Tag Archives: Human-Wildlife Conflict

Old-fashioned human-wildife conflict

There are very few taxidermy specimens of Barbary Lions. Over the past 15 years my colleague, Dr Nobuyuki Yamaguchi has spent months attempting to locate these treasures, following the footsteps of Vratislav Mazak, the famous biologist who had previously tracked down many specimens in the 1960s. Sadly some of these items have gone missing over the past 40 years.

Velizar Simeonovski

“The thief of Beja” by V. Simeonovski (click image to see full size version)

Only one specimen, in Leiden’s Naturalis Museum in the Netherlands, includes clear information on its provenance. Leading widlife artist Velizar Simeonovski has recreated the scene, showing the male lion being shot at close range (thumbnail link, right) by a local Tunisian defending his livestock. Velizar also offers an interesting commentary on the story.

Th male lion at Beja was shot in 1823, over a hundred years before the last lions dissappeared from the region. Whilst many of the subsequent encounters between people and lions in North Africa include livestock predation by lions it is also true that lions became more adept at withdrawing into remote areas away from human contact. In the 20th century only one third of the 30 encounters with lions resulted in the animal being shot and only two incidents involved livestock attacks.


Black SA, Fellous A, Yamaguchi N, Roberts DL (2013) Examining the Extinction of the Barbary Lion and Its Implications for Felid Conservation. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60174. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060174

Mazak V (1970) The Barbary lion, Panthera leoleo(Linnaeus, 1758);some systematic notes, and an interim list of the specimens preserved in European museums. Z Saugetierkd 35:34-45

Simeonovski, V. (2014) “The thief of Beja” 13 February 1823, the vicinity of Beja , Tunisia. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200278268637339&set=a.1930331635954.58603.1772149103&type=3&theater

Yamaguchi N, Haddane B. 2002. The North African Barbary lion and the Atlas Lion Project. International Zoo News 49 (321): 465-481.

Human leopard conflict – a classic lose-lose situation

There have been an increasing number of leopard-human conflicts in recent years across India, possibly due to increasing human land-use encroaching onto leopard habitat. The same is true for other big cat species across the globe. Leopard attacks have been recently reported in Turkey as one example. Few places in the world experience large human population densities alongside major predators as India and Bangladesh. In these areas conflict includes leopard attacks on humans, leopard attacks on livestock, or people attacking leopards (usually retribution).

However, killing of big cats is involved complex motivatioal factors on the part of the people prepard to carry out such an attack (Inskip et al 2014).

Attacks by animals on humans are the most rare and circumstances vary; for example, when natural prey populations are unusually low in times of drought; when an injured animal seeks ‘easier’ prey; when someone has  an unfortunate encounter with an animal traversing a human-dominted landscape; or a person’s unexpected encounter at close quarters in the wild. Attacks on livestock can be limited with appropriate security, but are difficult to avoid. The most questinoable area of conflict is human retribution, because it involves a high degree of risks to people. Human injury in such circumstances are common.

People need to better understand predator behaviour to avoid these situations. For example, most retribution attacks would be better managed by letting the animal escape (its most preferred option) without the need for contact.

Further Reading:

Anon (2013) Shepherd kills first Anatolian leopard sighted in Turkey for years. Daily News. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/shepherd-kills-first-anatolian-leopard-sighted-in-turkey-for-years.aspx?PageID=238&NID=57317&NewsCatID=378

Inskip C. and Zimmerman, A. (2009) Human-felid conflict: a review of patterns and priorities worldwide, Oryx, 43(1), 18–3

Inskip C., FahadZ., Tulley, R., Roberts, T and MacMillan D.(2014) Understanding carnivore killing behaviour: Exploring the motivations for tiger killing in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. Biological Conservation 180: 42–50

Khandal, D. (2012)  Human-Leopard Conflict, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Conservation India, 30th March 2012. 

Ten challenges when living with big cats

The idea of introducing big cats back into areas from which they have been extirpated seems  one of the great opportunities in conservation. Survival of big cats, as apex predators, is an indication of a generally healthy ecosystem. However the practical challenges faced by people who have to live in regions where big cats are present are not insignificant. Here are a few:

Leopard attack

A leopard attacks a forest guard near Siliguri, India. People attacked the leopard which later died. Picture: AP Source: AP

1. Risk of personal attack

2. Additional personal protection required

3. New routines for organising work and travel

4. Extra effort required to protect livestock

5. Reduced access to hunting

6. Threats to animals living in or near homes

7. Temptation for locals to seek risky revenge attacks on dangerous animals

8. Inconvenience of fencing, installed for protection, but reduces  access

9. Potential ‘no go’ areas prevent safe grazing or agricultural land use

10. Everyday tasks become risky (e.g. water or wood collection)

Photosource: http://www.news.com.au/world/rampaging-leopard-mauls-11/story-fn6sb9br-1226099449916