Honeyguide HEC Prevention Methodology
Working with community youth volunteers and wildlife scouts, Honeyguide developed a Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) Toolkit that uses a sequential order of methods to prevent crop destruction. The objective of the HEC Toolkit is to cause elephants, over time, to react to some of the less confrontational deterrents, such as spotlights and bullhorns, thus decreasing the frequency of times needed to use more expensive and intrusive techniques and also enabling community volunteers to increasingly prevent human-wildlife conflicts themselves. Honeyguide monitors all HWC incidents across its project areas to always modify its strategies and adopt new innovative measures as needed.
1.2 Honeyguide’s Geographic Scope & HEC Outcomes
Honeyguide focuses on large landscapes, including transboundary ones, of northern Tanzania, such as Amboseli-Kilimanjaro, Serengeti-Mara, and Tarangire-Manyara. As wildlife disperses outside of national parks, Honeyguide primarily supports initiatives on community lands, such as in Wildlife Management Areas and critical migratory routes.
Over 2015, the USAID Kenya &East Africa-funded PREPARED Project supported Honeyguide to scale up its intensive human-elephant conflict (HEC) prevention program, which had only originally been piloted in 2014 in a single location, the Burunge Wildlife Management Area outside Tarangire National Park. In the past year, however, Honeyguide launched full HEC prevention programs in four areas covering more than 2,000 km². While PREPARED’s support focused exclusively on interventions Enduimet WMA (1,200 km²), Honeyguide would not have been able to scale up and replicate its program without PREPARED. Here are some of the project’s main achievements:
• 970 farm raids by wildlife, predominantly elephants, mitigated throughout northern Tanzania
• Human-Elephant Conflict Toolkit tested, refined, and scaled up for crop protection
• 33 primary toolkits used throughout northern Tanzania over 2015
• Chili fences piloted around 21 acres of farms in both Enduimet WMA and Burunge WMA
• 122 community youths trained in HEC prevention and safe use of the toolkit across Tanzania
• 21 village game scouts, or rangers, trained as an elite HEC prevention force
• 3 Honeyguide staff members trained and devoted exclusively to HWC prevention and monitoring
• 2,000 (estimate) audience members in total viewed a HWC prevention training film
• 97% of interviewed audience members acknowledge benefits from wildlife
For the first time, Honeyguide has gone on to support farmers during the secondary farming season (December 2015-April 2016), expanding its HEC prevention coverage, with new strategies.
1.3 Honeyguide’s HEC Toolkit
As noted, Honeyguide developed a Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) Toolkit that uses a sequential order of methods to prevent crop destruction.
Deterrent Technology Irritant Level / Effect on Elephants
1.Chili Fences Medium/ Physical Irritant& Hindrance
2. LED High-Powered Lenser Spotlights Low/ Visual Irritant
3. Elephant Air horns Low /Auditory Irritant
4. Chili Clouds Medium/Auditory, Visual, & Mild Physical Irritant
5. Roman Candles High / Auditory & Visual Irritant
The following sections cover each of these and other tools in depth.
1.3.1 Chili Fence
The chili fence can be an effective means to deter elephants from raiding small farms. Over the years, several organizations in sub-Saharan Africa have developed a number of different variations of chili fences. Honeyguide incorporated the chili fence methodology as designed by World Animal Protection (WAP)and tested in Kenya and Tanzania. For a thorough description of WAP’s chili fences and implementation instructions and strategies, see the manual, “Chili Fences Keep Elephants out of Crops! How to Make and Support Chili Fences in Tanzania,” (WAP 2016). Information from the manual and experience from Honeyguide’s pilot program in northern Tanzania has been synthesized in the following sub-sections.
Use & Implementation: Chili fences require minimal material and maintenance, as they are only used during the peak harvest seasons, unlike some other fences that must stay up year-round. The fences only require sisal ropes, poles, mutton cloths or rags, used motor oil, chili powder, and various tools for fence construction. The following steps are a simplified version of the process.
Step 1: Dig holes so that supporting poles will be 7-10 meters apart
Step 2: Grind chili into fine particles, mix with used engine oil (8-10kg of chili per 10 liters of oil)
Step 3: Cut cotton sheets at 15x10 cm and tie each corner of them to lines of sisal rope
Step 4: Soak the cotton sheets with sisal ropes in the concentrated chili oil concoction
Step 5: Tie the sisal ropes to the poles tightly, leaving only one opening as an entrance
Step 6: About three pieces of saturated cotton sheets should be between each pole. Cover the entire circumference of the farm. Make sure they are all in alignment.
Location: Encircling small farms of 3-5 acres found to be ideal, but experimentation for other farms and designs has been employed by Honeyguide and found to also have success.
Timing: Used only during the peak harvest period (2-4 weeks)
Construction of chili fences in West Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (Photos Courtesy of Honeyguide)
• Effective during peak crop-raiding period
• Easy to construct overall
• Modest maintenance requirement
• Modifiable for different HEC prevention tactics
• Requires proactive community involvement but not high capacity
• Will not stop all animals from raiding farms, thus limited
• Communities find poles to be too expensive
• Crop raiding happens throughout farming season (not just harvest times)
• Difficult to monitor number of crop raid attempts with fences
• Rags with used motor oil often not properly disposed of after use
• No enterprise byproduct (i.e. chili products as with other fence programs)
Additional Considerations: In Honeyguide’s pilot program, only a single acre of 21 acres protected by chili fences were damaged by crop raiding in 2015. Honeyguide has already expanded the pilot program to use chili fences in the villages beside three different protected areas in northern Tanzania during the secondary farming season, which has harvest periods in April and May. Note that Mara Elephant Project (MEP) also uses chili fences and has recently set up a fence covering nearly three kilometers. Given the ongoing efforts by Honeyguide, MEP, and WAP, an updated analysis of chili fences with larger datasets should be completed by the end of 2016.
1.3.2 LED Flashlights
Most communities faced with crop-raiding elephants and other wild animals use flashlights or other lights as basic deterrents. These can have marginal success in deterring some animals, but rarely elephants. New high-powered lighting technologies, however, have become readily available and more affordable in East Africa. Honeyguide has favored various lights in OLight’s (https://olightworld.com/home) Intimidator series and has found them to be effective when used by either community volunteers or wildlife scouts to chase elephants off of farms.
Light LED Intimidator: Community volunteer with LED flashlight
Use & Implementation: Lights can easily be used by community volunteers and with minimal training, thus increasing the reach and impact of a given HWC intervention program. Honeyguide found that the lights worked best when in a strobe setting and when aimed directly at the eyes of elephants. While this intervention is the first in a series used by Honeyguide, it did turn around elephants, particularly juveniles and females, in the vast majority of instances.
Location: used at the farm directly in front of the elephants (safe distance of 15m minimum).
Timing: Like all interventions in Honeyguide’s HEC Toolkit, high-powered LED lights are best used in deterring elephants before they animals enter a given farm but, if not, are used immediately when elephants are encountered.
• Low-level intervention with proven success
• Higher success with non-elephant crop raiders
• Variable success with elephants, especially juveniles and females
• Easily used by community member volunteers with minimal training
• Easy to cover vast areas with volunteers and flashlights
• Elephants might easily adapt to lights and not view them as deterrents
• Some bull elephants already shown to be undeterred by lights
• Lights, if in the wrong hands, could be used for poaching
• Year-round upkeep and maintenance of lights required
Additional Considerations:Honeyguide currently loans lights to villages during the farming season and has a basic contract with them to do so.This empowers villages both to do the work of HWC prevention and to look after the tools provided in doing so, but also allows them to have an organization securely store the tools in the off-season.
1.3.3 Air horns
Honeyguide uses this as its second deterrent when directly confronting elephants and it is often used in tandem with the lights, thus causing a simultaneous auditory and visual irritants for elephants and other animals.
Airhorn used for HEC prevention
Use & Implementation:
Air horns are often available in East African countriesfor costs of less than 10% of the LED lights. They also require minimal training for volunteers and scouts and have limited risk.
Location: Again, used at the farm itself during an encounter with crop-raiding animals.
Timing: Best used in tandem with LED strobe lights.
• Inexpensive at about $10 USD per horn
• Requires minimal training to use, thus easily adopted by communities
• Success in deterring elephants proven, especially when with lights
• Again, elephants might easily adapt to horns and not be deterred
Additional Considerations:In Enduimet WMA alone, Honeyguide used the lights and horn in tandem a total of 234 times and hundreds of other times in other areas. At the risk of belaboring the point, the tandem use is optimal.
1.3.4 Chili Clouds
A Honeyguide innovation, chili clouds combine auditory and physical deterrents via chili powder and firecrackers. Honeyguide has experimented with chili clouds for more than four years but used them more systematically with PREPARED funding in 2015. Honeyguide used more than 500 chili clouds in Enduimet WMA alone and hundreds of others in additional protected areas. As the number one most used deterrent, they did show success but also showed signs of have decreasing effects on certain bull elephants.
A chili cloud
Use Implementation: Honeyguide uses a combination of chili powder and a firecracker, all tied together in a condom, to create a chili cloud. The chili clouds are then lit and thrown above the heads of elephants. The explosive sound of the device coupled with the infamous irritant – chili powder – are well known to cause distress for elephants. Honeyguide’s particular innovation is in combining the two with inexpensive materials. Honeyguide provides training for the use of chili clouds by community volunteers. PREPARED also funded the development of a full HEC Toolkit training video. There is some risk for scouts and volunteers in using an explosive device.
Location: Best used to prevent elephants and other animals from entering the farm in the first place if possible. Best if thrown from a vehicle to get greater height of the toss above the elephants.
Timing: Used after the lights and air horn and multiple chili clouds should be thrown in succession, as a single cloud is often not enough to completely chase an elephant herd off of a farm.
• Again, combines two known deterrents into one
• Inexpensive and easy for anyone to assemble given basic training
• Effective in deterring elephant herds if used in succession
• Risk to the user and the elephant if used improperly
• Some bull elephants return to farm not long after being chased
• Regular higher level training required to ensure proper use
Additional Considerations: Honeyguide uses chili clouds as a midlevel deterrent that, given the lower cost, can be used extensively for the improved effects. Honeyguide has found that adding sugar to the chili powder mix adds weight to the clouds and makes them easier to control.
1.3.5 Roman Candles (with Launcher)
As a last resort, Honeyguide uses a modified roman candle firework as propelled 10-15 meters in the air by a launcher, which has been internally designed by a Honeyguide supplier. The roman candles not only cause a number of loud explosions but also accompanying extremely bright flashes. The principle here is the same as used in other HEC Toolkit interventions in that combining known elephant deterrents aims at increasing the level of their effectiveness.
Roman candle loaded in a launcher
Use & Implementation: Honeyguide reserves the use of these as a last resort, often in the cases in which bull elephants either refuse to leave a farm after all other interventions have been deployed or return to the farm not long after being chased away. Honeyguide primarily has the wildlife scouts use this tool as it has more risk and requires more training.
Location: As a last resort intervention, Honeyguide would only use roman candles when elephants have actually been able to enter the farm and refuse to exit.
Timing: Again, after all other interventions in the toolkit have been used.
• Proven to be extremely effective even in chasing risk-taking bull elephants
• Elephants rarely return to the farm the same night after intervention is used
• Relatively expensive at approximately $30USD per explosive
• Increased risk with larger explosion, requiring more training
• As of now, only developed by one supplier in Arusha, Tanzania
Honeyguide used Roman Candles just 30 times in Enduimet WMA over 2015 and about twice that number in other areas. This is a tool to use in extreme situations and against bull elephants in particular. After multiple seasons using the HEC toolkit, Honeyguide has required roman candles in fewer instances, perhaps being a sign of the program’s success.
In 2016, Honeyguide has already begun to experiment with new strategies and interventions. For example, again in collaboration with WAP, Honeyguide is developing their system for making Chili Bricks, or piles of dung, water, and chili, which surround the chili fence and are lit on fire at night to reinforce the deterrent effect. Honeyguide is further experimenting with other early warning systems to improve their ability to prevent crop raids before they even begin.
With several protected areas in East Africa showing increasing signs of HWC and retaliatory killings of wild animals,Honeyguide now guides nearly 500 HWC officers and community volunteers, more than five times the number ofanti-poaching wildlife scouts they support.Honeyguide’s drive to constantly adapt and experiment with interventions and methodologies embodies the necessary long-term commitment to successfully manage HEC season after season.
Honeyguide continued to innovate new ways of reducing wildlife conflict by inventing a combined toolkit with Light, Horn, firecracker and roman candle. The toolkit is made up of a simple backpack with strobe light, electric horn and firecracker. This is used when an elephant chase a person in the farm put on the horn and strobe then, fight with a backpack instead of victim.