Upper Kitete was established as a model agricultural cooperative back in the early 60s, by Tanzania’s founding father, President Julius Nyerere. His vision was to bring rural people and pastoralists together into collective villages, improving access to local services and healthcare. Many moved to the village from Arusha (160km north) and from further afield to set-up their homes and trial this new venture. The results of the cooperative are still evident today through the supportive and proactive nature of the community. If the village needs a job done, everyone jumps in to help. Whether it’s repairs to a local road, or improvements to the village office, everyone gets involved to help their fellow neighbours. We have been honoured to learn from and support Upper Kitete in preventing conflict with elephants. The community welcomed the project partnership with great enthusiasm and positivity.
mapping elephant highways
The first exciting project stages commenced in June 2019. Francesca and Beth (WS Conservation Science Manager), spent a month in Karatu to kick start the Upper Kitete beehive fence. It all begins with mapping! It is imperative to visualise the environment we’re working in: the distribution of farmland, proximity to wild habitat, corridors and protected areas. This is the key to informed decision making on beehive fence placement. We joined farmers whose plots border the Ngorongoro Crater forest, to examine the fireline boundary where the beehive fence could be placed.
You cannot beat seeing the environment first hand. It is such an important team-building exercise, too. Mapping with GPS was conducted on foot, as we spanned the length of farm boundaries. We moved between the overhanging forest foliage, and up and down the beautiful undulating fireline pathway to gain access to farms and many elephant highways. GPS points were taken at every ‘break-in point’ to plots by the elephants. We also record points at every farm border noting farmer name, crop type, farm size and number of elephant entry points.
Teaming up with the Village Chairman, farm owners, PAMS Foundation, and the community’s Elephant Guardians to make this a truly eye-opening and informative exercise!
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BEES FORM A NATURAL BARRIER
A total distance of 2.75km of farm boundary was recorded, where nightly episodes of elephant crop-raiding is at its peak. The Crater forest cascades beyond the fireline break. Segmenting the length of farm plots, the forest connects with the wider Upper Kitete wildlife corridor. Two farms are nestled between the extending forest. This topography has led our team to plan for three separate fences to securing the cultivated land along the fireline.