All aboard the 'Elephant Express', a practical solution for human-elephant coexistence
One of the most significant challenges for elephant conservation is managing negative interactions that occur where people and elephants use the same space and compete for resources. Human–elephant conflict (HEC) incidents often manifest in direct impacts to humans or elephants. However, some HEC situations result in long-term risk and chronic stress among communities living with elephants. Indirect impacts or opportunity costs, such as people being disadvantaged by the presence of elephants are harder to quantify and are not often addressed. In the eastern Okavango Panhandle, in northern Botswana, 17,500 people share space and resources with 18,000 elephants. Elephants here use distinct, historical corridors on a daily basis, moving from dryland resources to the wetlands of the Okavango Delta. Confrontations with elephants occur most frequently where these elephant corridors cross the main service road in the area, increasing fear among people walking to work, children going to school, parents sending children to school, and the elderly or expectant mothers accessing medical care. This constant fear contributes to chronic stress and can drive negative perceptions towards elephants. A novel intervention has been introduced to help reduce the costs of HEC and foster coexistence, in the Okavango Panhandle area—"The Elephant Express". The bus service was established through a multi-stakeholder collaboration to provide primary school children and medical personnel safe transport across elephant corridors. The complementary bus service have reduced stress from living with elephants, increased attendance and performance in schools, and facilitated improved access to medical care.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Anna Songhurst, Makata Baitseng, Jennifer Lalley, Sarah Lupton, Maipelo Molathegi, Ohitiseng Mosupi, Botshelo Sensinyi, Amanda Stronza, Tracey Taylor, Graham McCulloch
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.