Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 November 2009
As the cases in this volume vividly illustrate, human conflict with wildlife is a significant – and growing – conservation problem around the world. The risk of wildlife damage to crops, livestock and human lives provides incentives for rural residents to kill wildlife and to reduce the quantity and quality of habitat on private and communal lands.
Recognition among conservationists that the cost of conserving large and sometimes dangerous animals is often borne disproportionately by farmers and others living closest to wildlife has spawned strategies to reduce this imbalance. One popular response is to compensate rural residents for the costs of wildlife damage. By spreading the economic burden and moderating the financial risks to people who coexist with wildlife, conservationists hope to reduce the negative consequences of human–wildlife conflict.
Few systematic efforts have been made to evaluate the efficacy of these programmes or the best way to implement and manage these schemes for endangered species (Sillero-Zubiri and Laurenson 2001). In this chapter, we build on our recent study (Nyhus et al. 2003) which asked whether compensation programmes really help endangered species in conflict with humans. We surveyed 23 international experts in large mammal conservation to learn about common pitfalls associated with running a compensation programme and the resources that managers need to succeed. Here, we also draw on additional published studies and reviews to explore the role of compensation in resolving conflicts between people and wildlife.