ELEPHANT CONSERVATION AND HUMAN ELEPHANT CONFLICT MITIGATION PROGRAMME

CCFA is pleased to support an initiative that is creating harmony between communities and wildlife in the Kunene region of Namibia.

Ombonde People’s Park, located in the Kunene region, is home to desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, lion and cheetah – all vulnerable or threatened in Africa.  The Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation’s (IRDNC) Elephant conservation and human elephant mitigation programme, aims to prevent poaching in the area, while enhancing and building on community ownership of wildlife and natural resources. This is an authentic partnership between community conservancies and the government.

Drought is a constant threat that affects basic living standards and survival. It creates social strains such as unemployment, hunger and an increase in human-wildlife conflict scenarios. Many predators have moved closer to the homesteads, preying on livestock and destroying gardens because they are struggling to source water and food in their own habitats. Similarly, some farmers are encroaching on core wildlife zones in search of better grazing opportunities for their livestock.

There are currently 674 conservancy members working towards the common goal to live peacefully alongside wildlife by employing sustainable livelihood practices.

Various meetings held between January 2018 and August 2019, facilitated by the IRDNC team members, focused on plans to introduce a community garden and erect a solar powered electric fence to protect it from elephants and other wildlife.

Funding for the project was approved after we received a project outline and application at the 2018 Conservation Lab. It is a project that is in line with our overarching ethos: Working with local communities to preserve conservation.

Recently CCFA donated U$25 000 toward the cost of erecting an electric fence around the community’s food garden which is about 140 625 m² (14 hectares). In addition to the fence, we have also secured a commitment from the local council to provide water to the conservancy, to ensure the farming project is sustainable and improves the lives of the community.

The electric fence will be comprised of 3 live strands and 2 earth wires. The energiser is a powerful unit, with 8 Joules stored energy – strong enough to deter elephants. It includes a solar PV panel and cover and operates independently of any grid.

The easy to assemble and maintain system, will be installed by the community and overseen by the IRDNC Human Wildlife Support team. The community has been tasked to nominate a ‘tech savvy’ community member to be trained on how to install the fence and operate the ‘fence tester’ apparatus to allow for fuss free maintenance.  There will be community ownership regarding the upkeep of the property.

 

Although this practical intervention – the installation of an electric fence – has addressed one of the major problems faced by the community, ongoing strategic interaction between the IRDNC and surrounding communities will continue in the form of:

  • Continuing to identify community concerns around the encroaching elephant population, in order to formulate effective actions towards a more peaceful co-existence.
  • Creating and maintaining awareness about the negative impact of elephant poaching as well as the economic and environmental benefits of cohabiting peacefully with the elephants
  • Monitoring of elephant populations and their movements
  • Gathering data around elephant conflict and determining the cost of any damage to properties and farming livestock to find creative solutions to mitigate these situations
  • Incentivising communities by adding value through tourism, offering training that will enable them to find jobs in the wildlife tourism industry.

 

Latest Update

Over the past year great strides have been made in the Kunene Region of Namibia to help create harmonious living conditions between the 674 Ongongo conservancy members – living within the Ombonde People’s Park – and neighbouring wildlife.

The problem

Drought remains the main environmental problem experienced by the Ongongo conservancy. It impacts basic survival and living standards, creates social strains such as unemployment and hunger and increases human-wildlife conflict scenarios. Many predators have moved closer to the homesteads because they are struggling to source water and food in their own habitats and, similarly, some farmers are encroaching on core wildlife zones in search of better grazing opportunities for their livestock.

 

 

The easy to assemble and maintain fence was installed by the 20-strong team, overseen by the IRDNC Human Wildlife Support team.

Designed to deter the elephants, the fence comprises 3 live strands and 2 earth wires.  The energizer is a powerful unit with 8 joules stored energy and comes with a solar PV panel and cover and operates independently of any grid.

The solution

This particular project focused on assisting the community, especially the women, by erecting an electric fence around the community garden to deter elephants – and other animals – from ruining their crops.

 

 

Transferring of skills

The community were educated about the hazards of the ‘live’ fence and how to avoid contact with electricity. Two community members have been trained to monitor and guard the fence while another two are now competent to offer technical support and fence maintenance.

Next steps

Although this practical intervention has addressed one of the major problems faced by the community, ongoing strategic interaction between the IRDNC and surrounding communities will continue in the form of:

  • Identifying community concerns around the encroaching elephant population to help formulate effective actions that will allow a peaceful co-existence
  • Creating and maintaining awareness about the negative impact of elephant poaching as well as the economic and environmental benefits of cohabiting peacefully with the elephants
  • Monitoring the elephant populations and their movements
  • Gathering data around elephant conflict to determine the cost of any damage to properties and farming livestock to find creative solutions to mitigate these situations
  • Incentivising communities by adding value through tourism – offering training to enable them to find employment within the wildlife tourism industry.

Despite the impact on supply chains due to Covid-19 restrictions and subsequent lockdowns, the necessary materials were procured and 20 residents (15 men and 5 women) were nominated to help with the construction, this included:

  • Sourcing fencing poles
  • Collecting and dressing the poles
  • Digging holes and cement corner posts (5), gate posts (1) and stays (12)
  • Cleaning of the fence line
  • Stringing and fastening wires
  • Closing the fence for small stock

Nearly all the countries in the world have promised to improve the planet and the lives of its citizens by 2030.

They’ve committed themselves to 17 life-changing goals, outlined by the UN in 2015. These Global Goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), include ending extreme poverty, giving people better healthcare, and achieving equality for women.  The aim is for all countries to work together to ensure no one is left behind.

This project is aligned with the following goals: