Canada-South Africa trilateral Research Chair in climate change and human-wildlife interactions
Decreasing food availability for wildlife is likely to exacerbate the impacts of climate change on communities living near national parks. People living next to national parks and areas designed to protect biodiversity may argue that wild animals trespass on their lands, while conservation biologists stress that the ever-growing human population encroaches upon wild animal habitat, threatening their very existence and undermining the original purpose of the parks. Crop damage by park-protected animals is a significant risk for farms that are close to the parks. This conflict often leads to communities retaliating by killing animals or aiding poachers, which is a problem for at-risk and declining species such as elephants.
This project focuses on human-wildlife interactions, notably involving the rural poor of tropical countries, and how they will be affected by climate change. Using research based at Makerere University’s biological field station near Kibale National Park in Uganda, this project will aim to predict how climate change will exacerbate such conflicts, and design and test measures to mitigate climate change impacts on the rural poor and wildlife. The project involves a trilateral partnership between lead researchers at McGill University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, and Makerere University. The project will rely on existing collaborations and on both shared and complementary expertise of the three principal investigators across many areas such as ecology, conservation, and human-wildlife interaction.
This project is expected to strengthen the biological field station’s research capabilities, and to train graduate students from the three countries, who will benefit from mobility and exposure to a wide variety of ideas and perspectives. The genesis of the project is a collaborative effort to pilot a first set of trilateral partnerships between Canada, South Africa, and another country in sub-Saharan Africa, building on existing research chairs in Canada and South Africa, and supporting the role of South Africa to contribute to world-class research on the continent. The modalities were co-developed by IDRC and the National Research Foundation of South Africa.