Genius strategy saves village from elephant invasion


Tins hanging on wire fencing that helps deter elephantinvation. Photo/LISA KAMAU
Tins hanging on wire fencing that helps deter elephantinvation. Photo/LISA KAMAU

On the outskirts of Oloisukut Conservancy in Narok County, a tiny village of farmers has discovered a way to solve a long-standing conflict with the elephants with which they share the land.

The villagers most of whom gave their land for the conservation of wild animals to the conservancy, which is close to the Mara Triangle, have accepted that human-wildlife conflict cannot be fully avoided but can be minimised.

“We love the wild animals and have lived with them peacefully for years, but every once in a while elephants come to our land and destroy our crops,” said Lesingo Nebala, a resident of the village.

Lesingo Nebala speaks to Citizen Digital. Photo/LISA KAMAU
Lesingo Nebala speaks to Citizen Digital. Photo/LISA KAMAU

Nebala narrates that while the elephants destroyed farms with maize and beans, they did not touch farms that had chilli planted.

“We realised that they invaded our farms but avoided the areas where chilli had been planted,” he tells Citizen Digital.

This simple realisation led to an ingenious innovation that has almost eradicated their once recurring problem.

“After realising this we came up with a way to surround our farms with the smell of chilli that has so far kept the animals at bay,” he said.

The villagers crush chilli and mix it with oil then smear the mixture on sisal and plastic ropes that they erect outside of their fences. According to residents, the smell deters elephants, which go round the fences before giving up and moving on.

A rope laced with pepper and oil surrounds a homestead. Photo/LISA KAMAU
A rope laced with chilli and oil surrounds a homestead. Photo/LISA KAMAU

But that is not the only strategy these residents use to keep the elephants away, they also know that elephants hate noise, so they came up with yet another way to keep them at bay.

As seen in the photo below, the villagers erect wire fencing around their fences and attach metallic tins to the wire so that if an elephant is not deterred by the smell of pepper, the noise made when they touch the wire fencing is enough to send them away.

Tins hanging on wire fencing that helps deter elephantinvation. Photo/LISA KAMAU
Tins hanging on wire fencing that helps deter elephant invasion. Photo/LISA KAMAU

Nickson Kariangei, a farmer in the area, admits that the strategy has worked for the past four months since it was launched.

Kariangei said that before the project, which is funded by the World Wide fund for Nature (WWF), was launched elephants had invaded his farm and destroyed crops worth hundreds of thousands.

“The elephants came to the farm recently but did not get past the fence,” he said.

Nickson Kariangei speaks to Citizen Digital. Photo/LISA KAMAU
Nickson Kariangei speaks to Citizen Digital. Photo/LISA KAMAU

Oloisukut Conservancy is regarded as the elephant maternity because elephants come here to mate, and some to give birth.

It is also a migration corridor for elephants on their way to Nyekweri forest, which is also another elephant maternity.

Elephants at the Oloisukut Conservancy
Elephants at the Oloisukut Conservancy

The efforts of these villagers, which lays spat in the middle of the animals’ migration route, to coexist with wildlife gives hope to the future of wildlife conservation in the country.

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Story By Lisa Kamau
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