Landscapes of risk: a cross-disciplinary approach to examine the sustainability of human-chimpanzee coexistence

Principal researcher: Kimberley Hockings

Research group: Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography


Human-wildlife interactions | Landscapes of fear | Great ape behaviour | Conflict mitigation

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)



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To identify mechanisms that would enable long-term coexistence, we must first understand the costs and risks that people and animals impose on each other in shared environments. This requires a systems approach that elucidates human and animal responses to risks of coexistence and, with that knowledge, identifies how shared landscapes can be better managed to accommodate the needs of both. While humans are typically dominant competitors in such systems, wildlife can threaten human safety and livelihoods (e.g. through aggressive behaviour and livestock/crop damage). They also impact on people's space and resource use, and their consequent willingness or capacity to tolerate wildlife. Entering and exploiting anthropogenic areas is risky for wildlife (e.g. due to increased risk of being killed by people). To survive in proximity to people animals should therefore adjust their behaviour in a trade-off between maximising energy gains and minimising such risks. This cross-disciplinary research significantly extends previous studies to systematically examine, at a much finer level of detail, how closely coexisting humans and chimpanzees in Guinea-Bissau perceive and respond to each other in shared environments. GIS models integrating the physical and behavioural landscapes (particularly "landscapes of fear" of encounter/attack) will identify risk "hot spots" and inform conflict mitigation strategies, to reconcile human welfare with biodiversity conservation.