For many farmers, an animal represents the key source of income.
Photo: © FANKS/

Rural poor bear biggest burden of conservation

The most vulnerable economic communities on Earth live alongside carnivores and pay the highest price for human-wildlife conflict. A new paper calls for mechanisms to be developed for rich countries to make payments to the communities at risk.

Poorer, rural communities pay the highest price for living with large, carnivorous wild animals such as lions and tigers, according to a new study which calls for more support for those at the sharp end, SciDev.Net reported in March 2023.

Conflict between people and animals is one of the biggest threats to the long-term survival of some of the world’s most prized species. But it also has significant economic implications and food security risks for the cattle keepers they live alongside, say the researchers.

Livestock losses resulting from carnivorous predators places increased costs on already impoverished households, according to the study.

Developing countries such as Kenya, Uganda or India suffer a roughly eight times higher economic vulnerability to human-wildlife conflict – with respect to cattle farmers – compared to wealthier countries such as Sweden, Norway or the USA.

The researchers looked at 133 countries at different stages of development which are home to 18 large carnivores known to prey on cattle. They analysed per capita income together with cattle prices to calculate the value of a single cow – and the impact of losing it – to farmers in different locations.

Farmers from the Global South are often the ones paying the price for living alongside species such as lions, tigers, wolves, or bears – animals which people world-wide believe should be conserved for their intrinsic value, the study said.

For many farmers, an animal represents the key – if not the only – source of income, and loss to a predator can be economically disastrous.

In developing countries, cattle keepers also produce almost a third less meat per animal on average compared to those in developed economies, the researchers found.

A single cow lost to a wild animal in the lowest-income areas is nearly equivalent to 18 months of lost calories by a child, according to the analysis.


Read more on the SciDev.Net website
Study: The unequal burden of human-wildlife conflict (

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