We are helping people share the landscape with wildlife. As human populations grow, wildlife habitat shrinks and the interface between people and animals increase, as both compete for needed resources. When interests of people and wildlife are at odds, usually nobody wins. Working with local communities living on the frontline of conflict, EWB is dedicated to finding efficient solutions that are simple and sustainable. But, it is not enough to just chase wildlife away. Long-term success relies on education & awareness, proper land-use planning and alternative livelihoods to relieve poverty.
EleSenses, Elephant Repellant Project
EleSenses makes sense! Traditionally, farmers would bang on drums and pots, or would hang strings of cans or other materials around their crops to deter elephants. More modern techniques, such as chili pepper oils/smoke or beehives might prove to be effective in some places, but are labor, time, and cost intensive. And, both can be unpleasant to handle. Yet others, such as large electric fences, are fixed and expensive.
EWB’s ‘EleSenses’ toolkit is a low-cost, user-friendly, mobile, solar-powered/green, sustainable, mitigation system aimed to protect human lives and property. The tools have been tried and tested with substantial success and have been used around crops, property and recently, at a school! The toolkit aims to deter elephants by targeting their five senses: touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. The toolkit contains: Solar-powered single-strands of electric poli-wire rope (Touch), Solar-powered motion-sensor alarms and lights (Sound and Sight), and a natural, organic oil repellant (Smell and Taste).
The smell and taste of the potion are distasteful and can discourage elephants from entering a person’s property. This potion is also being applied to Africa’s iconic Baobab trees, which have been damaged by elephants in some areas.
Human-wildlife conflict needs to be redirected towards “conflict prevention” rather than just mitigation. Land-use planning is key. But where land is already allocated for villages and farmlands, competition for resources is high, especially along permanent water sources and vegetation rich floodplains.
Small scale urban corridors can be effective tools to avoid potential wildlife conflict by allowing wildlife to safely access needed resources. Without access, wildlife have no other choice but to find their own adaptive way, in order to survive.
EWB has been conducting long-term studies monitoring elephants and wildlife movements across the landscape, at both; a broad scale of international movements between countries (see Tracking) and at a fine spatial scale around villages and towns. Corridors are identified by wildlife’s movements between needed resources. Once identified, we carefully monitor each pathway, using camera traps, and other methods, to determine its potential effectiveness to alleviate conflict. This information is vital and is shared with a range of stakeholders to incorporate corridors into land-use management plans and provides indications of how wildlife is adapting to people and development, over time.
EWB’s “Living with Wildlife” workshops are held throughout the villages in Chobe District. The presentations are focused on learning about specific wildlife species, especially those that affect the communities. The target subjects and discussions are chosen by the community members, which have ranged from larger wildlife species, such as elephants, lions, hippos and crocodiles, but interest is also shown on the lesser known animals, such as porcupine, bushpig and jackal. They have been well attended and in high demand, so many more are being arranged. Similar presentations are also being presented in the schools throughout the District, but would like to broaden the scope to communities across the country, where needed. Also see Education & Outreach page
Wildlife-based tourism and related businesses are the focus in northern Botswana, which generates significant value for local people and the country. However, often rural residents and subsistence farmers feel that they have been left behind. There is a need to create alternative small-scale, attainable enterprises to improve these villagers quality of life, so they can benefit and see wildlife conservation as a welcome economic opportunity. EWB is helping small-scale development projects, such as support for the Women’s Basket-weaving Coop comprised of groups of women from 3 villages, by designing and purchasing signs and materials to help them market their ware.
“Lethaka Ladies” hand-made sustainable reed straw initiative offers an alternative income from traditional farming to support women based in the farming villages of Chobe West. The natural, reusable drinking straws are made out of Lethaka reeds that grow on the banks of the Chobe Enclave floodplain. Ladies in Kavimba, harvest and create the straws, which we then help market to the local tourism operators. We are proud to note that the initiative has made it to Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone, thanks to Learn to Play and Just Ginger Beverages.
We discuss and listen to community members to hear their personal experiences with wildlife and their suggestions on different strategies they believe will work to address issues they experience.
EWB has also supported a number of social studies, recording community and other stakeholders perspectives on ways to live with wildlife and what they envision for future plans, both at a community level and at a nationwide level. This data provides an information base to discuss elephants and wildlife management, facilitate conflict resolution, across different developmental landscapes. It also provides a platform for communities to express their opinions to stakeholders on future wildlife management plans.