Mitigating Human-Wildlife Conflict

Farmers vs Elephants

Activity status: Ongoing
Area of Activity: Namaacha Valley, Mozambique

Human-wildlife conflict is a growing issue that arises when human populations expand into natural habitats and come into contact with wild animals. This conflict can result in property damage, livestock predation, and human injuries or fatalities. To mitigate human-wildlife conflict, various strategies can be implemented, including habitat restoration and management, education and awareness programs, and the use of deterrents and non-lethal management techniques such as electric fencing, crop rotation, and predator-proof livestock enclosures.

Additionally, involving local communities in the conservation and management of wildlife can foster a sense of ownership and responsibility, reducing the likelihood of conflict. Tackling human-wildlife conflict requires a comprehensive approach that considers both the needs of humans and the conservation of wildlife.

Ultimately, conservation efforts must be sustainable and equitable, taking into account the complex social, economic, and environmental factors that contribute to the conflict. By promoting coexistence and implementing effective mitigation strategies, we can reduce the negative impacts of human-wildlife conflict and promote conservation efforts that benefit both humans and wildlife.

After visiting various regions which are considered hotspots for human-elephant conflict, Wild at Life e.V. have witnessed a complete lack of protection for local farmers.

Many complained that they are constantly being raided, but quite a number of them don’t even have fences that 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 at Life e.V. has teamed up with Saving the Survivors to help both elephants and farmers, where in such conflicts, one of them usually gets harmed. With Saving the Survivors, we deployed Human-Elephant Co-Existence (HEC) toolboxes in Mozambique which have proved successful in helping to equip communities to defend themselves and their crops against elephants in ways that are safe for both humans and animals.

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

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 of reflective tape should help reduce the conflict.

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 for communities affected by HEC.

Project Goals

To equip three teams in Matutuíne, Namaacha, and Moamba districts with an easy-to-use, affordable, and effective range of methods that can rapidly be deployed in eminent conflict situations or soon after HEC reports are communicated to authorities.

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
300m of rope and reflective tape to fence small agriculture fields or elephant pathways
2 airhorns

Preliminary Results

In Maputo Special Reserve (MSR), the box was deployed in one location identified by the human-wildlife conflict team as an area with recurring conflicts. The box stayed in the location for four 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, were 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 substituting the nylon rope for a sisal rope which will allow them to

  1. soak 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. After the measures, the elephants do not pass and continue on their journey and never went any further than the farmer’s fields.

These measures to eliminate conflict between humans and elephants are safe for both populations. Conservation is about co-existence, we must find ways to protect and share the landscapes with their natural inhabitants.

No results found.

This project is carried out in the following activity areas

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