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Since the launch of the Elesenses project in the Chobe district by Elephant Without Borders (EWB), farmers in the area have realised an improvement in their crop yields.
The project is a mitigation strategy that promotes human-elephant coexistence in a way that farmers living in wildlife areas benefit from their ploughing fields. It involves the training and installation of the Elesenses toolkits, a low-costly, user-friendly, mobile, solar-powered/green, sustainable, mitigation system aimed to protect human lives and property.
The toolkit contains a solar-powered single-strand of electric poly-wire rope, solar-powered motion-sensor alarms, lights and natural organic oil repellent.
Through the project, EBW has collaborated with farmers in the Chobe Enclave, Kasane/Kazungula, Pandamatenga, Mabele and Lesoma villages and the project has also been expanded to Makalamabedi and Tsutsubega.
In an interview, one the beneficiaries who is based in Lesoma village, Ben Mogotsi said after venturing in the agro-tourism project in 2019, he saw the need to utilise the Elesenses program to mitigate damages caused by elephant in his farm.
Mogotsi then in 2020 approached the EWB and through the program he was assisted with the installation of the solar-powered single-strand of electric poly-wire rope and lights.
He appreciated that he has been able to harvest high quantity of horticulture produce without any failure, highlighting that since 2020 he supplied different local supermarkets that include Spar, Shoppers as well as small business operators and individuals.
“Last year we supplied our produce to as far as Gaborone where we supplied about 30 crates of tomatoes and we had recently supplied 700 kg per week of tomatoes and green peppers to Spar,” he noted.
The farmer added that his agro-tourism project also gives the clients an opportunity to appreciate tourism while at the same time the use of the farm for agricultural purposes is maintained.
Another farmer from Mabele village, Ruth Mangisi who learnt about the Elesenses project in 2019 realised how important it could be for her looking at the fact that she was unable to produce a good harvest due to elephants.
Through the project Mangisi’s farm was also installed with the solar-powered single-strand of electric poly-wire rope and light which she stressed played a very critical role in deterring the elephants from damaging his crops.
Mangisi currently produces maize, watermelons and other crops and recently introduced other horticultural products and herbs to her farm as an integration geared towards commercialising the project for more income.
Luckson Likokoto, one of the beneficiary farmers from Kavimba village also joined the program five years back after being troubled by elephants and he realised how beneficial it could be to him. Since he joined the program Likokoto is happy that he is experiencing a bumper harvest.
EWB co-existence and education manager Dr Tempe Adams concurred that ever since the launch of the program 10 years ago they have received positive feedback from farmers who appreciate the benefits accrued. According to her, the main objective behind the program is to mitigate the conflict between people living in wildlife areas by encouraging co-existence.
Adams revealed that their aim to expand the program to other wildlife areas is faced with financial constraints.