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'Human populations and wildlife have always lived alongside each other, but current times have made the complex landscape of human-wildlife interactions even more complex.


I do research in Sub-Saharan Africa that pulls together spatial and behavioral ecology, anthropology, and human psychology to examine how to mitigate conflict that arises due to wildlife and people living in closer and closer proximity and density to each other. .


Sometimes, succeeding in conservation, such as raising population numbers or the successful translocation of a species can actually lead to increased conflict with humans. Wildlife such as elephants and lions, although incredibly charismatic, can be a real hazard to local communities’ safety and livelihoods.


The trick to all of this, especially as a foreign scientist, is to be able to work with local communities closely, to get them invested and taking a leading role in the research, to collect data that will be useful for them, and to not engage with them holding preconceived notions of their perception of wildlife.


 Only with the utmost empathy and diplomacy, as well as knowing when to let local knowledge take the lead, will researchers make headway in the complicated interface of human-wildlife conflict.'

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