Mitigating human-wildlife conflict
Human-wildlife conflict, in particular crop damage by elephants, can cause an immediate subsistence crisis resulting in enormous resentment and anger among rural people. Elephants and other wildlife are injured and killed in retaliation and it becomes difficult if not impossible to implement conservation projects under these circumstances. Human-wildlife conflict is not easy to solve and requires large investments of time and resources to simply reduce it. The best thing we can do is prevent human-wildlife conflict from occurring in the first place. This preventative measure requires proper land-use planning, which we are promoting wherever we can before it is too late. Sadly in many places it is too late. Under these circumstances what are we doing about it?
Monitoring where and when human-elephant conflict occurs using a dedicated community scout network. This helps us plan where to focus resources for managing the problem and provide a baseline to evaluate the impact of our management interventions.
Promoting the use of an array of simple cost-effective farm-based elephant deterrents that have been developed and trialed by practitioners in sites across Africa and Asia. These include passive and active deterrents (including chilli fences and loud noise makers among others.) The key to ensuring that any of these farm-based deterrents can work is the availability of sufficient labour, in particular for guarding at night.
Where appropriate we are supporting our partners and local communities to construct and manage electrified fences to prevent elephants from entering cultivated lands. We are currently using our experience with fences and their management to great effect by supporting community groups and landowners on the ground with the construction and management of the 163 km West Laikipia Fence in Laikipia. As a consequence crop-raiding by elephants here has been reduced by more than 50%.
Managing Fence Breaking Elephants
Develop tools for the effective management of problem elephants using dedicated elephant researchers on the ground. These researchers have an identification system so that we can monitor known individuals over time to establish what is going on in the population. In the case of consistent crop-raiders (invariably males) we are trialing non-lethal approaches for their management. The latest of these is the E-Fence system whereby we deploy smart GPS collars on known crop-raiders. When the elephant approaches a designated boundary the collar sends a text message to a group of people who mobilise a response to scare the individual away before it causes any damage.