Queen's Policy Engagement

Why we need to listen to farmers’ perspectives on lynx and wolf reintroductions

Repost: Whether in Monaghan or Malawi, Navan or Nepal, we should listen to and take seriously the perspectives of those who make their living from the land says environmental social scientist, Dr Jonny Hanson.

Why we need to listen to farmers’ perspectives on lynx and wolf reintroductions

Growing up in rural Monaghan in the 1990s, there was one thing that I wanted to be more than any other — a wildlife conservationist.

Then, in 1999, my family and I moved to Malawi, in southern Africa. Suddenly, the animals that had roamed my imagination became the species that lived in the country — and sometimes the city — that I now called home.

But amidst my excitement, I began to become aware that not everyone shared my unbridled enthusiasm for these creatures. For communities who relied on the river Shire for washing clothes, for farmers tending their maize crops or for herders with their livestock, crocodiles, elephants and leopards were a risk to their livelihoods and, sometimes, to their lives. The wildlife was the same but our perspectives were different. And our perspectives depended, in large part, on how close we lived to the land.

Fast forward over two decades. I was recently back in Nepal, where I’ve been working on snow leopard conservation for more than 10 years, supporting the work of Nepali colleagues and the Snow Leopard Conservancy. First through research, and, more recently, by making a Northern Ireland Screen-funded short film, I’ve sought to understand the same complex interactions between this species and its human neighbours as I encountered in Malawi.

For most of us, including me, the snow leopard is the semi-mythic ghost of the mountains: it stills our hearts as it moves majestically across our TV screens.

To continue reading, please click here. 

Article originally appeared in The Irish Examiner.


About the Author

Dr Jonny Hanson is a Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast. Jonny is broadly interested in the social aspects of conservation and agriculture, as well as how these relate to other social processes. He specialises in: coexistence between large carnivore conservation, livestock farming and tourism; social and community farming; and science communication.


Photo credit: Rob Howe

Kevin Fearon
Posted by

Kevin Fearon is the Business Alliance Manager for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Queen's University Belfast and manages the Queen's Policy Engagement initiative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *