Mayo Abakar is from Logone and Chari, near Lake Chad in the Far North of Cameroon, between Goulfey and Blangoua. He is a student at the Wildlife School in Garoua and in April this year attended a PACE lecture presented by our Coordinator during her visit to the area. The lecture focused on how PACE can be used to address human : wildlife conflict. The Director of the school had emphasised with great concern that this is a huge challenge in their part of the Sahel region – conflict between graziers and wildlife and also between farmers cultivating crops and marauding wildlife. PACE provides examples, on film, of solutions that communities have used to live peaceably alongside wildlife – examples include using chilli pepper, bells and lights to deter elephants from entering cropland.
In the group discussion at Garoua Abakar told us about a solution his people have found successful when they are cultivating their millet fields (October – December). They dig ditches around the fields, these often fill up with water which provides a useful ’reservoir’ for subsequent irrigation, but also discourages elephants from passing, thereby saving crops from damage, and preventing communities from feeling and behaving aggressively towards the elephants. “It is a traditional method, and a bit ‘costly’ (in time and labour) – ditches will be a metre wide and half a metre deep, but is effective”, “when elephants see the ditch they know it means they shouldn’t pass that way”, he told us!
Recently, a group of 6-8 elephants has unexpectedly visited the village and are troubling the inhabitants (who are already challenged by insecurity from Boko Haram) – not just on farms but right in the village. Abakar who is still working for his wildlife management qualification in Garoua 450 km to the south has taken the initiative to start monitoring the problem, to better understand and prepare for an awareness raising programme in September. He sent a phone with a camera up to his village so that friends could keep a record for him – some of the images below, demonstrate why PACE, outreach and help problem-solving can be needed for people who are the real guardians of Africa’s natural heritage. Elephants are pretty big creatures to have wandering around your neighbourhood at will, especially if they are hungry!!