Currently — February 28th, 2023

What you need to know, currently.

The climate emergency is fueling a rise in human-wildlife conflicts, according to a paper published in Nature Climate Change.

The paper looked at 49 cases of human-wildlife conflict on every continent except Antarctica and in all five oceans. It revealed that from mosquitos to humans to elephants, conflicts affected all major wildlife groups.

As climate change looms over us — food, water, and safe shelters are fewer and farther between, forcing animals and humans alike to move to new places, including previously uninhabited ones.Changes in the climate result in loss of livelihoods and jobs, as well as damage to property, which in turn, affects our behaviors as people.

In more than 80 percent of case studies, changes in temperature and rainfall were the most common causes of conflict, while the most common outcome was injury or mortality to people (43 percent of studies) and wildlife (45 percent of studies).

In Sumatra, forest fires following an El Niño-induced drought drove tigers and elephants to new ranges, causing at least one human death. Animals might also be becoming more nocturnal to avoid deadly hot temperatures during the day, resulting in more attacks on livestock at night, when people are asleep. This can lead to retaliatory killings.

Blue whales are changing their migration timings as marine heatwaves grow in frequency and intensity, increasing collisions with ships. In the melting Arctic, polar bears are forced to hunt for food on land, leading to more human-polar bear interactions in certain places, like the Canadian town of Churchill, Manitoba, known as the “polar bear capital of the world.

“Recognising the connection between climate change and human-wildlife conflict is essential for anticipating, and ultimately addressing, new and intensified human-wildlife interactions in the 21st century and beyond,” the researchers concluded.

—Aarohi Sheth

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