Urbanization, habitat loss, and even successful conservation are leading to increased human-wildlife conflict
On the morning of May 8, 2022, six young and two adult wild boars were spotted in a residential complex in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, some of them feasting on plants in the yards behind ground-floor apartments. It ultimately took a joint effort from the complex’s security guards, local firefighters, and the police to evacuate the boars into the woods nearby.
Hangzhou, a city of more than 10 million residents, has reported multiple wild boar sightings in populated areas in recent years, with one boar even entering a shopping mall in broad daylight. Although local media tend to portray these incidents as thrilling episodes in urban dwellers’ lives, such encounters in rural areas can have far more severe consequences. News portal Zhejiang Online reported that, in June 2019, wild boars entered pear orchards in Yunhe county in Lishui and chewed on branches and fruit, resulting in 100,000 yuan’s worth of damage.
Disruptive and sometimes deadly encounters between humans and wildlife are increasing worldwide. The Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines “human-wildlife conflict” as “when animals pose a direct and recurring threat to the livelihood or safety of people.” As they often cause humans to retaliate against and persecute the species, the SSC considers these conflicts to be “the most pressing threats to biodiversity conservation and achievement of sustainable development.”
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Why is Human-Wildlife Conflict Increasing in China? is a story from our issue, “Public Affairs.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.