Fundraiser to ease human-elephant conflict

Walking 150 km through Namibia’s remote northwest
By walking a distance of 150 km in five days through Namibia’s north-western conservancies covering elephant habitat, the Kunene Elephant Walk Group aims to raise awareness about Namibia’s unique population of desert-adapted elephants, and the challenge of human-elephant conflict (HEC).
The funds that are raised during the walk will be used for HEC mitigation projects to help promote peaceful co-existence between rural communities and elephants.
The northwest of Namibia is home to a unique group of African bush elephants (Loxodonta africana), that over many years has adapted to the arid environment of the Namib. Apart from this group, it is only in Mali – in the Sahara desert – where desert-adapted elephants can be found. In Namibia, they reside in the Hoarusib, Hoanib, Huab, Aba Huab, and Ugab ephemeral rivers that run from the Great Escarpment into the Atlantic Ocean.
Compared to other African bush elephants, desert-adapted elephants can survive without drinking water for several days and travel over long distances in their search for water.
Because of the limited food and natural water points in the arid northwest of Namibia, the elephants are increasingly attracted to rural villages in the area.
Local communities, in their attempts to adapt to ongoing climate change and prolonged droughts, increasingly turn to crop farming to reduce their dependence on livestock farming. Livestock is much more susceptible to drought conditions than crop gardens, therefore crop gardening is a way for these rural communities to secure food and become more climate-resilient. When elephants enter the villages, they often raid the crops and destroy water infrastructure such as water tanks and pipes.
Poorly understood
In their attempt to scare elephants away, people often misinterpret the signs that the elephants are giving. As a reaction elephants can become aggressive, which can be life-threatening for people. To protect their livelihoods, the retaliatory killing of elephants by people is becoming increasingly common.
The issue of human-elephant conflict (HEC) is still poorly understood, and by walking through conservancies covering key elephant habitats, the walkers aim to shed light on this issue. Participants will hear from farmers about how they experience sharing their land with elephants, and the Conservation Film Foundation will be filming the efforts to share with the larger public.
The walk takes place from 5 to 9 July and is open for the public to join. People can either pay a participation fee of N$500 which will go towards the fundraiser, or they can join for free if they help raise funds before and after the event. The funds will be used for various conflict prevention projects in the conservancies that are within the elephant habitat in this region, such as:
- Construction of additional water points for elephants outside villages;
- Construction of protective walls around communal crop gardens;
- Training of community game guards about elephants and conflict mitigation techniques;
- Field equipment for ten elephant guards.
Show your support
The route uncovers the secrets of the Kunene region, taking you through remote, less-visited areas with spectacular sceneries and which are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna:
• Day 1: Ongongo conservancy to Onganga (Ongongo Conservancy > Otjiu-West Conservancy): 30 km
• Day 2: Onganga to Ongango (Ombuijokanguindi Conservancy): 30 km
• Day 3: Ongango to Epunguue (Ozondundu Conservancy): 30 km
• Day 4: Epunguue to Okahua (Okangundumba Conservancy): 30 km
• Day 5: Okahua to Otjozongombe (Omatendeka Conservancy): 30 km
Accommodation along the route is camping, for which there will be a backup vehicle to carry your equipment. If you would like to join, send an email to [email protected] .