Bioboundary Project

When humans and elephants compete for space and resources, Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) is inevitable. The high numbers of elephants and high levels of human-elephant conflict among subsistence farmers in northern Botswana provide a uniquely challenging environment for HEC mitigation. Crop raiding, loss of food security and income, destruction of infrastructure and even mortalities are very real threats; finding a solution is critical to creating an environment of coexistence.

To this end, Natural Selection has recently funded the Botswana Predator Conservation (BPC) BioBoundary Project. They are investigating the efficacy of plant-based airborne elephant repellents to help protect crops and infrastructure. This is following the discovery that a readily available, safe and natural product is a powerful repellent to elephants.

This provides the first alternative to chilli peppers, and strongly suggests that other repellents may be waiting to be discovered.

Camera trap videos have shown how the scent of a commercial essential oil has stopped elephants from passing through a gap in a fence even though they were on an established elephant commuting path. Similar reactions have also been observed with predator repellents.

The hope is that BPC are able to develop an inexpensive low-tech means of dispensing repellents, based on locally available materials and optimising repellents deployment for various applications. Ultimately fostering an environment for better co-existence.

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