Education, Empowerment, Options
Helping wild elephants live out of harm’s way requires helping families who live near them gain access to the tools that can create positive change. Sometimes this is bringing in options for subsistence farmers and sometimes this is supporting conservation education in rural schools.
Sometimes the Best Projects Begin with Play
The Elephant Love Project originated with a game, “Elephant Love!”, crafted from our photos of wild elephants living in close proximity to the villages. Designed to bypass language and cultural barriers, we produced and then donated 500 games to rural schools, playing them hundreds of times in half a dozen countries. Getting to know the youngest members of these communities where Human-Elephant altercations are on the rise allows for playful education, Trunks Up!
One of the one-room schools we worked with for an extended time is in the epicenter of Human-Elephant Conflict. The children who walk through the jungle to get to class each day are the future of conservation, and the more The Elephant Love Project helps their teachers, the more coexistence becomes possible.
From School to Home with Wild Elephants
Educational games are fun, but HEC is dangerous. 2019 was the deadliest year on record for human-caused elephant deaths, and in Sri Lanka alone over 400 elephants and 100 humans lost their lives.
Bull elephant prints show their destructive path as a group of 4 ate their way through our neighbor’s farm just before harvest. Sadly, crop destruction is becoming increasingly common and has far-reaching implications for animals, humans, and the environment.
Light Up the Night with Fences and Torches
After meeting with community leaders, we began exploring the impact of installing motion-sensor light fences on subsistence farms and distributing torches among families.
Ruined crops and broken houses can cause subsistence farmers to drop into a poverty from which they may never recover. We’re exploring if having a rechargeable torch and a motion-sensor light fence can help keep crops, houses, and people safe, which in turn helps quell the violence that can occur from desperation.
Our first trial was 3 fences, beginning with our neighbor mentioned above, a staff member with a new baby who lost his entire papaya crop to an elephant, and for an older couple living in half a house after a bull demolished 3 walls to grab the bags of rice stored inside. We learned a lot through our trial project! Sturdier waterproofing of the lights, going solar, and extending coverage are next in line.
Even though we work to keep elephants out of crops, we don’t want to name foraging wild elephants “Crop Raiders”. They are simply elephants being elephants, raising their families as peacefully as possible, eating and sleeping in the forest. We cannot imagine a world without them…
The Elephant Love Project team alongside the Department of Wildlife Conservation checking the electric fences which help keep the villagers and the wild elephants safe from harm.