Meeting your ancestors – Sticks, stones, and discord in Earth's outposts

Elsevier, Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 52, August 2024
Berger J., Kusi N.

An unusual problem at the extreme edges of Earth involves marginalized people and associated livelihoods when their domestic stock is lost to wild ancestors. Animosity to wildlife results due to economic costs, personal injury, and death. Despite IUCN recognition of biodiversity at a policy front, justice and equity for humans have not been well integrated in these realms. In particular, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Changpas, Nepalis, Bhutanese, and Brokpa, as well as Mongolians in the Gobi Desert deal with these realities when the wild progenitors of their livestock attempt to appropriate genetically-related domestic females to biologically propagate. Among the highly endangered ancestors are the likes of wild camels, wild yaks, banteng, and gaur. Beyond Asia, some similarity of issues still thwart African, and South and North American pastoralists and involve species from caribou and bison to wild sheep and goats, and guanacos. Biologically reality has trumped our evolutionary innovation to benefit ourselves through domestication because of the powerful mutual attraction between descendent domestics and their wild ancestors. Conservation biologists and on-the-ground practitioners must engage more with local pastoralists to tackle these complex and infrequently described conflicts on how best to implement protective policies. Sticks and stones are neither the answer for pastoral safety nor for avoiding introgression among these iconic mammals.