Ensuring peaceful coexistence between people and wildlife is at the forefront of Peace Parks Foundation’s mission to secure sustainable conservation at scale. Working in vast transboundary landscapes that are mostly unfenced and span thousands of kilometres, which include not just wilderness areas but rural communities too, requires protection of communities and wildlife alike.
Several communities in the vicinity of Maputo National Park comprise small-scale farmers that grow vegetables and fruit, and rear cattle as their main livelihood source. With elephants and other wildlife able to roam freely into these communities, conflict is a very real threat. Elephant herds sometimes wander into crop fields in search of food and can destroy them due to their impactful size and swagger, and by raiding them for food. Protecting people and property from elephants requires swift action, and community rangers are being trained and equipped to be rapid responders.
Members of the public from the affected communities are empowered by the methods and techniques taught that deter elephants from community land. The training consists of both theoretical and practical components. The role and expectations of a community ranger are highlighted and, in practice, they are taught how to handle different types of equipment and how to prepare chilli bricks.
So far, 13 community rangers have been trained and, with further funding, Mozambique’s National Association for Conservation Areas is eager to expand the programme to communities along the southern reaches of the park. Importantly, the programme is being received positively by communities, which helps maintain trust relationships between them and the park, vital for the sustainability of the park and the sharing of benefits from conservation.
Check out our recent Peace Parks TV episode that explains how chilli bricks are used and made by community rangers, and visit peaceparks.org/getinvolved to see how you can support community rangers who are helping to secure peaceful coexistence between people and wildlife.