As human populations burgeon and people cut down more forests, clear more land for crops and build more roads and settlements, wildlife helplessly looks on and becomes homeless. With their habitats degraded or wiped out altogether, where are elephants and other wild animals to go?
In some areas, fencing is a viable solution to this challenge. Whether you look at it as fencing wildlife out or fencing people in, some fences benefit both animals and people. Fencing initiatives undertaken by IFAW and our partners help protect humans and their farms and livestock from potential destruction by elephants – and protect the elephants as well.
While fencing is not always a viable solution – fences can present problems of their own, such as concentrating high numbers of elephants in too small an area – in specific cases, fences can make good neighbors of humans and elephants.
Taveta Fence Project, Kenya
The Taveta community, which borders Tsavo West National Park, experienced human-elephant conflicts for many decades. But the community took a proactive approach and spearheaded a fencing initiative with assistance from IFAW and Kenya Wildlife Service. The results include fewer crop raids by elephants, improved safety of school-bound children, enhanced food security and the renovation of irrigation projects.
Mount Kenya Fence Project, Kenya
To address increasing levels of human-wildlife conflict along the boundary of the Mount Kenya National Reserve -- home to an estimated 2,000 elephants, as well as other endangered species such as rhinos and leopards -- the Bill Woodley Mount Kenya Trust, with the support of IFAW and other conservationists, moved forward with a solar fencing project. Communities living on the boundary of the Reserve benefit from reduced levels of crop raiding. In addition, this boost to local community livelihoods will improve the relationship between conservationists and farmers living with wildlife.
Liwonde National Park, Malawi
Liwonde, though small, is home to an estimated 1,000 elephants and is surrounded entirely by densely populated human communities. That mix often causes conflicts. That’s why IFAW has been contributing to human-elephant conflict mitigation and law enforcement training in Liwonde for more than 8 years, primarily by helping to construct and maintain a sophisticated electric fencing system in key conflict hotspots around Liwonde. IFAW is now engaged in a five-year plan to help Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife develop and implement systems for park security, human-elephant conflict mitigation and other conservation management functions.
Laikipia Fence Project, Kenya
The Laikipia district in northern Kenya is another area which has experienced human-elephant conflicts for years. In 2006, IFAW gave a US$ 135,000 grant to help the local community and the Kenya Wildlife Service build a 150-kilometer electric fence in Laikipia District. We also provided more than $93,500 worth of mass capture equipment. The fence and the equipment advance elephant protection and ease human-wildlife conflict.