Although protected areas such as national parks can play a crucial role in conserving wildlife, most species of large carnivores and large herbivores also depend on being able to occupy human-dominated landscapes. This sharing of space is often associated with conflicts between humans and wildlife, and between different groups of humans with divergent interests. In order to achieve a situation that can be described as “coexistence” there is a need to develop a more nuanced and realistic understanding of what this state looks like.
A paper written by Neil Carter, assistant professor in the Human-Environment Systems Research Center in the College of Innovation and Design at Boise State, and John Linnell, a senior research scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, was recently published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Titled “Co-adaptation is key to coexisting with large carnivores,” the paper looks at ways to improve the ability of humans and carnivores to co-exist, which is crucial to carnivore conservation efforts around the world.
The study is based on research conducted by the authors in areas as diverse as North America, Europe and Asia on species such as wolves, tigers, leopards, lynx and bears. In the paper, the researchers note that large carnivores need larger ranges than many protected areas afford. This means that carnivores often come in contact with human populations that are sometimes less than welcoming.