Humans in the path of expanding elephant population

Experts have warned that the African elephant could be wiped out in 20 years, but in some parts of Tanzania the beast is making a comeback — leading to conflicts with nearby humans. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

After the dramatic loss of 60 percent of it’s elephants in just five years, the elephant is making a comeback in some areas, leading to human wildlife conflicts across Tanzania.

In May, four elephants roamed the University of Dodoma campus, bringing the state run university to a standstill for the day; Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) rangers were called in and the elephants were eventually scared off.

Last month, elephants in Arusha destroyed 43 hectares of crops; a day later two farmers in Singida were killed by a herd of 32 elephants.

“While human wildlife conflict can result to deaths of human beings, destruction of crops and homes, likewise wild animals bear the same brunt as some of them like elephants get killed by humans who live in communities adjacent to protected areas,” says Isaac Yohana Chamba.

Chamba is investigating novel approaches and techniques to prevent and mitigate human-elephant conflict in collaboration with Singita Grumeti Fund.

He says the lack of buffer space between protected areas and human settlements is a ‘call for alarm’ likely to leave ‘a trail of destruction.’

A 2014 study showed that the average household bordering Serengeti National Park lost approximately 54,000 TSH to crop damage that year.

One innovative study is using beehive fences to deter naturally bee-shy elephants from farms — but Chamba says he believes the best permanent solution is to remove people from the buffer zones.

“There should be provision of an effective conservation awareness education among local people so that they can understand the importance of wildlife resources in terms of socio-economic, cultural and ecological aspects. Other ways could be creation of an effective buffer zone or provision of compensation and evacuate people from conflict zones.”

Editor’s note: Paragraphs 4&5 re-worded at 14:00 to include mention of Chamba’s collaboration with SGF.

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2 Comments on "Humans in the path of expanding elephant population"

  1. Daniel Chilonzi | June 23, 2017 at 07:53 |

    Conflict between humans and elephant now is the cross cuting issue in Tanzania, to solve this there is a need of providing education and awareness to the community around the protected area.Also to reduce agriculture and pastoralism activities in protected areas

  2. Ignatus Joel Pesha | June 23, 2017 at 10:23 |

    Its difficult to prevent people from cultivating crop and keeping livestok especialy those who are leaving adjacent to Protected areas, the best way to eradicate HWC/EHC is to educate people about utilization of different mitigation measures on the same PA such as use of beehives, using strictly rules, creation of boundaries. If all those measures fail we need to use fence because human population will always increases and elephant population will also increase if there is no proper measures to maintain their population and enventualy the conflict will still be there as refered to carrying capacity concept

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