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Living with Wildlife: Competing for Survival

In April, thanks to generous donations from our loyal supporters, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) raised over £40,000 in our Big Give Green Match Fund appeal ‘Living with Wildlife: Competing for Survival’.  

These funds have already been making a significant difference to the lives of both people and animals across Africa and Asia working to foster peaceful co-existence.  

In Guinea, we are reducing reliance on destructive practices causing biodiversity loss whilst encouraging practices that protect and conserve the natural environment.  In the past year, our partners in and around the High Niger National Park, home to a stronghold of chimpanzees, have focused on improving relationships with a village community to the north of the park, who have previously proven to be difficult to work with and conducted activities harmful to conservation efforts. The community were previously against co-existing with chimpanzees and keen to grow their income through illegal methods. Through our partners’ continued work, the education programme, and other initiatives in this community – such as hosting a football tournament, the team has slowly begun to win the community’s trust and reduce destructive practices. In the coming months, our partners aim to implement sustainable livelihood programmes within this community such as apiculture and soap making to further reduce harmful activities on the environment, support the community, and ultimately foster peaceful co-existence with wildlife.   

In Zambia, mitigation efforts are being put into practice to reduce human-elephant conflict, focusing on high density areas where encroachment by human settlements endangers people, habitats, livestock, and wildlife. A new trial sees the use of AI Smart cameras to detect the presence of elephants and send a signal to a sound box to produce a variety of loud sounds to deter elephants from the area. Tests have been done on a range of sounds and music, from traditional African drums to Eminem! Initial reports have shown where the sound box has been triggered numerous times, elephants can be heard trumpeting in response (a sign of being startled). There has also been evidence of a collared elephant strongly reacting to the repeller by changing its course. Maps from the tracking collar show the elephant approaching the repeller and then very quickly moving away again. The tests remain ongoing, and refinements will be made to the technology (for example, to avoid the solar power being disconnected by baboons) to ensure maximum efficiency, before implementation around local villages where people are most affected by human-elephant conflict.  

Mbila and Zongo. Image Credit: Game Rangers International

In Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan our partners protecting snow leopards have continued to run their annual eco-camp programme where children travel to snow leopard habitat to learn more about the wildlife and plants native to their home country, whilst promoting the sustainable use of high-altitude ecosystems and conservation of biodiversity. This summer’s eco-camps have proven to have a positive impact on participating youth. Feedback from the children has shown they have become more enamoured with nature and fostered a passion for conserving and protecting the land and wildlife around them. Together, with our support of sustainable livelihood programmes for local herder communities, we are seeing an improvement in peaceful co-existence with snow leopards which we hope will continue for future generations.  

In India, in the districts of Vizianagaram and Andhra, we are supporting communities who have lost cattle to tiger attacks, with residents living in constant fear of the big cats.  We took action before they retaliated against the tigers or before any human was attacked, putting in place measures to monitor the tigers and raise the alarm if they approached communities.  Awareness meetings have been held with communities to ensure they stay safe, and local people are now compensated if their cattle are killed by tigers. With global tiger populations being so low, it is imperative that no tigers are lost to human-wildlife conflict.   

Tiger - Matt Armstrong-Ford
Image Credit: Matt Armstrong

We’ve already achieved so much with support from generous individuals – but as we’ve highlighted in this blog, long-term conservation efforts are essential in mitigating human-wildlife conflict. If you would like to provide ongoing support, you can set up a regular donation on our website which will enable us to continue to create a sustainable future for both humans and wildlife:  https://davidshepherd.org/donate/  

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Andrew White
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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