People and Elephants

What is the future of elephants outside protected areas

EWB’s study on the movements of elephants in Botswana confirms that elephants spend 65% of their time outside protected areas and elephants are expanding their range in northern Botswana (25% in the last ten years), re-occupying areas where they formerly occurred. While these unprotected lands support large numbers of elephants and other wildlife, they also support extensive human populations. It is a complex mosaic of agricultural fields, grazing lands and human settlements interspersed with diverse natural communities, all which pose significant challenges for wildlife conservation. This mixed land-use pattern only accentuates the critical need to provide for an extensive network of wildlife corridors and to promote a sustainable management strategy for both people and wildlife. Over the last twelve years, EWB has gathered an impressive data set on elephant ecology, which provides important tools for better understanding the ranging behavior of elephants in the region and critical information to identify conservation corridors and important habitats. These data also provide a common information base to discuss elephant and wildlife management and facilitate conflict resolution. EWB now wishes to disseminate the results gathered from this research to local communities and arrange meetings with resource managers and planners of the Transfrontier Conservation Area initiative.

People’s Perceptions and Local Support for Conservation Corridors: Can Humans and Elephants Co-exist

This study is being undertaken as PhD candidate Tempe Adams’ thesis at the University of New South Wales, hoping to determine the key issues and concerns with the current state of elephant management in Botswana. The research is focused on exploring the different facets of the elephant-human relationship that exists in Botswana and to explore why elephants choose to live in close proximity to human settlements and how best this close interaction can be managed. The study endeavors to shed light on why elephants would choose to come into urban areas, using small-scale corridors and the possible benefits to the elephants by this decision. Small-scale corridors throughout the townships are being monitored both day and night, providing local authorities with information on their use by elephants and other wildlife.

The research also aims to document key stakeholders opinions and perceptions of elephant conservation and management in the country, outlining and enabling all those individuals with a vested interest in elephant management to voice their opinions and the information provided will formulate constructive recommendations for future elephant management plans.

Community-Based Conservation Research, a gendered view

Women and men participate in the conservation of the natural environment in different ways. When national parks were recognized as exclusive strategies that marginalize local people, they were supplemented with community-based conservation as a way to incorporate local residents into conservation initiatives rather than excluding them. Now, even community-based conservation is under attack for failing to meet its participatory goals. The irony of this ongoing discussion is that it continues to forget the gendered dimensions of relationships with the natural environment. This project being conducted by Rachel DeMotts, assistant Professor from the University of Puget Sound seeks to help address that gap by examining ways in which women participate in conservation in Botswana and Namibia through a close consideration of the use of forest resources for craft making, the growing roles of women as leaders in local conservation projects, and the physical impacts of living with increased numbers of wildlife.

Read more: http://elephantswithoutborders.org/blog/?p=1394

Education

Information plays a vital role in cultural, political, social and economic development. In order to create long-term and practical solutions for wildlife management, it is essential that there be a fundamental understanding between local communities, researchers and decision makers. The information, perceptions and knowledge gained and exchanged between different peoples will provide the foundation and framework for initiating the development of sustainable community-based strategies throughout the region. Ecotourism programs can contribute greatly to the economies of local communities. When local communities benefit from revenues generated, community support for elephants and other wildlife increases, which promotes habitat conservation and restoration of wildlife populations. Through information sharing with all these people, problems can be converted into solutions to conserve wildlife populations and simultaneously enhance the economic opportunities for rural communities.

 

"perceptions and problems... converted into solutions"

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