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Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Namaacha Valley Mozambique

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Wild@Life does not want to lose sight of perhaps the most significant issue for elephants today across Africa, that of an increasing human population, climate change and an ever-increasing fragmentation of wildlife areas. This is going to be one of the hardest threats to elephants to combat over the next 50 years. Visiting various regions which are considered human elephant conflict hot-spots, we have witnessed a complete lack of protection for poor local farmers. Many complain that they are constantly raided, but quite a few of them don’t even have a simple fence to act as a barrier between them and the hungry elephants. There is a clear need for more awareness among farmers, empowering them to take care of their land, while increasing their love for the species, albeit from a safe distance.

Wild@Life has teamed up with Saving the Survivors to protect both elephants and the farmers entering a conflict. In such situations one of them gets harmed. Human Wildlife Conflict mitigation is an essential mission in order to protect the Biodiversity and the Communities. With our partner we have deployed some HEC toolboxes in Mozambique which have proved successful in helping equip communities to defend themselves and their crops against Elephants in ways that are safe for humans and animals. 

In Namaacha valley, Southern Mozambique, there is seasonal conflict caused by a herd of bulls raiding crops in the community area nearby.

Pic. 1-Elephant herd in Namaacha valleu and gorge on the background

There is a gorge of about 500m that the animals use to cross, and with the encouraging results from the tests of the HEC toolboxes, closing that gap using a line with reflective tape should help reduce the conflict.

Pic. 2-Elephant movement in the gorge that needs to be blocked. Image courtesy from Elephants Alive

The HEC toolbox

The Mobile HEC toolboxes were developed to provide the SDAEs (District authorities) and conservation areas with response capacity to dynamic HEC situations and a fighting chance to communities affected by HEC.

Project goals

1 -To equip 3 teams in elephant range country (Matutuíne, Namaacha, Moamba districts) with a simple, easy to use, cheap, and effective range of methods that can rapidly be deployed in eminent conflict situations or soon after HEC reports are communicated to authorities.
2- To test and assess the mobile toolbox concept for two months in the 3 key districts

Box contents

Each box contains a range of deterrent techniques that can be adapted according to specific situations
and includes:
– 10 Firecrackers
– 2 solar high-power LED torches
– 300 meters of rope and reflective tape to fence small agriculture fields or elephant pathways
– 2 Airhorns

Preliminary results

Maputo Special Reserve (MSR)

In MSR, the box was deployed in one location identified by the Human-Wildlife Conflict team as an area with recurrent conflict events with grave damage to fields. The box stayed in the location for 4 weeks and during that period no conflict was registered despite several
attempts by the herds. When there was evidence of attempted incursions by elephants, it was noted that the reflective tape hung in the rope and/or the light of the torches and in one last case, the air horn was sufficient to deter the herds that were approaching the field. On one occasion the elephants chose to knock down the electric fence of the Reserve instead of going through where the rope with reflective tape was installed. The communities received the box with great satisfaction, but suggest that fixed torches/spotlights are placed in the fence so that there is no danger of elephants charging whoever is holding the moving torch.

The technicians that used the boxes also suggest that substituting the nylon rope for a sisal rope which will allow to: 1-soak it in creosote or other substance with a strong repelling smell to elephants; 2-avoid thefts of rope which can be used for snares.

As you can see from the picture, before the “fence” was installed, the Elephants freely and regularly accessed the crops via the narrow valley, but after the measures, you can see the Elephants do not pass and continue on their journey.

These measures to eliminate conflict between Humans and Elephants are safe for the people and the animals. There is no need for the Elephants to cross that valley, other than for an easy meal. As you can see from their tracks, they never went any further than the farmer’s fields.

Conservation is about co-existence, we must find ways to protect and share the landscapes with their natural inhabitants.

We will continue to monitor the project and see the impact on the longer term and continue our partnership with Saving the Survivors.

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Thank you for believing in us.

Asli Han Gedik

Wild@Life e.V.