Tackling Human-Elephant Conflict


Ryan Wilkie, Research Assistant

Date Published

In February last year, Amboseli’s most iconic and active crop-raiding collared elephant, Tim, was speared in the trunk – the third such incident in as many years.   Tim made a full recovery but the threat on his life highlighted the escalating problem of human-elephant conflict in the Amboseli ecosystem – today, the leading cause of premature elephant mortality in the region.

Since then, the team monitoring Tim have made significant strides in improving rangers’ patrol strategies to better counter Tim’s raiding patterns. Over the past year, they’ve even halved the number of raids resulting in crop damage.

Save The Elephants, the Amboseli Trust For Elephants, Big Life Foundation and Wildlife Direct have monitored Tim’s crop-raiding activity since September 2016 to seek insights that might help mitigate his and other elephants’ destructive behaviour. Combining STE’s intensive real time tracking capabilities with Big Life’s boots on the ground to coordinate ranger patrols is proving to be an effective deterrence. 

The importance of these ranger patrols in protecting elephants can not be underestimated especially as many elephants seem undeterred by the threat of spears or arrows. Tim in fact was back raiding nearby farms less than a month after he’d suffered his superficial trunk wound in February.

As for Tim’s future? After a tumultuous couple of years, Tim looks to be in good condition and there are high hopes he will come into musth later this year and take a break from crop-raiding to pass on his impressive genes to the next generation.

Tim the naughty crop raider ©Ryan Wilkie