Elephant Conservation and Community
Outreach Farming Project
has embarked on a bold new endeavor, the "Elephant Conservation
and Community Outreach Farming Project". It is unique and the
first of its kind within the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation
Area (KAZA TFCA). EWB has planted agricultural trial plots to carefully
quantify the impact of elephants on crop production and to experiment
with a range of low cost deterrence options which may reduce elephant
crop raiding. We have also incorporated conservation agriculture
techniques to yield higher crop production. The project site is
ideally located in a high density elephant area in the Chobe Enclave,
where human elephant conflict is a serious problem. The Enclave
is in the northern district of Botswana, surrounded by Chobe National
Park, and Chobe Forestry Reserve. The Enclave has five main villages,
with a population of 10 000 people that share the area with an estimated
40 000 elephants.
Increasing human populations and expanding human activity contribute
to habitat change and fragmentation. These pressures, in combination
with growing elephant numbers and expansion of their ranges, inevitably
leads to people and elephants coming in close contact, having to
share natural resources, which in some instances leads to conflict.
Increased elephant forays into areas of human settlement mean people
are afraid to collect firewood, cut grass, move from their home,
or even walk to work or school. There are increasing complaints
of crop loss and damage to property. Not only are people’s
livelihoods threatened but also, there are reports of injuries and
deaths to both humans and elephants. Frustrated villagers develop
negative attitudes towards elephants and at times, engage or demand
retaliatory killings of elephants. There is an urgent need for a
reliable monitoring system to assess the effectiveness of various
HEC mitigation options. Most current monitoring systems have previously
depended and placed the onus on poor rural farmers to test crop
raiding mitigation measures. This approach relies solely on the
rural farmer and suffers from poor supervision, lower farming yields
and inferior experimental design. EWB has been approached by several
local communities to extend our studies to incorporate Human Elephant
Conflict (HEC). In response to this request, EWB has created this
exciting new program.
EWB has already developed six agricultural trial plots and a base
camp, which will be carefully monitored to determine the effectiveness
of various mitigation methods. The camp will accommodate field staff,
scientists and eventually host rural farmers who we will be trained
in the use of successful deterrence methods. The site will serve
as a training facility to aid in the reduction of human wildlife
conflict and dually serve as an experimental demonstration site,
with a focus on conservation agriculture. It is anticipated that
these activities will lead to:
• established demonstration plots where farmers can be trained
in mitigation and conservation agriculture techniques, to yield
lower incidents of conflict yet higher crop production.
• best practice systems will be properly quantified and put
in place for HEC management which can be transferred to other parts
of the elephant range.
• HEC reduced to tolerable levels leading to improved livelihood
& security for local communities.
• a change in people’s perceptions and behaviours towards
To learn more about this and other EWB project
endeavors, please see our Progress Reports on our Download page
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 seven 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
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 these three groups 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.
To facilitate this process, EWB proposes
• carry out questionnaire surveys that will help to determine
people’s attitudes and
perceptions towards elephants and issues concerning elephants and
• give presentations and provide educational materials to
communities, highlighting the major findings and recommendations
of EWB’s research on the ecology of elephants, and to promote
awareness on the benefits of elephant conservation and the importance
of the TFCA to ecotourism.
• organize and host workshops with wildlife managers, local
communities, conservation organizations and other stakeholders to
share the key results of research studies
• work with local communities and resource management authorities
to locate and identify viable conservation corridors and initiate
conservation corridor management strategies
• and, develop a cross border partnership for elephant conservation
in southern Africa, contributing to both, a regional elephant management
plan and a coordinated strategy for developing a wildlife conservation
corridor network within the Kavango Zambezi TFCA.
"perceptions and problems... converted into solutions"