New manual of ‘tried and tested’ elephant deterrents introduces sustainable methods for farmers to protect their property and farms from elephants
Kenya, August 12, 2022. As human-elephant conflict increases across Africa, farmers need practical, sustainable and affordable ways to peacefully co-exist with elephants without having to resort to violence.
Save the Elephants (STE), the Kenyan-based research and conservation organisation, has developed a unique ‘how to’ manual, the Human-Elephant Coexistence (HEC) Toolbox of tried and tested elephant deterrents to empower rural communities to protect their livelihoods from elephants.
Built on the success of STE’s Elephants and Bees Project in Tsavo, the Toolbox is the brainchild of Dr Lucy King who heads up STE’s Human-Elephant Coexistence program. Her innovative and award-winning beehive fence project, which is helping drive away crop-raiding elephants from farms in Tsavo, Kenya, has gained accolades around the world. In fact, over 11,000 beehives have now been installed in elephant conflict sites across 84 sites across Africa and Asia.
The HEC Toolbox, which officially launches today on World Elephant Day (August 12, 2022), has been two years in the making. It comprises over 80 deterrent methods, including the successful beehive fence method, presented in a beautifully illustrated 130 page manual. The manual was illustrated by Nairobi-based artist, Nicola Heath.
Designed specifically for rural communities and NGO trainers, each page contains carefully crafted instructions alongside the ‘recipe’ for each deterrent. Among the 80 methods that can be downloaded free either individually or as an entire book pdf, there are watch towers, chilli fences, beehive fences, grain stores, boundary designs for schools and non-palatable crop options.
All of the methods have been tested by communities across Africa and some published in peer-reviewed science journals.
The HEC Toolbox launches at a time when the threat from human-elephant conflict is escalating at an alarming rate across Africa. In Kenya, the problem is exacerbated by elephant corridors being blocked by human development and a severe drought affecting large parts of the country, one of the worst seen in many years. Both humans and elephants have lost their lives following violent altercations in the East African country. In Samburu-Laikipia, home to Save the Elephants’ research centre, at least 70 elephants, and possibly many more, were killed in 2021 as a result of human-elephant conflict.
Dr King says she was inspired to create the manual following the success of her beehive fence project. Says Dr King “One of the main reasons people retaliate with violence against elephants is because of the damage they cause to their livelihoods, especially during tough times such as the ongoing drought in Kenya. However, the success of our beehive fence project in Kenya is proof that there are other more peaceful ways for farmers to protect their livelihoods and, in some cases, even secure an income. Our new manual provides rural communities and pastoralists with a whole encyclopedia of practical, peaceful and sustainable deterrents that we hope will help promote coexistence between people and elephants for years to come. In turn, our leaders need to ensure no new infrastructure is built on wildlife corridors and national park boundaries are respected. Elephants also need their space to roam and forage and we all have to play our part in seeking true coexistence with nature.”
Says Dr Loki Osborn, Chair of the Human Elephant Conflict Taskforce for the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) in Zimbabwe – “Those of us that study human elephant conflict have needed a collection of documents like these for years. We have all tried to communicate our findings to the people who live with elephants, but with little real impact. The manuals were too academic or in the wrong language or unavailable to the villagers who needed them most. This new collection addresses all those issues and more.”
Says Malvern Karidozo from Connected Conservation in Zimbabwe – “Besides the brilliant illustrations, the comprehensive and encouraging experimentative nature of the Toolbox manual makes them potentially the most useful, and widely distributable, guides yet. We also really appreciate the inclusive development of these manuals and admire the open approach toward collaboration. We look forward to you all getting them into the hands of the people on the frontline of conservation where people and elephants are dying everyday.”
The Toolbox is available as both a free online PDF and as a printed book that can be ordered from Save the Elephants office in Nairobi (at cost). It will be shared with NGOs and rural communities across Africa over the coming months. It will also be presented by Dr King at conservation-based conferences around the globe.
To view the Toolbox online, click https://ste-coexistence-toolbox.info
Caption: Toolbox illustrations by Nicola Heath
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Save the Elephants
About Save the Elephants
Based in Kenya, Save the Elephants works to secure a future for elephants. Specializing in elephant research, they provide scientific insights into elephant behavior, intelligence, and long-distance movements and apply them to the challenges of elephant survival. Education and outreach programs share these insights with local communities as the true custodians of this rich heritage. The team works towards a future of harmonious coexistence between humans and elephants. High-tech tracking helps plan landscapes while low-tech beehive fences, among other tools, provide farmers with protection as well as income. To battle ivory poaching, Save the Elephants teamed up with the Wildlife Conservation Network created the Elephant Crisis Fund to identify and support the most effective partners in Africa and in nations with ivory markets to stop poaching, thwart traffickers and end demand for ivory.