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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 172-183

A Review of the Role of Law and Policy in Human-Wildlife Conflict

1 Law Futures Centre, Griffith University, Queensland; Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
2 The Centre for Planetary Health & Food Security, Griffith University, Australia
3 Law Futures Centre, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Katie Woolaston
Law Futures Centre, Griffith University, Queensland; Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane
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Source of Support: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors., Conflict of Interest: None of the authors have any affiliation with, or financial interest in, the subject of this paper.

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_176_20

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Interactions between people and wildlife are often mediated by laws, policies, and other governance instruments with profound implications for species conservation. Despite its importance for conservation practice, governance of these human-wildlife relationships is an under-researched area. Our research aim was to understand the link between law/policy and human-wildlife conflict (HWC) and the implications for species conservation using a systematic quantitative review of the literature on the human dimensions of HWC. We identified 133 relevant HWC studies, conducted in 45 countries, involving 114 species. Over 80% of the articles mentioned law, mainly national-level legislation, with little reference to customary or tribal law. However, only 40%, stated whether the laws had influenced the HWC—most reported negative associations with HWC or a mix of positive and negative associations. The perceived ineffectiveness of law was primarily attributed to lack of implementation, support, and enforcement and perceived erroneous laws. The few positive associations included stakeholder involvement, management flexibility, and adequate compensation. Our findings reveal a knowledge deficit on the detailed effects of law on HWC and conservation conflicts in general. Overall, law as an institution seems to exacerbate or prolong most conflicts instead of providing a pathway to coexistence and enhancing species conservation.

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