In the UK you may find the occasional fox rummaging in your dustbin or a mole digging up your flower patch. However, in many parts of the world, encounters with wildlife can result in much more dangerous situations.
As human populations expand across the globe and we encroach into wilderness areas, wild animals are finding their natural habitats destroyed and migration routes blocked. People and wildlife are increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food, which can result in human injury, loss of income through crop-raiding and livestock predation, and sometimes even loss of life. Wildlife is also sometimes killed in defence or retaliation, sometimes leading to a drop in support for conservation.
Human-wildlife conflict is a global issue - from elephants eating crops in India, to tigers preying on livestock in Nepal, or polar bears breaking into rubbish bins across Arctic villages. It’s important that we find ways for people to live safely alongside wildlife.
Can technology help reduce conflict?
Together with education, benefit sharing schemes and better land-use planning, many techniques have been developed to help reduce human-wildlife conflict; these include fences and trenches which act as barriers between people and animals, and flashlights and guarding dogs which deter wildlife from human settlements and their property.
Technology has an increasingly important role in helping conservationists protect wildlife. And this is why WWF has partnered with WILDLABS to launch an exciting new challenge aimed at finding technological solutions to reduce human-wildlife conflict.
The Human-Wildlife Conflict Tech Challenge launches on 3 July 2017, and challenges digital experts, engineers, designers and tech savvy people to submit innovative ideas for early detection systems for wildlife. Two winners will receive 30,000 euros each to further develop and test their idea in the field.
Full information about the challenge and how to enter can be found on the WILDLABS website. Proposals can be submitted until 12 September 2017.