Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 June 2019
In answer to the question ‘Is containment of a population eruption desirable?’ Graeme Caughley replied ‘This is not a scientific question. I can boast of no qualifications that would make my opinion any more valuable than those of my two immediate neighbours, a garage mechanic on the one hand and an Air Vice-Marshall on the other.’ (Caughley, 1981)
INTENTION AND APPROACH
THIS CHAPTER draws on material from previous chapters and builds linkages among them. We supply some theoretical background that may help explain the consequences of various approaches to the ‘elephant problem’ as currently framed, a ‘problem’ which has arisen in conjunction with the growth of human settlements and activities across the landscape. We construct and discuss an integrative framework, and then summarise and synthesise the main points from the contents of Chapters 1–11 into this framework.
Using the above analysis, we then suggest how decision makers might most usefully approach and formulate elephant issues. We present a range of options for particular circumstances, at the level of societal influences, strategy and practical implementation, and the integration of these three. Finally we list what we see after the assessment as important gaps, and conclude.
MAKING COMPLEX ISSUES TRACTABLE
One underlying reason why the ‘elephant problem’ appears so intractable is that it is complex (Chapter 1). This affects decision making. Kinnaman & Bleich (2004) describe a range of responses, from toleration through to full collaborative behaviour, where there are different combinations of agreement and certainty (figure 1). The elephant issue clearly falls into the zone of complexity. Therefore it should not come as a surprise that reductionist ‘command-and-control’ policies (Chapter 1) have not succeeded. Even if they had been correct in assessing the biodiversity outcomes as simple and predictable (and there is serious doubt that this is the case (Chapter 3)), there is no doubt that the associated social responses (Chapter 4; Chapter 9), and hence the problem as a whole, are complex. Some even feel it is a ‘wicked problem’ (Conklin, 2006), insoluble because of ever-shifting goalposts.
Forming collaborative partnerships is central to the resolution of such issues. Figure 1 suggests that the predominantly unilateral management of elephant in the past operated in the command-and-control domain, and was therefore unlikely to lead to lasting solutions of any kind (Chapter 1).