Hot dogs, hungry bears and wolves running out of mountain: International wildlife law and the effects of climate change on large carnivores

Arie Trouwborst, Andrew Blackmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The world’s largest predators, like their prey species and biodiversity at large, face increasing impacts from climate change, in addition to various other threats. Such climate impacts include the shrinking and disruption of habitat (e.g., polar bear, wolverine); range shifts, especially upslope (e.g., snow leopard, Ethiopian wolf) and poleward (e.g., golden jackal); reduced availability of key resources as water becomes scarcer and prey populations suffer from extreme weather, disease or other climate-related impacts (e.g., Gobi bear, cheetah); and increased human–wildlife conflict, when large carnivores progressively range beyond protected areas (e.g., African wild dog), or when climate change makes their ranges more suitable for livestock (e.g., lion). The aforementioned and many other large carnivore species are protected under global and/or regional legal instruments for wildlife conservation, such as the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the Algiers and Maputo Conventions on African Nature Conservation, and the Bern Convention on European Wildlife Conservation. We view current international wildlife law through the lens of the aforementioned scenarios and, as it were, through the eyes of the wildlife species involved, and attempt to assess to what extent the law is ‘climate change proof’ in terms of being prepared for said scenarios. Our analysis indicates, first, that most of the climate adaptation measures that seem necessary—concerning protected areas, connectivity, counteracting climate impacts, and addressing non-climate threats—can in principle be achieved by fully and properly implementing the law as it stands. Second, it appears that the facilitation of range shifts beyond historic ranges still calls for some serious attention and resourceful interpretation. Third, it seems that particularly significant hurdles have yet to be overcome before the law is properly attuned to facilitating managed relocation (assisted colonization) where necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-238
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of International Wildlife Law and Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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