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Our Vision and Goals

For quick summaries of the carnivores we work with, click on the names below.

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learn about East African Carnivores

Dr. Adrian Treves founded the Carnivore Coexistence Lab in April 2007.

Large carnivores are the most challenging species with which to coexist. For millions of years, they competed with our ancestors for food and space. Humans were generally subordinate in this struggle. But, the past few hundred years have seen the tables turned. Now humans cause most carnivore mortality worldwide. We have degraded ecosystems as a result because large carnivores play essential roles in maintaining functioning, diverse ecosystems. Therefore large carnivores are among the most challenging to preserve.

Two species of large carnivores have gone extinct in recent times and most have suffered major population reductions. Loss of large carnivores disrupts ecosystems and depletes biodiversity, because of cascading influences on prey and smaller-bodied carnivores. The larger species of carnivores typically require vast areas to survive, thereby competing indirectly with people for space and resources. Direct competition is also apparent when carnivores prey on livestock or damage crops and when people retaliate by clearing habitat or killing carnivores. Human causes of mortality predominate in virtually all large carnivore populations.

Mainly, people retaliate against carnivores for real and perceived threats to property, safety, or hunted species. Thus, carnivore conservation has often depended on reducing human causes of mortality. Both private citizens and governments are implicated. Government-sponsored bounties, pest eradication campaigns, and trophy hunts extirpated carnivores across vast areas of many countries. Even in the last decade, private eradication efforts have occurred in many regions.

Large carnivores can be conserved within human-dominated areas, while also protecting people's livelihoods and safety. The solutions are never simple; indeed they can be maddeningly complex. But when we combine local knowledge with technical support and state-of-the-art research, we can balance the needs of people and wildlife.

The challenge of preserving nature in the face of climate change and the sixth mass extinction requires that current generations recognize their public duty to protect nature for future generations. It also requires that governments and public scientists account transparently in a sophisticated way for nature's assets as a trust for current and future generations not narrow interests. The constitutional and public trust frameworks that establish these duties are legal obligations as well as ethical and moral responsibilities. Since 2012, Dr. Adrian Treves has combined ecology and the law to understand the roles of legal, ethical and scientific duties in preserving nature for posterity. The Carnivore Coexistence Lab members are public scientists who strive to uphold these duties to the broadest public not narrow interests or donors. To do so, we transparently describe our value judgments as follows: