The Conflict between Human Interests & the Environment: the Situation with Leopards

Find an example of an endangered species that illustrates the conflicts between human interests and the environment. Do you perceive the situation as a problem or as a mystery? Explain why?

Humans are strongly dependant upon the natural resources and natural environment. At the same time there is a serious human-wildlife conflict, which is related to the interaction between wild animals and people. Humans have often negative effect upon existence of wild animals and their environment and at the same time, wild animals are able to cause serious problems for humans and their resources. The conflict generally leads to reduction of resources of lives to humans and wild animals. Humans could lose their crops, their property, their health, whereas a lot of animals become extinct, as they are killed for various purposes or their natural conditions are spoilt. Sometimes humans are convinced that it is necessary to kill some animals in order to prevent future conflict, this is certainly not the best option for the nature. Under the endangered species of plants or animals, usually those microorganisms are understood, which are at risk of imminent extinction or extirpation. (Burton 1998). Extirpated species disappear in concrete regions due to human factor, but still continue to exist in other areas. Researching the situation with leopards, it is possible to trace an example of an endangered species that illustrates the conflicts between human interests and the environment, which is a problem and not a mystery, as it could be explained by various reasons and needs solution.

Leopards are characterized as adaptable predators, they live close to humans in case they are able to find food and shelter. For example in many areas of India there are a lot of leopards, who live quite close to humans and with low level of conflict. “They are capable of living and breeding even in degraded forests, plantations and croplands, and manage to survive on a variety of small wild prey, domestic dogs, livestock and feral animals.’ (Gaworecki 2017). Humans in those areas are relatively tolerant towards the fact of close presence of leopards, although they bear potential dangers for people. But the situation is not similar everywhere. For example in Gurgaon, in Mandawar village, when a leopard ran out to the streets in 2016 and attacked several individuals there, the villagers started to beat it. Although the wildlife officials have arrived, they were not equipped adequately, namely they lacked the needed net and the tranquillizer shots. Finally, irrespective of their demands to leave the animal, the villagers beat it to death. One more situation took place in Bangalore, when a leopard had entered the school there. The forest department representatives had the needed equipment, but due to the presence of around 5000 humans there, they could not carry out this risky operation and it took them at least 10 hours to catch the animal and let it out at a different place. In order to solve the problem with leopards, the program of translocation of the animals was developed. It was launched in 2001 with the aim to relocate the animals and mitigate the conflict. First only 29 leopards were captured and taken away from the human densely populated areas, then they were released in other areas, natural forests of the region. The sites, which were chosen for relocation, were less densely populated and there were roads for transporting of leopards. Later more leopards were taken there from other districts for release. “The translocation resulted in an increase in leopard attacks on people in the vicinity of the release sites.  In the three year translocation period from 2001 to 2003, leopard attacks rose to 17 per year (from an average of 4 per year for the 8-year period before translocation began), a whopping 325% increase.  Attacks on livestock too went up substantially.” (Gaworecki 2017). The study had proved that there was an evident increase of the number of attacks of leopards after the translocations. Humans were attacked by translocated leopards in the sanctuaries and close to them. Some other studies showed that in cases of far away releases of leopards, there were less attacks in comparison to the cases, when they were released in close areas. On the basis of these studies it is possible to conclude that the translocation programs, as the means for solving of the animal-human conflicts, have a number of disadvantages. First of all animals could return to their usual areas of location, if they were translocated not far away. Leopards and other carnivores are territorial, which means that even after translocation they tend to return to human dominated landscapes and participate in conflicts. In other words removal of animals from one area to the other does not always contribute to decrease of conflict, the conflict could be simply transferred to other areas or even reinforced due to increase of aggression by the animals because of the experienced stress. Such incidents are only examples, certainly they are not rare, and they urge the government of all countries to consider the problem of wild animals’ extinction and work out the appropriate mechanisms for solving it.

In order to find effective alternatives, it is important to research the major reasons of human-animal conflict. If generalized, the reasons could be limited to encroachment of humans in wildlife environment with the aim of survival and development. Such situation is risky for both sides of the conflict. Leopard conflict is one of the widespread ones and could be used as vivid example of the reality of the human-animal conflict. It seems to be difficult to secure peaceful co-existence of leopards and humans, especially in highly populated regions. In reality, the results of the research show that even in high human density areas, it is possible to prevent the attacks on humans and domestic animals from wild animals. Often conflicts in wildlife take place because of abnormal behavior of wild animals, cases of their aggressiveness. The desire of humans for further development could be easily explained and understood, at the same time it should not be associated with negative ecological outcomes in the ecosystem. Most of the development activities have their direct and indirect impact upon the wild life, the place of habitat of wild animals. Thus conflicts become inevitable. Other reasons of human-animal conflict are related to the situations, when animals cause damage to agriculture or property of people. “Human population growth, land use transformation, species loss of habitat, eco-tourism, too much access to reserves, increase in  livestock  population bordering the forest, depletion of natural prey base etc., often stated to be reasons for such conflict.” (Distefano 2005). Humans are responsible for working out the systems for co-existence with wild animals in general and leopards in particular. Leopards are adaptable and thus it is difficult or even impossible to eliminate them completely in some areas, translocation practice could only worsen the situation and increase the number of attacks.

Humans are able to achieve environmental justice only in case they “drift away from the principle like sustainable development; polluter pays principle, precautionary principles which are based in the interest of humans and environment. Ecocentrism is nature centered where humans are part of nature and non-human has intrinsic value.” (Distefano 2005). This means that human interests should not be always put on top of the other interests and they should be aware of their obligations as well. They should then stick to the nature-centered approach, where humans are perceived as an integral part of this nature and not as counterpart. Maybe, it is necessary to start not from management of animals, but from management of humans in order to find the best solution to the animal-human conflict.

Works cited:

Burton, J.A., ed. The Atlas of Endangered Species. New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1998

Distefano, E. Human-Wildlife Conflict worldwide: collection of case studies, analysis of management strategies and good practices. SARD. Initiative Report, FAO, Rome, 2005

Gaworecki, Mike. Human-wildlife conflict is decimating leopard numbers in one of their last African strongholds. 2017

Woodroffe, R., Thirgood, S.,  Rabinowitz, A. People    and    wildlife,    conflict    or    co- existence? (No. 9). Cambridge University Press, 2005

Williams, S. T., Williams, K. S., Lewis, B. P., & Hill, R. A. (2017). Population dynamics and threats to an apex predator outside protected areas: implications for carnivore management. Royal Society Open Science, 4(4), 161090.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: October 27, 2021] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
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[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]
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