Local communities’ attitudes towards wildlife are, in part, determined by trade-offs. Wildlife-based economies benefit communities through livelihood generation but there is a noticeably small cost-benefit ratio when communities repeatedly suffer economic losses as a result of human-wildlife conflict (HWC). These losses reduce community support for conservation and lead to wildlife decline. In areas where agriculture and pastoralism are fundamental activities for extremely poor households, understanding the economics behind costs and benefits at the local level is critical to planning for coexistence. My research will estimate the impact of HWC on local economies around targeted protected areas using a local economy wide impact evaluation (LEWIE) method. This methodology could be used to understand if and how HWC predisposes communities to poverty, making the case that mitigating conflict could help achieve both conservation and poverty alleviation goals. A sub-component of this research will identify activities that can be strengthened so that benefits from wildlife exceed the costs to communities, thus, incentivizing communities to support conservation.
For the last six years, I have been working at the Global Wildlife Program led by the World Bank and funded by the Global Environment Facility. I was involved in supporting projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America on combating illegal wildlife trade, promoting wildlife-based economies and human-wildlife coexistence. I have previously worked for the 2041 Foundation, an organization whose mission is to preserve Antarctica. I began my conservation journey in the Pench Tiger Reserve in India, where I set up the Conservation Wildlands Trust.