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Uptake and performance of farm-based measures for reducing crop raiding by elephants Loxodonta africana among smallholder farms in Laikipia District, Kenya

M.D. Grahama1 p1 c1 and T. Ochienga1

a1 Laikipia Elephant Project, Centre for Training and Research in ASAL Development, P.O. Box 144, Nanyuki, Kenya.

Abstract

Human-elephant conflict, in particular the damage caused by elephants to smallholder crops, is a major challenge to the conservation of African elephant Loxodonta africana. Conventional tools used to address this problem are capital intensive and require high levels of expertise. In recent years simple, affordable farm-based elephant deterrents, using locally available materials, have been encouraged by a number of human-elephant conflict researchers. There are very few published studies demonstrating the performance of these deterrents, however, and little is known about levels of uptake among smallholder farmers. We trialled a number of such farm-based elephant deterrents with local farmers in three sites within Laikipia District, Kenya. Levels of crop raiding declined after the introduction of treatments but not significantly when compared with control farms. Variable levels of uptake among the participating farmers made it difficult to draw clear conclusions from the trials. However, participating farmers were positive about the deterrent effect of the tools introduced, corroborated by their willingness to make financial commitments towards sustaining future trials. Availability of household labour, local politics, and insecurity were identified as important barriers to uptake of some of the deterrents introduced. Household labour availability should be a key consideration in future endeavours to trial farm-based elephant deterrents.

(Received April 13 2007)

(Reviewed July 02 2007)

(Accepted October 30 2007)

Correspondence:

c1 Laikipia Elephant Project, Centre for Training and Research in ASAL Development, P.O. Box 144, Nanyuki, Kenya. E-mail mdg34@cam.ac.uk

p1 Also at: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EN, UK.

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