Good virtual fences make good neighbors: Opportunities for conservation

D. S. Jachowski, R. Slotow, J. J. Millspaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Fences can both enhance and detract from the conservation of wildlife, and many detrimental impacts are associated with creating physical barriers. By contrast, virtual fences can restrict, control or minimize animal movement without the creation of physical barriers, and present key benefits over traditional fences, including: (1) no need for construction, maintenance or removal of traditional fences; (2) rapid modification of boundaries both temporally and spatially based on specific conservation concerns; (3) application of novel conservation approaches for wildlife that integrate monitoring, research and management; and (4) social-psychological benefits that may increase support for conservation. We review the various types of sensory, biological and mechanical virtual fences, and the potential benefits and costs associated with fully integrating virtual fences into protected area management and wildlife conservation. The recent development of real-time virtual fences represents the potential for a new 'virtual management' era in wildlife conservation, where it is possible to initiate management actions promptly in response to real-time data. Wide-scale application of virtual fences faces considerable technological and logistical constraints; however, virtual fences are increasingly popular and soon will offer realistic management strategies for both terrestrial and avian wildlife conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Conservation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Biological fencing
  • Proximity-based sensors
  • Radio-activated guards
  • Real-time sensory deterrent
  • Virtual management


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