Contribution starting at $2,995
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
12+ days (avg. $250 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Wildlife & Ecosystems

Elephants and Sustainable Agriculture in Kenya

Location
Kasigau Corridor, Kenya (between Tsavo East and West National Parks), Kenya, Africa Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Easy
Accommodations
Single Rooms possible
Couples Rooms possible
Wilderness Camp
Food
Chef-prepared meals
Special diets accommodated
An elephant drinks water (C) Lynn Von Hagen
An Earthwatch volunteer watches an elephant herd (C) Lynn Von Hagen
Earthwatch volunteers monitor sustainable agriculture methods (C) Lynn Von Hagen
Earthwatch volunteers build elephant deterrents (C) Stan Rullman
A large elephant (C) Lynn Von Hagen
Earthwatch volunteers build elephant deterrents (C) Stan Rullman
Tree (C) Stan Rullman
An elephant drinks water (C) Lynn Von Hagen
An Earthwatch volunteer watches an elephant herd (C) Lynn Von Hagen
Earthwatch volunteers monitor sustainable agriculture methods (C) Lynn Von Hagen
Earthwatch volunteers build elephant deterrents (C) Stan Rullman
A large elephant (C) Lynn Von Hagen
Earthwatch volunteers build elephant deterrents (C) Stan Rullman
Tree (C) Stan Rullman

In sub-Saharan Africa, elephants frequently raid and damage crops. By partnering with local farmers in southeast Kenya, researchers will help to mitigate human-wildlife conflict while conserving the land and its resources using the latest methods in sustainable agriculture and forestry.


Earthwatch volunteers install a camera trap in a tree

Elephants play an important role as “ecosystem engineers,” meaning they create and maintain critical habitats for other species. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, elephants sometimes eat or damage farmers’ crops, resulting in human-elephant conflict or “HEC”. What’s more, climate change – extreme and often unpredictable weather events – poses additional threats to agriculture production.

By the year 2050, humans will need to increase agricultural production by 70 percent to meet the demands of a growing population. Achieving this in the midst of today’s rapidly changing climate is unlikely without transforming agricultural practices. In some parts of the world, scientists have begun to implement Climate-Smart Agriculture, a cutting-edge method that involves strategies to increase crop production while building resilience to extreme changes in climate. Can Climate-Smart Agriculture also help mitigate the conflict between farmers and elephants in Kenya?

Join researchers in the Tsavo Conservation Area in southeast Kenya and work with local farmers to implement sustainable agriculture methods. Support farmers’ livelihoods while ensuring that humans and elephants are able to peacefully coexist.

 

A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1: Meet, travel to field site by train
  • Day 2-11: Elephant monitoring, tree assessments, biodiversity surveys, household surveys
  • Day 12: Departure

HOW YOU WILL HELP

When you arrive, the researchers will conduct an orientation and brief you on the work you’ll be doing. Field work will begin on the second day, where you will be involved with:
Earthwatch volunteers monitor elephants (C) Rachael Biggs
Elephant monitoring and HEC assessment

Identify individual elephants and record their behavior; assess impact of elephants on farmers’ crops and the efficacy of deterrents.

An Earthwatch volunteer measures a tree (C) Kim Cassello
Indigenous tree assessments

Monitor large, indigenous trees and record signs of damage by elephants.

Earthwatch volunteers conduct biodiversity surveys (C) Lynn Von Hagen
Biodiversity surveys

Conduct vehicle-based mammal and bird surveys along permanent transects; assess plant diversity related to large trees on foot; collect and compare camera trap photographs from CSA and non-CSA crop fields.

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

4 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Lisa Mangiante | November 5, 2018
My selection of the elephant expedition was partly decided by logistics and my availability. Now I’m SO glad I landed there; I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Every day I appreciate my time there more and more. On the first day, driving in from Nairobi, our vehicle came upon a watering hole, where seven lions languidly observed a group of elephants bathing and playing. As we sat (in the vehicle, of course), the elephant group grew to 34. It was quite a sight to see the animals just hanging out and pretending to ignore each other. Even that early in our trip we knew it wasn’t common occurrence. We came across many and a wide breadth of animals. This is a trip to consider if that’s one of your goals, rather than a deep dive into one species. Sometimes there’d be a Kudu standing behind trees (camouflage), other times eagles would sit on tree tops, still another time an oryx might cross the road and disrupt the flow of two vehicles. We saw many species during our daily data-gathering animal counts, sometimes different views than before. To illustrate my point: I’ve seen giraffe before but have never been so awed by a herd majestically galloping in front of me. At our request, staff added a late night and an early morning animal viewing from the truck, so finally, in the late night I saw bush babies and one hyena (it was on my bucket list). The research team – Mwangi, Simon, Lynn and Anakobe – are very knowledgeable. I learned a lot from them.
Julie Kluss | August 2, 2017
Being part of the very first expedition investigating elephant impacts on farmer's crops was an exciting and inspirational experience. From the very beginning, we participants were treated as valued members of the research team. Local scientists tutored us on the plants, animals, and ecology of the area, as well as the carbon conservation programs being implemented. Under the guidance of leaders Bruce and Lynn, we measured and marked field boundaries, prepared fencing and deterrents, surveyed crops and tree damage, and tested camera traps. Surveying Rukinga wildlife from a safari vehicle was thrilling; I never knew what we would find next. We glimpsed cheetah, hyena, elephant, aardwolf, giraffe, buffalo, jackal, various antelope, and many magnificent birds. We had the privilege of visiting the singing, dancing, basket-weaving women of Kasigau village, as well as a local school where the children greeted us with big smiles and open arms. My favorite moments were the peace and beauty of sunrise over Kivuli camp and the joy of our team members at witnessing elephants interacting in their natural habitat. I recommend this expedition to anyone who wants to be part of a community conservation effort to restore endangered wildlife.
Janica Jones | July 31, 2017
Incredible experience! Working, literally, on the ground with subsistence farmers using materials on-hand to promote effective, sustainable, long-term solutions to HEC was most satisfying. The animal transects, recording the sighting of animals, was more exciting than anything imaginable! And, tree transects documenting elephant impacts, just awesome! Kivuli Camp was such an unexpected gem! I'm used to "roughing it." So, I was amazed at the comfortable quarters, delicious food, and impeccable warmth of the gracious staff. And, I learned so much from the kind, dedicated, professional research staff. I have come home with a renewed optimism for our future and what I can do to make a difference. I would do this again, in a heartbeat!

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