Xakao — Elephants in the Okavango region do not want anything to hinder their pathway and, since nature does not allow that because of other creatures sharing space with them conflict arise.
This is the observation by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Eco exist, an organisation that strives to empower farmers with affordable and effective tools to deter crop raiding and reduce conflicts with elephants.
The project director, Dr Amanda Stronza said their project tackles the root causes and works to find practical, affordable and effective ways for people and elephants to co-exist.
Dr Stronza said since moving from conflict to coexistence requires a portfolio of management tools and strategies to provide vital solutions, the project focuses on applied research, land use planning and crop-raiding mitigation.
However, she said they try to control the situation by tracking the elephants to understand their population, size, and changes over time, pathways, preferred habitats, sources of water and food and their interactions with other elephants and people.
“We gather social, biological, and ecological information about people and elephants in the region to develop a bigger-picture understanding of competition and to help build opportunities for co-existence through informing land use planning,” she added.
Dr Stronza further noted that they facilitate cooperation among farmers and villages to work and learn together how best to deter elephants from crop-raiding.
She said they lead collaborative research and practical innovation to help farmers by improving their food security and making their crops more resilient to crop raiding events when they do occur.
The project director also noted that the team facilitates private support for elephant friendly and elephant-themed commerce, creating opportunities for people to establish the micro-enterprises and earn benefits from elephants.
Eco exist is a non-profit organisation and has a five year programme aimed at reducing human/wildlife conflicts and fostering coexistence and team work in the eastern Okavango Panhandle.
She elaborated that the populations of people and elephants in the region is nearly about 15 000 each in a shared space of over 8 000 square kilometres.
However, she noted that the team works with 13 villages being Mohembo East, Kauxwi, Xakao, Sekondomboro, Mogotlho, Mokgacha, Seronga, Gunotsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa to also bring them together, celebrate their arts and traditions through competitions to create income for dwellers and bring more tourism.