Elephants and Sustainable Agriculture in Kenya
In sub-Saharan Africa, elephants frequently raid and damage crops. By partnering with local farmers in southeast Kenya, researchers will help mitigate human-wildlife conflict while conserving the land and its resources using the latest sustainable agriculture and forestry methods.
Elephants play an important role as “ecosystem engineers,” meaning they create and maintain critical habitats for other species. However, elephants sometimes eat or damage farmers’ crops in sub-Saharan Africa, 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 amid today’s rapidly changing climate is unlikely without transforming agricultural practices. In some parts of the world, scientists have begun implementing Climate-Smart Agriculture or “CSA,” 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 can coexist peacefully.
A Typical Itinerary
- Day 1: Meet, and travel to the field site by train
- Days 2–11: Elephant monitoring, climate-smart agriculture deployment, biodiversity, and vegetation surveys
- Day 12: Departure
HOW YOU WILL HELP
ELEPHANT MONITORING AND HEC ASSESSMENT
Identify individual elephants and record their behavior; assess the impact of elephants on farmers’ crops and the efficacy of deterrents.
CLIMATE-SMART AGRICULTURE DEPLOYMENT
Prepare and maintain fields that will incorporate CSA techniques, such as the creation of zai pits, and assess crop growth under different experimental conditions. You may also conduct surveys and workshops in local villages to understand resident attitudes about agriculture and HEC and provide information on deterrents and CSA techniques.
Conduct vehicle-based mammal and bird surveys along permanent transects; assess plant diversity related to levels of elephant habitat modification while on foot; collect and compare camera trap photographs from CSA and non-CSA crop fields. You will also assess habitat quality by measuring vegetation cover, recording the prevalence of trees and shrubs, and noting elephant damage.
Field conditions and research needs can change the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.