Empowering communities to coexist with elephants

by Elephants for Africa
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Empowering communities to coexist with elephants
Empowering communities to coexist with elephants
Empowering communities to coexist with elephants
Empowering communities to coexist with elephants
Empowering communities to coexist with elephants
Empowering communities to coexist with elephants
Empowering communities to coexist with elephants
Empowering communities to coexist with elephants
Empowering communities to coexist with elephants
Mogomotsi teaching in Khumaga Primary School
Mogomotsi teaching in Khumaga Primary School

It is with great joy that I can report that we are now back at our four partner schools, starting back in February after various meetings with the Environmental Club teachers and junior secondary school staff in January, where we introduced them to Mogomotsi Radinonyane, our new Community Outreach Officer who will lead our school’s education programme.

Mogomotsi attributes his love of nature to when he was a young boy herding the family goats, harvesting the wild fruits on the way, learning about the signs of nature, listening to, and learning about the birds and other animals that shared his landscape. He comes to us from Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust where he was an Assistant Environmental Education Officer and Safari Guide. His fear is those future generations will only see elephants and other wildlife in photos, whilst we had the privilege of seeing them in the wild. I think you will agree that the students are in good hands and our programme will thrive under his guidance alongside the continued support and insight from Walona, our previous Community Outreach Officer.

The new year has started off well with 130 students engaged and eager to learn. Our first lesson focused on Food Chains, Food Webs and Trophic Cascades and this month we are learning about Pollution and Waste Management. As always, the classes are focused on being outside the classroom and engaging students in their environment, which the students and the teachers enjoy.

We are so grateful for your support that has enabled us to continue supporting the schools during the pandemic and now, with health and safety high on the agenda, as we reengage with them in person. We have reached our goal for this fundraiser as it was set up for a year, but we shall be duplicating the fundraising as this is an ongoing programme and so we hope you can continue to support us for the coming year(s).

Khumaga Primary School EEC litterpicking
Khumaga Primary School EEC litterpicking
Moreomaoto EEC playing an environmental game
Moreomaoto EEC playing an environmental game
Mogomotsi, our new Community Outreach Officer
Mogomotsi, our new Community Outreach Officer
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Farmer workshop at a cattle post
Farmer workshop at a cattle post

Whilst new Covid19 recommendations has made our work a little more challenging, this has certainly not stopped us and we are happy to report that we have been able to continue to engage with farmers in Khumaga and the surrounding cattle posts to deliver workshops on various mitigation measures in place to curb elephant crop-raiding. In order to adhere to covid-19 restrictions, the workshops were conducted with small groups of farmers, not exceeding 15 participants.

During the last quarter, we conducted four workshops on solar electric fencing in the cattle posts of Tsoi, Marotobolo, Bosobiya and Menoakwena. We are discussing electric fencings to encourage farmers to form cluster farms (where a group of farmers come together to protect their land) to limit the time each farmer needs to invest in protecting their land and decrease the footprint of agricultural land so that elephants can move easier through community lands. As with any mitigation tool, it is not a one tool-job and therefore all farmers are encouraged to continue to burn chilli as a means of communicating to elephants that this is not where they want to be.

To help increase local production of chilli we built the first chilli plot in the village of Moreomaoto. This is an expansion of our Community Coexistence Project into the village of Moreomaoto, so it a major milestone and one worth celebrating. The community members graced the occasion, with some expressing interests to have chilli plots in their own yards and as and when funding permits, we shall certainly facilitate this. Still, in Moreomaoto, we also held a stakeholder meeting, which was attended by the Tribal Authority, the Crop Officer in the village, Chief crop officer overseeing the Boteti area and local farmers. The farmers who were present expressed their interest to form a cluster farm so that they could benefit from EfA’s mitigation measures, particularly solar electric fencing and so word spreads quickly in these rural parts!

It is only through the generosity of you, our funders, that we have been able to achieve this and continue to support communities living alongside wildlife.  This will be the last report for this particular project as due to some success funding bids and other private donors we have met our total.

We will soon be bringing you a new project and introducing you to our Schools Education Program, a program that we are incredibly proud of and is part of our Community Outreach Program. Stay tuned and stay safe.

Best wishes

Dr Kate Evans

Finishing touches to the chilli plot
Finishing touches to the chilli plot
Building the chilli plot in Moreomaoto
Building the chilli plot in Moreomaoto
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Elephants visiting our newest team member in camp
Elephants visiting our newest team member in camp

Shumba, our 33-year old community vehicle, has been with us since 2015 and she and our Community Officer Mankind Molosiwa have done a great job providing the farmers in the Boteti region with mitigation materials to prevent elephant crop-raiding during the farming seasons. However, she developed numerous problems over the last few months which made it too costly to maintain her in the long run. We therefore had to make the decision to replace her.

Our new team member is Wendy, named in honour of the main funders mother. We wanted to show her off in her new role, out in the field with the elephants. Unfortunately, this has not been possible due to the Covid-19 restrictions we have been facing over the last months. Thankfully a couple of the elephants which frequently pass through camp took an interest in her, so we could get some great pictures.

We are grateful to all those that donated; we now have a good reliable vehicle to keep our staff as safe as possible when out in the field. We look forward to many new adventures as we unravel the mysteries of male elephant ecology and integrate this knowledge into our Community Coexistence Program to support the communities living alongside the elephants of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. We will, of course, keep you updated on our achievements along the way.

 

Best wishes,

The EfA team

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Fortunately, sometimes the elephants come to us
Fortunately, sometimes the elephants come to us

As you can imagine many changes and challenges have taken place since our last project report 3 months ago.

At the beginning of April Botswana declared a nationwide shutdown in response to the emerging Coronavirus crisis. This was in the middle of the farming season and meant we were not able to assist our partnering farmers on a daily basis as is our protocol. To make sure the farmers would have all mitigation materials they needed for the duration of the lockdown, to protect their harvest from crop-raiding elephants, the team worked tirelessly to drive hundreds of kilometres in a matter of days, supplying chilli and advice where needed. Luckily, the two old ladies of the team, Leya and Shumba (the vehicles), were on their best behaviour and so we were able to visit and assist all 36 farmers that ploughed this season.

Officially the lockdown lasted until the end of May however there are many restrictions still in place, but we are able to slowly start running our outreach and education programme again and have returned to the National Park for our research work. This may leave you wondering what we have done for the duration of the lockdown, well we have certainly been busy; team members working from home and from the camp have used the time to develop the lesson plans and 2-year curriculum for our new partnering school, the Junior Secondary School in Motopi. Through this new partnership, we are extending our program into the fourth community and we look forward to building on this. We developed new ideas for workshops and improved old ones, and we invested a considerable amount of time writing funding applications to make sure the new ideas can become a reality and we fill funding gaps that unfortunately have emerged due to this crisis. Much of our work is funded by the tourism industry and zoological societies, both of which have been hard hit by this crisis and thus have had to withdraw funding for the time being. They have all expressed their desire to continue supporting our work as and when they can, and we, of course, wish them well during this difficult time. We are thinking of all our wonderful funders and supporters throughout the world and hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.

Hopefully, in the next newsletter, we will be able to update you on some of the progress we made with of our new ideas.

Best wishes and stay safe.

The EfA Team

Wildebeests walking past the outdoor office
Wildebeests walking past the outdoor office
Thata working from home
Thata working from home

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Motopi 'Living WIth Elephants' workshop
Motopi 'Living WIth Elephants' workshop

Our community vehicles, Shumba and Leya, have been hard at work this year as good rains has seen many of the farmers we partner with invest lots of time and energy into preparing their fields. Thanks to your support we have given Leya a new oil cooler recently and she is hard at work distributing the mitigation material.

Sadly, Shumba is developing too many problems, which are proving too costly to maintain, and so it is time that we retired her from her role, and we will be looking to replace her as soon as possible.

Our outreach and education programme has now expanded to include the village of Motopi and their Junior Secondary school.  Motopi is a small community located about 10km from the north-western corner of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Due to its distance from the park Motopi is not considered a prime wildlife-conflict area. However, as most national parks and wildlife reserves in Botswana are unfenced, elephants freely move across community land far from park boundaries where they come into conflict with people. Like elsewhere in Botswana, Motopi has seen an increase in elephants over the past 10 years, with elephants now posing a real threat to the security and sustainability of the livelihoods of many community members. It is likely that our assistance is required further afield in the future and thus our vehicles become even more vital.

We look forward to updating you again soon. Until then take care.

Best wishes and a special thank you to Scott Ramsey for letting us use his photos

The EfA Team

Motopi Junior Secondary School, excited to meet us
Motopi Junior Secondary School, excited to meet us
Attentive community member at workshop
Attentive community member at workshop
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Organization Information

Elephants for Africa

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @E4Africa
Project Leader:
Kate Evans
London, United Kingdom

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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