Anim. Conserv., 24: 733-734. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12741
In this current state of exponential human population growth, natural spaces are being eroded more than ever before. Human activities have modified and transformed over half of the global land surface (Chapin et al., 2000), causing extensive habitat loss and fragmentation, and leading to a global decline in species. The rapid conversion of forest to agriculture puts farmers on the frontline of conflict with wildlife, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the tropics, where development is rapidly catching up with the West. In the tropics communities are forced to survive alongside the megaherbivores that are predominantly under control or extinguished from much of the developed world. The most problematic animals for humans to live alongside are, arguably, elephants. Throughout much of elephant range in Asia and Africa, remaining elephant habitat is in the process of significant encroachment by humans, often with a front of edible crops that are highly preferred by such herbivores. These agricultural lands, on the edge of primary elephant habitat, can make for easily accessible resources for wildlife, and little is put in place to dissuade resident elephant herds from utilizing this resource. As a result, human-wildlife conflict is becoming a serious issue, and threatens the livelihoods of many of those living alongside megafauna, not to mention the threats to local elephant populations from retaliatory killings. Mitigating such situations often relies on translocating `problem animals’. In their paper, de la Torre et al. (2021) clearly show that such techniques are flawed. The overlap with elephants, in the peripheral agricultural landscapes, makes highly nutritious and abundant crops a readily available resource for elephants. Therefore, unless a constant stream of elephant translocations is a financially viable and sustainable solution, smarter methodologies need to be employed to create a model of coexistence where humans and elephants can live harmoniously together over the long term.