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HUMAN-WILDLIFE RESPONSE TEAMS

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HUMAN-WILDLIFE CONFLICT RESPONSE TEAMS

Guidance on planning, setting up, managing, and assessing response teams that deal with human-wildlife conflict.

Created in collaboration with WWF and based on a global survey of conservation practitioners.

Front cover of Human Wildlife Conflict Response Teams

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

With increased loss of habitat and growing human populations in areas that are also used by wildlife, interactions between humans and wildlife are increasing, characterised also by an increase in the number of conflict incidents. An increase in Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) is thought to be increasing people’s motivation to retaliate against the wildlife involved or may otherwise reduce their motivation to actively participate in conserving biodiversity.

 

A wide range of approaches has been developed to help manage HWC, including Response Teams (RT) that are set up to respond to HWC incidents, with a growing number of studies assessing their effectiveness. However, there is very little practical guidance available for conservation professionals to design and run RTs. This report, therefore, sets out to capture global lessons for setting up, managing, monitoring, and sustaining a RT. The findings here are the culmination of lessons captured through interviews with experts that have direct experience with all aspects of RT design, management, and operation.

RTs are one of the most critical pieces of the HWC chain. RTs are often the first to be notified – by a victim or a witness in distress – of an event underway or just finished. They perform diverse tasks ranging from first aid; crowd control; animal trapping, capture or killing; and the difficult task of retrieving the bodies of humans killed as a result of HWC, as well as community education. They have the responsibility to be on call 24-7 and to respond rapidly to reported.

Investigate all events with integrity, and ensure reports are collected, collated, and acted upon. Without RTs and the functions they carry out, entire HWC management programs can fall apart, and communities can lose tolerance of wildlife and take measures into their own hands and remove the animals from that area.

Understanding where, when, how, and why RTs succeed or fail is a critical part of managing HWC. RTs fit within the Response Element of conflict and are, therefore, a critical part of the overall system of HWC, and importantly enhance the effectiveness of the actions across all the other conflict elements (policy, prevention, mitigation, understanding the conflict, and monitoring). No management of conflict in the longer term can be successful without considering these forward and backward linkages. 14 clear lessons, encompassed under the themes of design, operation, monitoring, and sustainability, have emerged from this review that can help enhance the effectiveness of RTs globally.

 

Lessons for the design and establishment of Response Teams Results showed that the role and, thus, design of RTs depends in large part on the entity behind it. Of the RTs assessed, community RTs generally focused on crowd control and hazing wildlife away, government RTs often dealt with translocating animals, and NGO RTs provided technical assistance to the government RTs to help translocate animals or research HWC. NGOs also had a major role to play in helping to set up and fund RTs in general.

Overarching lessons for Response Team establishment:

  • RTs need to have clear authority for carrying out their functions.

  • RTs should be set up by groups that are motivated to deal with HWC.

  • RTs should be governed by the same group that operates the RT.

 

Lessons for operating Response Teams:

  • Each RT should have a clearly defined area they are responsible for.

  • There should be a single, official contact number for people to report conflict incidents to the RT.

  • A RT should have enough members available to effectively respond to HWC incidents, especially during periods of high conflict.

  • RTs should have sufficient skills to be effective at carrying out their functions.

  • RTs should have all the specialist equipment they need to carry out their functions effectively.

  • RTs should have access to a means of transportation that enables them to reach HWC incidents in time for them to effectively carry out their functions.

  • RTs should have a documented protocol for carrying out their functions in response to the different types of HWC incidents.

 

Lessons for monitoring Response Teams’ performance:

  • RTs’ work should be clearly linked to a conservation strategy and be guided by SMART objectives.

  • RTs should have a regular process in place to measure and improve the effectiveness of their functions.

  • RTs should regularly collect HWC related data and share that data with regional, national, or international databases.

 

Lessons for sustaining Response Teams:

  • RTs should have sufficient funds to cover the costs of carrying out their functions for the foreseeable future.

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CONCLUSIONS

Further research is recommended to strengthen the initial lessons learned captured in this survey, so that they are applicable to a wider range of situations involving different species, geographic areas, and cultural contexts. To help practitioners incorporate their HWC work into an overall conservation strategy, the authors suggest using established formats of conservation strategy to incorporate HWC- related work, developing standardized templates and indicators to help manage and report on RT work, creating a global HWC database, and providing training to practitioners to help them set up and manage RTs.

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