In Maputo National Park, human-elephant conflict remains a challenge that the parks’ staff is constantly trying to resolve. Thanks to the dedicated ranger protection efforts, elephant populations are now thriving. Unfortunately, despite the abundance of nutritious food and safety that the park provides, a few of these smart giants have other plans.
A trio of elephant bulls have been causing havoc for the staff and communities living in the buffer zone of the park. They have made a habit of breaking the park’s fence to reach the tasty crops grown by farmers in the local villages.
Today, Peace Parks Foundation, Mozambique Wildlife Alliance and Elephants Alive! have caught the three elephants in the act of breaking the fence. They quickly responded by darting one young bull and embarked on a collaring operation that will help to understand and monitor the trio’s movements.
Simply put, elephants are running out of space. With the ever-expanding human population, the once natural and untouched habitats that existed outside of protected areas like Maputo National Park, are fast being converted to farmland used by rural communities. Human-elephant conflict is a major and complex issue which affects both elephants and villages that live in the buffer zone of these protected areas.
With their phenomenal sense of smell and incredible memory, elephants can very quickly find the source of the delicious smells coming from farmers’ vegetable gardens. Due to their large appetites and untidy table manners, a single elephant can uproot and destroy a whole field within minutes. This results in farmers losing their entire harvest for the season.
To avoid this, many communities who encounter these so-called ‘problem-elephants’ will do whatever it takes to protect their precious crops. This is extremely dangerous for both elephants and people.
Testing Different Methods
Throughout Africa, there are many different methods that have been implemented within different regions to try and reduce human-elephant conflict but finding effective and inexpensive solutions has proven extremely difficult.
Beehive fences, which is the method of surrounding crops fields or fencing with beehives has so far proven to be a sustainable and effective method. This helps to deter elephants based on their natural fear of bees and provides honey, which can either be eaten or sold, within the local communities.
The Benefits Of Collaring
In the last 100 years, Africa’s elephants have declined by 97% and the need to ensure their survival and conserve their habitats has never been greater. Elephants Alive!’s Jessica Wilmot explains that collaring this elephant bull will help them to do just that!
These GPS collars allows the teams to see how, when and where the elephants move and what mitigation methods will be most effective. By stopping elephants from raiding crops, the co-existence between elephants and people is promoted – a win-win for both parties.