Kenya’s elephant problem

The World

When you first see an elephant carcass it’s so big it looks more like a boulder than an animal. This man can tell this animal is too young for a natural death; he’s the manager of an organization that works to reduce conflict between humans in elephants in Kenya’s Rift Valley where he says such conflict is becoming increasingly deadly. The conflict is fueled by proximity: farmers are pushing deeper into elephants’ foraging grounds and elephants are finding their foraging grounds more planted with beans and cabbages. Crops aren’t the only attraction: elephants are moving into human inhabited areas because of droughts. Elephants are a key part of Kenya’s tourism industry. The manager says many farmers feel the government cares more about the elephants than the humans. There’s no government assistance for farmers whose crops are destroyed so many stay up all night to protect against grazing elephants. This farmer grow three acres of corn as well as other crops and recently a single elephant ate three-quarters of an acre of corn in just one night, 12% of their annual yield. They have surrounded their home with a homemade elephant deterrent: sheets smeared with grease and hot chili. Others farmers set up trip wires, but the manager is hoping a fence will put an end to the problem. The elephant fence separates agriculture from grazing land. it’s not clear the fence will hold the elephant back. still local farmers have high hopes for the fence.

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