Oakland, CA (September 18, 2015) – Conflicts inevitably occur as people and animals share the planet and its food, water, and space, and solutions depend on humans doing what’s best for wildlife, according to Oakland Zoo Conservation Director Amy Gotliffe. Gotliffe spoke at international environmental consulting firm Marstel-Day’s Stand With Wildlife Campaign event, hosted by Oakland Zoo Sept. 17, saying that wildlife “learn to live with us. We need to learn to live with them.”
As the number of people on Earth has mushroomed to 7.3 billion, humans have increasingly invaded wildlife habitat, maimed animals in traps, illegally poached wildlife, stolen their eggs, disrupted migratory paths, and killed them with vehicles, Gotliffe said. “We’re clashing on a lot of fronts,” she added. “Our actions really matter. It’s going to make a difference how we act.”
Gotliffe said the mountain lion plays a key role in ecosystem health as a native California predator of animals that eat erosion-controlling vegetation. Yet, although the mountain lion avoids humans and is rarely seen, its natural need to roam widely has caused irrational panic and needless mountain-lion deaths when several recently appeared in communities.
A visit to Oakland Zoo inspired Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca R. Rubin to launch the company’s Stand With Wildlife Campaign to highlight the challenges facing animals and the ways people can help sustain wildlife.
“Your work is pioneering and quite remarkable,” Rubin told Gotliffe following her presentation. “It’s incredible work that you’ve done.”
Rubin hailed the Oakland Zoo’s involvement in the Bay Area Carnivore Action Team (BACAT), which was formed to transform community response to mountain-lion incidents and to improve their coexistence with humans. Rubin cited BACAT’s successful effort to win passage of California Senate Bill 132 to specially protect the mountain lion, and Rubin noted that BACAT’s efforts can serve as a model for other regions and for the protection of other species.
Gotliffe said BACAT’s creation of a multidisciplinary response team to promptly answer calls about mountain lions in distress or otherwise needing help ensures a “better outcome” for the animal. BACAT’s efforts also focus on building awareness in order to dispel community fear and encourage pride in the proximity of animals.
“Human-Wildlife Conflict is not only a conflict between humans and wildlife, as it is a conflict between humans about wildlife,” Gotliffe said in one of her slides.
Worldwide, stakeholders have collaborated to implement an array of simple means of improving human-animal coexistence: installing beehives on farmland to keep elephants away from crops; using trained dogs in a local park to repel bears; and giving ex-poachers goats and training to care for the animals and manage sale of their meat.
“I want to say it’s difficult and complicated, but fun, to be a part of these answers,” Gotliffe said.
Visit Marstel-Day.com to watch videos of past Stand With Wildlife Campaign presentations on such conservation topics as the illegal wildlife trade, plastics polluting the oceans, and reconnecting children with nature.