Deforestation and human-wildlife conflicts

Hi everyone and welcome back to this week’s post. Today, I’ll be talking about deforestation and how it is linked to human-wildlife conflicts (HWCs).

What is deforestation?

It is when forests are cleared so that the land can be used for other purposes, or when the decrease in tree canopy cover goes below the 10% limit and has long-lasting effects (FAO, 2001). Forests are cleared for many purposes such as agriculture and for building up urban areas for settlement. This can cause many negative environmental impacts (National Geographic, undated) which include:

  • Eliminating carbon sinks hence resulting in increased amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming
  • Habitat loss
  • And many others
Deforestation. Source: Rainforest Action Network

One of the most severe impacts however, is the loss of habitat, because this lowers the survival rate of many species that live in the forest due to the loss of their homes (National Geographic, undated). The loss of habitat also leads to HWCs as wildlife are forced out of their home and into settlements. This results in conflict when there is increased contact between wildlife and humans and interests of humans and wildlife clash.

An example of this is the human-tiger conflict in Sumatra where more than 16 million acres of forests have been destroyed (WWF, undated).

Sumatran Tiger. Source: Monika Betley

This has caused habitat loss that pressures them to move and search for food nearer to urbanised areas due to the reduction in availability of their natural food sources (Bell, 2014). HWC arises as tigers start to prey on livestock as they move nearer to settlements (Bell, 2014). Not only that, deforestation has also resulted in cases of Sumatran tigers killing humans to arise in 2009 (Reuters, 2009), and such cases have continued to surface even until this year (Channel NewsAsia, 2017), further exacerbating the human-tiger conflict. A common reaction of villagers to this conflict is to kill the tigers which are already critically endangered (WWF, undated). This is due to reasons like poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, loss of habitat and human-tiger conflict where 15% of tigers killed was due to this reason, resulting in a small and declining population (Linkie et al., 2008).

So, from the above example, we can see how deforestation can cause human-wildlife conflicts which can contribute to other environmental problems. Next week, I’ll be talking more about this topic, with a special focus on palm oil, so do look out for the next post on that!

Until next time!

Shelby

References:

Deforestation. Food and Agricultural Organisation (2001). Retrieved on 2 November from: http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/j9345e/j9345e07.htm

Deforestation. National Geographic (undated). Retrieved on 2 November from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/

Deforestation behind Sumatran tiger attacks: WWF. Reuter (2009). Retrieved on 2 November from: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-tigers/deforestation-behind-sumatran-tiger-attacks-wwf-idUSTRE51O2OH20090225

Sumatran tiger mauls Indonesian man to death. Channel NewsAsia (2017). Retrieved on 2 November from: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/sumatran-tiger-mauls-indonesian-man-to-death-7568782

Deforestation drives tigers into contact, conflict with humans. Bell (2014). Retrieved on 2 November from: https://news.mongabay.com/2014/06/deforestation-drives-tigers-into-contact-conflict-with-humans/

Panthera Tigris ssp. Sumatrae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Linkie, Wibisono, Martyr & Sunarto (2008). Retrieved on 2 November from: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T15966A5334836.en

Sumatran Tiger. WWF (undated). Retrieved on 2 November from: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/sumatran-tiger

2 thoughts on “Deforestation and human-wildlife conflicts

  1. Hi Shelby!

    Sadly this problem is also present here in Singapore. In the 1920s, deforestation due to development shrinks the habitat of the tigers, which then in turn lead to increased conflict with humans and their ultimate demise. Now, further pressure on the CCNR and BTNR means more encounters with monkeys and wild boars. I know recently that a man was gored by a wild boar, which is unfortunate. I still hang on to the hope that humans and wildlife can truly co-exist in harmony.

    Jun Yu

    1. Hi Jun Yu!

      Thanks for reading my blog post! Sadly, the damage has already been done, and there are increasing cases of HWCs in Singapore which can worsen people’s opinions of our amazing wildlife and that can cause setbacks to co-existence efforts. However, I believe that with increasing awareness about this issue, as well as initiatives from various organisations, co-existence can be possible someday. How fast that day will come though, does depend on how much we do now, but like you, I still remain optimistic about our future!

      Cheers!
      Shelby

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