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Addressing the problem of human-wildlife conflict


I’ve written before about the problem of human-wildlife conflict in Kwale and I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some of the progress that we’ve made over the last few months.

Living in close proximity to wildlife can be a real challenge. In the Shimba Hills region, elephants are a particular problem as they often range outside of the national reserve and onto community land, destroying farms as they go. In addition to negatively impacting livelihoods, by ranging outside of the protected area, these elephants also put themselves at greater risk from poaching.

Community-members-digging-trenches to protect their crops from wildlifeCommunity members digging trenches to protect their crops from wildlife © Cath Lawson / WWF-UK

Over the last year, we’ve been working hard with the Kenya Wildlife Service to map out areas that are hotpots for human-wildlife conflict. In those areas, we’ve been establishing committees to involve local people in management of the conflict. What’s great to see is that since the establishment of these committees, the relationship between wildlife management authorities and the communities has improved significantly and these two groups are working together to solve the challenges that are being faced.

One of the solutions being implemented in some areas is the digging of a large trench along the reserve parameter fence. Where this has been done, the problem of elephants ranging onto farmland has basically stopped. But digging this trench is a tough job – it’s six feet deep in some places and is dug by hand. What’s more, the community have to juggle digging with tending their farms and protecting their crops from wildlife which remain a threat until the trench is complete. We’ve been supporting this work and recently I was able to take one committee a new set of tools to help with their digging efforts.

Fencing and trench at a human wildlife conflict hotspot around Shimba Hills National ReserveFencing and trench at a human wildlife conflict hotspot around Shimba Hills National Reserve © Cath Lawson / WWF-UK

Another solution to the problem of human-wildlife conflict involves something which is probably a common sight in Wales – bees! Elephants aren’t big fans of bees as they fly up their trunks and sting them so bees can effectively be used to deter elephants away from farmland. The great thing is that people can also benefit from the profits made from the honey the bees produce – so everyone’s a winner! And I can vouch for the fact that the honey is delicious…

What are your views on human-wildlife conflict? Leave a comment on Elias’ blog.

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