Side by Side: living with wildlife

We are helping people share the landscape with wildlife. As human populations grow, wildlife habitat shrinks while the interface between people and animals increase. Both compete for needed resources. When interests of people and wildlife are at odds, usually nobody wins. Working with local communities living in wildlife areas, EWB is dedicated to finding  solutions that are simple and sustainable. Long-term success relies on education & awareness, proper land-use planning and sustainable livelihoods to relieve poverty. 

Side-by-Side Initiative

In Africa, there are places that people, elephants and wildlife live side by side. Perhaps to observers, that may seem astounding or inspiring! But, the reality is that this interface can also be problematic or detrimental for both elephants and people where “conflict” my occur between them. EWB’s Side-by-Side initiative provides assistance to farming families with training and mitigation techniques to deter elephants from farms and property, with a goal to reduce conflict incidences. We are at the side of these families empowering communities by providing support, improving and diversifying their crop yields, which stimulates the economy and their livelihoods to build a more sustainable and cohesive coexistence between people and wildlife. 

The program is enhanced by our educational “Safety Living with Wildlife” workshops and a new initiative offering training in sustainable agriculture practices. 

When crops are harvested, we offer free grain crushing in the villages we work in. It is a service we offer to any farmer that has successfully had a yield that wants to process it, whether for household consumption or economic gain. 

EleSenses, Elephant Repellant Toolkit

EleSenses makes sense! Traditionally, farmers would bang on drums and pots, or 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 be effective in some places, but are labor, time, and cost intensive, while both can be unpleasant to handle. Yet other mitigations, 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 are used around crops and property. The toolkit aims to deter elephants by targeting their five senses, containing: poly wire rope (touch), motion-sensor alarms (sound), solar-triggered lights (sight), and a natural, organic oil repellant (smell, taste). 

Small- scale Corridors

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 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 through an ever-changing mosaic of human land-use.

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 (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 corridors potential effectiveness to alleviate conflict. This information is vital and shared with a range of stakeholders for consideration in land-use allocation and provides indications of how wildlife adapt to people and development.

Safety Living with Wildlife Workshops

Botswana’s Chobe district is mainly a wildlife area that hosts a large portion of the country’s elephant population. Here, people create a living within scattered villages and townships along the edges of Chobe National Park and river system of the Chobe to Zambezi Rivers. Now, in areas that were once undeveloped forested habitat, wildlife that need to access the river system have to contend with continually adapting to their pathways being severed or no longer accessible due to the expanding mosaic of development, housing, businesses and roads. In addition, many people are moving into the District from non-wildlife areas of the country to find employment in the booming tourism industry. But without knowledge, experience or tolerance living with wildlife… this makes for a volatile situation… In response, EWB has created several “Safety while Living with Wildlife” talks, which we present at workshops to communities, businesses and schools to help ensure people understand how best to avoid or respond when coming in contact with wildlife.  Also see our Side-by-Side initiative.

People’s Perceptions

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 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.