Gabon's marauding forest elephants test public patience

STORY: Gabon’s forest elephants are raiding farmers’ fields

wiping out carefully tended crops of maize and cassava

Up to 50 elephants a year are killed in revenge or self-defense

according to the environment ministry

(Lee White, Gabon’s minister of forests, oceans, environment and climate change)

"Human-elephant conflict in Gabon is a growing and serious problem for rural people. Some people cannot farm anymore - the elephants are eating so much of their crops. So if we cannot provide protection to these people in the form of electric fences, we have the technology, it's just a matter of money to build electric fences to protect people's crops. When we protect people's crops, they say ,'We're fine. We're fine with elephants out there, we're fine seeing the elephants from our village as long as they don't come in and eat our crops'."

Public outcry has pushed the government to take unprecedented steps

It has set aside $4.5 million of this year’s national budget

to compensate farmers for trashed crops

It’s also allowing charity Space for Giants to trial electric fences

Location: Makokou, Gabon

(John Poulsen, Elephant Ecologist / Duke University)

"It seems like they are working. Of course it's early days because elephants are smart and what might keep them out of a fence now as they get shocked they can eventually learn to get around if they really want to. So I think there is great promise but at the same time it needs to be followed over time, we need to be careful about that."

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