Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Amboseli human elephant conflict project

The Amboseli human elephant conflict  project was started in 2005 to address the escalating human-elephant conflict in the area bordering Amboseli National Park and the surrounding group ranches. The project involved the local communities from the very onset to help find solutions to the conflict problem.  This continues to be the most significant feature of the project as it enters its fifth year.

During  a workshop  held in Loitokitok town with the community groups earlier in the  year,  the group chairman noted that indeed ‘unity is strength’.  He spoke about the wisdom of collective guarding where farmers form groups during the severe crop raiding season and guard crops in turns. The farmers contributed to a central kitty which they used to buy batteries for the torches supplied by the project.  They also received fireworks from the project team . Fireworks are strictly regulated in Kenya and can only be distributed to recognised entities. The existence of the groups made it possible for the provincial administration to give consent for the farmers to be given fireworks.

The meeting discussed the many achievements of the project and principally the realisation by members of the community that elephants are part and parcel of the Amboseli ecosystem.  One farmer explained that their community group no longer uses fireworks to scare elephants from the fields after the harvest season. They now ‘allow’ elephants to make their way peacefully to the Kilimanjaro forests.   The members of the community have also noted that elephants make the trip to Kilimanjaro and then within the same week or two make their way back to Amboseli. They understand that their farms lie on a migration route that elephants have used since time immemorial.

The project employs enumerators from the local community. The enumerators collect information on elephant visits.  The community collaborates well with the enumerators and will usually send  text messages to their local enumerator to alert him of any damage caused by elephants. The enumerators record each incident noting the time, the number of elephants involved, the types of crop damaged, the size of area damaged and the geographical location, the methods used to deter elephants and the response of the elephants to the deterrents.  This information  alongside other spatial and temporal data is used to determine the patterns of elephants activity. The aim of the project is to be able to predict areas of conflict and give managers and communities the information needed to enable them to deploy deterrents effectively. 

The project successfully combines sound scientific research and community action. This is the future of conservation in Kenya and Africa. The project leader, Winnie Kiiru believes that the future of wildlife lies in engaging with the people who share the land with it and continuously working on understanding the relationships and using science and local knowledge to find solutions and replace conflict with coexistence whenever possible.

The activities of this  project have been made possible  by the much appreciated support of  Born Free Foundation.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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