PAMS implements non-aggressive, passive, easy to apply and low maintenance methods to facilitate peaceful human-wildlife coexistence.
What is the problem?
Seasonally, a variety of wildlife species migrate around and through conservation areas. Unfortunately, as the human population increases in many African countries, people and wildlife find themselves competing for both space and resources, resulting in a dramatic increase in human-wildlife conflict.
People living adjacent to wildlife areas rely heavily on the crops they grow, or the livestock they keep, to feed and support their families. When wild animals raid crops or kill livestock, farmers suffer dire losses. This can lead to violent interaction as farmers try to defend their food crops and livelihoods. All too often this has resulted in severe injury or even the death of farmers or wildlife.
How to solve the problem?
PAMS has been focusing primarily on human-elephant conflict. Today, worldwide, there are many different techniques for deterring elephants. Thunder crackers or gunfire are violent methods that scare animals away, but they can also make elephants nervous or even aggressive, causing them to associate the noise and fear with humans. Electric fences or beehive barriers are equally successful but they’re high maintenance, and require a lot of attention and resources. These methods can solve the problem temporarily, but they risk increasing the mistrust and aggression between humans and wildlife, thereby making the problem worse.
PAMS philosophy has been to find a non-aggressive, passive, easy to apply and low maintenance method to facilitate peaceful human-wildlife coexistence.
PAMS trains local farmers on how to erect chili fences – a suitably passive, non-aggressive method of discouraging elephants from entering populated and cultivated areas.
A chili fence is made by grinding up dried chili peppers, mixing them with old engine oil and soaking cloth and rope in the mixture. The cloth is then hung up, like clothes on a washing line, on rope stretched along the borders of the farm that are exposed to wildlife. It is important to reapply the chili mixture regularly to ensure the chili smell is strong. Elephants don’t like the smell of chili and just avoid these areas. It’s a simple, practical system that is low cost and low maintenance. After the initial chili fence training, PAMS provides the necessary ongoing supplies to enable farmers to continue erecting these fences until they are financially able to do so themselves.
Today, more than 450 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 the food for their families are safe from elephants. More and more farmers are asking for assistance from PAMS to start protecting their fields with chili barriers.
In collaboration with PAMS, local rangers (often reformed poachers), trained by PAMS in human-wildlife conflict mitigation best practices, are also being encouraged to grow chili crops themselves. Farmers are able to plant chili peppers in their fields to either build their own chili fences to protect their property, or to sell to other farmers who want to protect their crops, or simply as a product to sell at the market. This serves to bring in additional sources of revenue to their families and local economies. Chili cultivation is becoming a new livelihood and source of income for the local communities, a first real step to make human-wildlife coexistence an economically rewarding effort.
Human-Wildlife Coexistence results
- The PAMS Public Private Partnership, a multi-agency, intelligence led, community through to national and international approach, has been recognised as an effective Illegal Wildlife Trafficking model for other countries to adopt.
- PAMS has helped reduce Human-Wildlife conflict and promote co-existence in the Ruvuma Region, Southern Tanzania, through a long running program of working with Village Game Scouts, erecting chili fences and community education and engagement.