Rural communities in Livingstone, Zambia, are suffering the devastating effects of human-elephant conflict, both economically and emotionally. While elephant populations have historically utilised the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, they are also now increasingly roaming into community farmland, destroying crops, killing livestock, and attacking local people. In common with many locations across Africa, elephants in this area have become increasingly bold. For Livingstone communities, conflict with elephants is an everyday issue, creating a climate of genuine fear and negative perceptions towards the species. This unfortunately has resulted in their persecution, with local people having no reason to support their conservation.
Understanding where these elephants are, and how they are utilising their environment - particularly in human-dominated areas - is vital to enable conflict mitigation strategies to be devised which are specific to this locale and this particular population. ALERT’s project to monitor migration and movement patterns has the potential to protect human and elephant lives in the Livingstone area, as co-existence is made possible. If conflict with elephants can be reduced, we anticipate an increased tolerance towards the species amongst local communities. Only then can the benefits of elephant presence begin to be appreciated, their conservation welcomed, and retaliation killings prevented.
We have already identified over 400 individuals utilising the Park and are gradually increasing our knowledge of migration and movement corridors. The goal of this latest phase of the project is to build a comprehensive picture of how elephants are getting from these boundaries into community farmlands. With a lack of roads making access difficult if not impossible in some areas, coupled with the fact that elephants mostly travel after dark, finding out how they are able to access farmland is a challenge. By fitting satellite radio collars to sample elephants, enabling us to monitor migration and movement patterns with greater accuracy and ease, we can assume them typical of the regional elephant population as a whole.
If ALERT can raise US$ 5,000, a family trust in the UK has pledged to donate a further US$ 10,000 to enable the purchase of five satellite radio collars. Please help us reach our target by making a donation – however small – today.