Human – elephant conflict has become a big problem in south west Chad. As climate and habitats change, and human populations increase, the boundaries between space for elephants and space for people are breaking down. Elephant have fewer places where they can feel safe, and people are losing their means of subsistence, some are losing their lives.
When Environnement Sahel, a Chadian NGO, visited communities in the Province of Logone Occidental in November reports from different villages included:
- ‘Six to eight elephants are resident in the local area, and groups of up to 100 visit.’
- ‘Elephants regularly enter the village overnight.’
- ‘Two people were killed over a three year period, and two more in the past year.’
- ‘In September 32 ha of fields were destroyed and one person killed. They tramble crops, and will destroy or eat everything growing in the fields.’
Most people in the effected communities are subsistence farmers, who depend on their fruit trees, and crops like cassava, groundnuts, millet, rice, potatoes and maize. Elephants consume these crops in fields, feed on fruit trees and out of season they even raid grain stores. Cotton plants get crushed as elephants cross fields.
In January this year Environnement Sahel and the Ministry of Wildlife and Protected areas started working with local communities to help them find the solutions they are crying out for. The Cantons of Tapol, Beissa, Laokassi and Dafra (the latter in Tandjile Province) are the most affected areas. Villages have now set up local action networks to monitor and try to avoid conflict human wildlife conflict. They have mapped their localities – the vegetation, community and natural resources, areas to protect for wildlife, areas for resource use, for building homes, farming and for pasture.
The maps are being used to start establishing land use zones and protected areas.
We are really pleased that the conservationists, government stakeholders and communities are finding the PACE resources useful in this process. They have been used to introduce people to ways they can address some of their problems, and simultaneously reduce need to encroach on habitats needed by wildlife.
As well as monitoring conflict, ways to zone and protect areas and enforce laws, outreach and education has included –
- Diversification – to adjust to climate changes.
- Soil – conservation agriculture techniques that increase output.
- Energy – efficient wood energy use to reduce land degradation.
- Tree planting and agroforestry – to increase soil health and supply tree products.
- Techniques to prevent and contain wild fires.
- Water management.
Environnment Sahel have translated the PACE reader, and have visited local schools that are keen to get involved.
Human wildlife conflict can be complex, it won’t be a quick fix, but we are happy to assist the process.