Many wildlife species seasonally migrate in and around conservation areas. Unfortunately, as human population is increasing in many African countries, people and wildlife are competing for space and human-wildlife conflict is dramatically increasing.
People living adjacent to wildlife areas often rely heavily on the crops they grow or the livestock they support to feed their families. When wild animals raid a crop field or kill livestock, it is of major consequences for that particular farmer. In many instances it may result in deadly interactions with farmers trying to defend their fields, whereby farmers or the wildlife may end up injured or even dead.
How to solve the problem?
PAMS has been primarily focusing on human-elephant conflict. Today, worldwide, there are many different techniques for deterring elephants. Deterrence through the noise of thunder crackers or gunfire are aggressive methods that can scare animals away, but will also make them nervous and cause them to associate the source of disturbance and fear with humans. Electric fences or beehive barriers require a high level of maintenance, energy, and resources. These methods can solve the problem temporarily, but they risk increasing mistrust and aggression between humans and animals and require more and more work to be kept effective.
The philosophy of PAMS has been to find a non-aggressive, easy to apply and low maintenance method to facilitate peaceful human wildlife coexistence.
PAMS supports local farmers to erect chili fences, which is apassive, non-aggressive method to dissuade elephants from entering populated and cultivated areas, which is inexpensive both in terms of money and work.
A chili fence is made by grinding up dried chili peppers, mixing it with old engine oil and soaking cloth and rope in this mixture. The cloth is then hung up, like a washing line on rope, along the side of the farm which is exposed to wildlife. It is important, however, to reapply this chili mixture regularly to ensure the chili smell remains strong. Elephants don’t like the smell of chili and simply avoid these areas.
Today more than 160 km of chili fence barriers have been installed and have proven to be very effective. Farmers can now sleep peacefully at night knowing their crops and food for their family is safe from elephants. More and more farmers are asking for the assistance of PAMS to start protecting their fields with chili barriers.
Local rangers (often reformed poachers) are also encouraged to grow chili crops themselves, collaborating with PAMS on the project and trained by PAMS in human-wildlife conflict mitigation best practices. Farmers are able to plant chili peppers in their fields to build their own chili fence to protect their property, or to sell to other farmers who want to protect their crops, or simply as a product at the market. This serves to bring in an additional source of revenue to their family and local economy. Chili cultivation is becoming a new livelihood and source of income for the local communities, a first step to make human-wildlife coexistence an economically rewarding effort.
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