The Effectiveness of Electric Fence in Mitigating Human-Elephants conflicts in the Aberdare National Park, Kenya.
Mwangi, Gichohi Patrick
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Human-elephant conflicts have become a serious problem that is widespread in Kenya whenever human beings come into contact with elephants within the protected and unprotected areas as they compete for space and resources. Human population has, in areas surrounding protected areas, increasingly exerted pressure on existing land through encroachment from settlement and agricultural activities. Electric fencing has been used as a mitigation strategy of the conflicts, but despite electric fencing in the Aberdare National Park, elephants continues to raid farms causing crop damages, property destruction, and livestock attacks, injures people and sometimes causing death. The communities, in turn, retaliate by injuring and killing elephants in fenced and unfenced areas. This study was conducted to asses the effectiveness of electric fencing in mitigating human-elephant conflicts. A survey was used to examine the frequency and nature of human-elephant conflicts, local farmers' attitude on electric fence, establishing temporal and spatial patterns of conflicts. The data was collected by recording farm raids and estimating crop damages carried out by elephants in the study area from October 2007 to September 2008. A questionnaire was administered to a sample of 388 respondents that was established using the Fisher's formula. GPS coordinates were used for mapping out hotspot conflict spatial patterns within the study areas. The collected data was fed in SPSS (version 11) computer software which was used to analyze Pearson's correlation to test for relationship between variables of conflicts incidences in unfenced and fenced areas of ANP. Chi-square was used to compare differences of farm raids frequencies before and after electric fence. While two samples T-test was used to compare responses of farmers guarding of farms frequencies employed to deter elephants before and after construction of electric fence. A GIS Arc-view (version 9) was used to establish the spatial pattern of human-elephant conflicts in form of GIS maps that showed conflict hotspots. Results showed that there were more crops damaged in the unfenced area by elephants, as compared to those in fenced area. In both instances .results showed that there is a significant relationship between farm raids incidences and 'crop damages by elephants (rmd=0.963, p<0.05, df=l) in fenced area and (rmd=0.65 p<0.05, df=l) in unfenced area. There were more farm raid incidences toward the end of the wet seasons than during the dry season in both the fenced area and unfenced area. To reduce farm raids the farmers were employing a variety of guarding strategies. The various strategies used to repel elephants in fenced and unfenced areas showed there was a significant positive relationship (rmd=0.921, p<0.05, df=I). The farmers from both areas showed positive attitude towards the electric fence at 98.5 % in the unfenced area and 93.8 % in fenced area. There were electric fence breakages some by people and others by elephants in an attempt to migrate out of the park since electric fence acted as a barrier. KWS should consider establishing gates along the traditional migratory corridors and conduct regular patrols along the electric fence in order to detect any tampering and fence breakages.' KWS should on regular basis carry out sensitization . awareness campaigns to educate the locals on the importance of 'preserving the electric fence and the overall conservation of elephants in Aberdare National Park.
- MST-Zoological Sciences