Learning from local knowledge and building long-term relationships are essential components to all conservation projects. In Northern Tanzania, villagers have worked with us to develop a strategy for protecting farmland which borders the Ngorongoro Crater forest.
The goal is to dissuade neighbouring elephants from entering farms, and instead continue onwards to a wildlife corridor nearby. The community are also dependent on this corridor to access firewood, medicine and water. They face stiff competition from elephants and other wildlife over these natural resources. Understanding the needs of the village, and the ecology of the environment, ensures the project can benefit both people and wildlife.
Living with elephants
Karatu is busy tourist hub, teeming with people, wildlife, and crucial elephant habitat. Farming villages in this district wrap around the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This biodiverse habitat is a significant cradle of conservation. It’s a direct stepping stone onto the magnificent Serengeti, and forms part of the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem.
Elephants have roamed this region long before human settlements existed here. The Crater is brimming with a plentiful supply of flora and fauna – and it shows. These herbivorous giants are some of the largest in Africa!
But it’s not just the array of Acacia trees that wet their appetites. For on the border of the Ngorongoro Forest are rolling hills cultivated with maize, wheat, and peas; a mosaic of highly nutritious crops that elephants are instinctively drawn to. The elephants make frequent trips into neighbouring farmland on the boundary of the Crater forest.
From here they travel onwards to the Upper Kitete wildlife corridor. This is one of the last remaining migratory routes for elephants. It continues over the edge of an impressive escarpment to reach the Salt Lake and Selela forest below.
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Upper kitete beehive fence
Upper Kitete is the site of our latest beehive project to protect farms and elephants. Farmers are exhausted and struggling to cope under the pressure of nightly crop raids by the elephants. They chase, flash torchlights, or are simply forced to hide and watch as the elephants chew through their livelihood. The elephants are also suffering. They’ve lost critical habitat and movement areas due to land development and infrastructure built by a growing human population in the region.
Wild Survivors are supporting the village with beehive fences – funded by our donors and managed by the community. This solution protects farms at the very top of the village which border an established fireline. It is this buffer zone that creates the only separation between farm plots and elephant habitat in the Crater forest.
The fence takes careful planning and mapping with GPS devices. Accuracy with beehive installation is paramount in maintaining access to the corridor for the elephants. The beehives persuade the herbivores to stay on their well-trodden paths as opposed to the tempting shortcut through farmland.
Elephants fear bees
Bees have been scientifically proven to deter elephants. Dr Lucy King, mentor and inspiration behind our project, documented the first evidence of elephants running (literally) from a tree home to bees. Her Elephant and Bees project in Kenya has achieved an 80% success rate at preventing crop raids by elephants. An achievement which we plan to replicate with Upper Kitete village. This has been made possible with our passionate conservation donors, grant funders, and partners.
We are thrilled to announce that every beehive which have been sponsored since our formation has now been installed. They are suspended along the 840 metre fence line in Upper Kitete which will continue to extend to 1.75km.
As an organisation in its infancy, we devoted years of planning and relationship-building in Tanzania. This was an essential first phase before establishing the beehive fence solution with partner villages. We’re truly grateful to all our donors and supporters for believing in Wild Survivors and our mission.
Human-elephant conflict is a complex issue, and will always remain this way. We are committed to resolving this with innovative sustainable solutions. By uniting our passionate supporters, proactive communities and partners, we are improving coexistence for people and wildlife.