Location > Botswana – North Okavango Panhandle –Villages of Tobera, Kapatura and Tobera 4
Project duration > 3 years.
Start date > January 2016.
Planned completion date > December 2018
The North-western region of the Okavango Delta is cut off between the delta and the border with Namibia. The movement of animal populations is restricted there by the border and the veterinary barriers established in the region. 15,000 elephants were recorded in the area with a human population of 15,000 inhabitants, making it an area that is particularly vulnerable to human-elephant conflicts.
At the end of the rainy season, between April and June, there are significant elephant migrations to the river. This period coincides with the harvest season, which adds to the potential crop damage caused by the elephant herds. Some farmers see their entire production destroyed by a single herd crossing their land. The people of Northern Okavango therefore feel particularly vulnerable to these attacks. This feeling of vulnerability and the very negative perception of these animals by the local people are made worse by the particularly difficult conditions in which they grow their crops, and the resulting poor yields: there is a need for a substantial supply of water, as the season of high intensity rainfall varies considerably, with very poor soil and unsuitable agricultural practices.
What is more, a number of village groups had the management of hunting concessions, and “trophy hunting” generated direct income for the residents. Since 2014, however, hunting has been officially prohibited throughout the country and the local communities have seen this resource disappear, making their situation more precarious.
At the same time, the government has for several years been encouraging the creation of areas managed by the communities for the purpose of conservation and the introduction of tourist infrastructures and activities for the benefit of the communities. Within this framework, the villages involved in the project have begun a process of setting up a management group to exploit an area designated “NG13”, formerly a hunting area that they wanted to convert into a tourist attraction. However, they lack the necessary resources, and the formalities are particularly burdensome for the communities.
In this context, the project intends to identify the causes of human-elephant conflicts in the region by taking a holistic approach and introducing the measures necessary to reduce them, working closely with local communities.
- Monitoring and understanding the movements of the elephants to prevent conflicts
- Making it possible for the communities to work together and introduce conservation and management measures for NG13.
- Initiating the establishment of tourist structures managed by the communities, with the profits helping to diversify their sources of income
- Introducing long-term crop protection measures and improving agricultural practices to reduce the feeling of vulnerability among the people.
“Human-Elephant Coexistence Okavango” was created in 2013, although the work of the scientists who founded this organisation began in 2008 in Botswana. Their work is dedicated to understanding and decreasing the conflicts between humans and the elephants by combining scientific research with practical actions in the field. They act on several levels: government agencies, local communities, regional stakeholders and the private sector.