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1 March 2009 What is the Future for Wild, Large Herbivores in Human-Modified Agricultural Landscapes?
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Since the dawn of agriculture, people and wild animals have been in conflict because agricultural crops generally offer a rich food source for wild animals as well as for people. Large, wild herbivores compete for pasture resources with livestock and can act as reservoirs of livestock diseases. Furthermore, livestock form a concentrated and vulnerable food source for predators. As a result, humans have extirpated many native animal species from agricultural areas, either directly, or indirectly through modifications in habitat availability or structure resulting from land use changes. As human populations have expanded in developing countries they have caused loss in biodiversity and species extinctions, and will continue to do so. I review attempts to change the interaction between people and large herbivores from one that is primarily negative to one that is positive by increasing the benefits which individuals, communities and society derive from wild, large herbivores. My proposition is that, in developing countries, it is only by using this approach that wild, large herbivores have a chance of surviving outside areas specifically set aside for their protection. In the developed world the opposite trend will occur as people move into the cities causing human populations to decline in rural regions. As a consequence, wildlife habitat will increase and wild, large herbivores will come into conflict with humans, particularly in peri-urban areas rather than in rural areas as happens at present. This will lead to a change in public attitude from one that supports wildlife conservation to one that sees wild, large herbivores as a threat; again, with potential negative consequences for wildlife conservation.

© Wildlife Biology, NKV
Iain J. Gordon "What is the Future for Wild, Large Herbivores in Human-Modified Agricultural Landscapes?," Wildlife Biology 15(1), (1 March 2009).
Received: 2 November 2006; Accepted: 1 July 2008; Published: 1 March 2009

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