declining rainfall trends in parts of the globe continue to create more frequent and intense conflicts. Even as climate change restricts resource availability in many contexts, climate-driven expansion of the human footprint further forces people and animals to share spaces and can create new conflicts—for example, agricultural expansion into previously unproductive or inaccessible areas is significantly associated with rises in human-wildlife conflict.

By investigating the interrelated consequences of climate change on wildlife and human populations, we can better anticipate undesired outcomes and identify how human interventions can mitigate cascading ecological and social dynamics. Climate impacts on human-wildlife conflict do not act in isolation—among other factors, socioeconomic drivers such as land-use change and demographic processes such as rising human populations or changes in predator and prey populations play major roles in determining the frequency, scale, and distribution of conflicts. Thus, illuminating and ultimately addressing the interconnections between climate change and human-wildlife conflict requires a coupled socioecological systems approach, drawing from fields as diverse as ecology, global change biology, human demography, political science, public policy, history, and economics.

Although the impact of climate change on human-wildlife conflict has arguably received relatively little research attention, governmental bodies are increasingly recognizing this phenomenon and developing forward-looking policies to explicitly incorporate climate into the management of certain conflicts. For example, the state of California in the US recently implemented a Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program that assimilates climatic, oceanographic, biological, and economic indices to inform dynamic fisheries management to reduce the risk of whale entanglements. Knowledge of climate impacts on human-wildlife conflict can also aid long-term planning efforts and public outreach. For instance, livestock compensation programs, one of the most widely implemented tools to mitigate human-carnivore conflict, could plan funding allocations to anticipate higher spending in years with anomalous climate conditions. Furthermore, given early warning from climate predictions or emerging efforts to predict human-wildlife conflicts using artificial intelligence, governments or nongovernmental organizations can educate and warn the public about possible increased interactions with wildlife.

As climate change continues to drive both increased climate variability and directional change, climate-driven human-wildlife conflict can be expected to be a recurring challenge. To protect wildlife and humans alike, it is vital that a diverse body of research and institutions considers the role of a changing climate in shaping the complex socioecological dynamics of conflict.

Source - https://science.sciencemag.org
RISK EVENTS

Europe - Around 66,000 ha damaged - 23 million euros in damages

02.07.2021

While Vereinigte Hagelversicherung VVaG reported 30,000 hectares damaged just a few days ago, this figure has more than doubled within a few days. A good 66,000 hectares were registered for regulation from June 18 to 25. This is due to so-called supercells, which came from France through Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to Austria and the Czech Republic, causing hailstorms over a length of several hundred kilometers. Local heavy rainfall with enormous amounts of rain from so-called "water bombs" and hailstones the size of tennis balls caused damage to almost all crops, often with total losses. On June 22 and again on June 24, the damage area stretched from Lake Starnberg via Munich to Passau. In Baden-Württemberg, the Neckar-Alb region was hardest hit on June 21 and, just two days later, the strip from Freiburg via Reutlingen to Esslingen. A locally intense area of damage extended along the North Sea coast in the Groningen-Norden-Aurich triangle on both the Dutch and German sides of the border. In addition, abroad, the polder areas on the IJsselmeer and the Baltic region were particularly affected. After the first surveys, Vereinigte Hagel now expects damage of about 20 to 23 million euros, a doubling compared to the beginning of last week. Supercells and what they are about - currently no end in sight The background to the now considerably higher damage figures are so-called supercells, which have a much higher damage potential than ordinary thunderstorms due to their rotation and longevity. "Their most important feature is the so-called "mesocyclone," a powerful rotating updraft. It creates a negative pressure on the ground so that, like a vacuum cleaner, warm and energetic air can be constantly sucked in at the ground and reach the upper edge of the troposphere (above 10 km altitude). There the warm air is sucked in and there is also the danger of possible tornadoes. Subsequently, in the area of the sinking cold air, it is not uncommon for extreme downbursts to reach the hurricane range. Over time, supercells develop a momentum of their own that prevents the sinking cold air (as compensation for the rising warm air) from entering the warm air area. Thus, the mesocyclone is fed with warm air for several hours. Due to the longevity and massive power of the rotating updraft, hailstones can be flung into the air several times, growing into large hailstones. From Monday through Thursday, conditions in southern Germany were ideal for these rotating monsters. A warm and humid air mass was stored in the lower atmosphere, so to speak the fuel for the engine of the rotating mesocyclones. In addition, the wind near the ground came from an easterly to northeasterly direction (which favored suction), veered nearly 180° to the southwest up to an altitude of about 5 kilometers, and increased significantly. In short, there was sufficient directional and velocity shear. This is a basic requirement for the formation of rotation in the updraft region and helps to prevent the sinking cold air from reaching the front of the thunderstorm cell." And it's set to continue. The DWD forecasts heavy thunderstorms in the south and southwest of Germany on Monday evening, as well as on Tuesday. Experts prepared for this, because in June or July such weather phenomena are not uncommon, as Vereinigte Hagel knows from almost 200 years of experience. Source - https://www.freshplaza.com

26.08.2021

India - Crop loss imminent as IMD rules out rainfall till August-end in Odisha

With the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday ruling out the possibility of any significant rainfall in the State till the end of August, drought seems to have become imminent. IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra told media persons that 27 districts of the State have received 33 per cent less than the normal rainfall from June to August and deficit rainfall in August was 55 per cent. 

26.08.2021

Germany - 2021 wheat crop to fall 3.6% after adverse weather

Germany's 2021 wheat crop of all types is expected to fall 3.6% on the year to 21.37 million tonnes after poor weather, according to estimates released by the agriculture ministry on Wednesday. Crops suffered from swings in weather, with a cold spring followed by a hot, dry start to the summer and then unwelcome harvest-time rain and storms, the ministry said in preliminary forecasts for the 2021 harvest. 

26.08.2021

Egypt - Weather has caused a reduction in the mango harvest

There’s still a few more months left in the Egyptian mango season, but the year has brought significant challenges. The weather resulted in 30% less production this year, and the heat could be a threat to other Egyptian produce as well. Demand has been solid, but the lower harvest has resulted in a price increase. 

26.08.2021

USA - Severe weather destroys thousands of acres of crop in Fairbank

Thousands of acres of corn and soybean in Fairbank were destroyed Tuesday night after severe storms rolled through eastern Iowa. A clearer picture of the scale of destruction was made clear on Wednesday. Adrienna Olson with the Buchanan County Farm Service Agency says only a few reports from Fairbank and Hazelton Township have been reported. They include corn and soybean damage. 

26.08.2021

USA - Heat bears down on California grapes

California grape growers continue to contend with heat and drought issues. “There is ample volume of red and green seedless. There will be some shortages though I imagine,” says Philippe Markarian of Fresno, CA-based Mirabella Farms. “We won’t see them at the moment but it will be on red and black seedless grapes. 

26.08.2021

India - Farmers in Erode urged to insure crops for Kharif season

The district administration has asked the farmers in the district to insure crops under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) for Kharif season 2021 so that they can get relief for crop loss due to natural calamities, pest attack or disease outbreak in the current rabi season. 

24.08.2021

Online Agroinsurance Conference to be held on October 4-5, 2021

Due to the concerns around health safety of conference participants and in accordance with the guidance from the Georgian health authorities, AgroInsurance is forced to reschedule Conference to year 2022. More detailed information about new dates and arrangements will be provided in February 2022. Notwithstanding another reschedule of the Conference, AgroInsurance is committed to conduct the online webinar with 2 sessions on October 4-5, 2021. 

24.08.2021

Malaysia - Sarawak Disaster Management Committee to assist durian farmers

The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee is intent on working out a mechanism for durian farmers in areas under Covid-19 lockdown to bring out their fruits to the market. Its chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said he would discuss with the divisional health department to work out a suitable arrangement.