In many communities in rural Africa, the vast majority of local people have no opportunity to support themselves except through small-scale, subsistence farming. In an environment that must support an increasing human population as well as that of a healthy elephant population, this dependence upon small-scale farming as a sole livelihood strategy forces people and elephants to directly compete with one another for things like space, and water. As these shared natural resources grow scarcer, the conflict between humans and elephants intensifies, with deadly results for both species. In order to reduce the conflict between humans and elephants, we must address issues related to the unmet livelihood needs of people living in these communities, and create direct benefits to local people of protecting elephants. By facing these challenges in a thoughtful way, we facilitate the development of alternative livelihood strategies for local people that depend upon the persistence of elephants, rather than on their extermination.
Our mission is to simultaneously improve human livelihoods and promote the conservation of natural resources, particularly of elephants.
We do this by:
- Ensuring people are aware of the benefits their communities currently receive from protecting elephants.
- Creating additional benefits to local people of protecting elephants.
- Improving human livelihoods in ways that are linked to elephant conservation.
- Reduce elephant crop-raiding behavior.
We envision humans and elephants sustainably coexisting together in a culture that is supportive of conservation. Achieving this mission means including components of:
- Research (biological, ecological, and social)
- Economic development
The above components are inextricably linked. If our passion is to protect elephants, we must consider the drivers of human elephant conflict. These drivers are linked to poverty, which results from poor education and lack of economic opportunities. We aim to simultaneously address all of these related challenges.