NAIROBI, Aug 12 (Swara) – Save the Elephants (STE), the Kenyan-based research and conservation organisation, has developed a unique “how to” manual, the Human-Elephant Coexistence (HEC) Toolbox of tried and tested elephant deterrents to empower rural communities to protect their livelihoods from elephants.

Built on the success of STE’s Elephants and Bees Project in Tsavo, the Toolbox is the brainchild of Lucy King who heads up STE’s Human-Elephant Coexistence programme. Her innovative and award-winning beehive fence project, which is helping drive away crop-raiding elephants from farms in Tsavo, Kenya, has gained accolades worldwide. Over 11,000 beehives have been installed in elephant conflict sites across 84 sites across Africa and Asia.

The HEC Toolbox, which was officially launched on World Elephant Day (August 12), has been two years in the making. It comprises over 80 deterrent methods, including the successful beehive fence method, presented in a beautifully illustrated 130-page manual. The manual was illustrated by Nairobi-based artist, Nicola Heath.

Designed specifically for rural communities and NGO trainers, each page contains carefully crafted instructions alongside the ‘recipe’ for each deterrent. Among the 80 methods that can be downloaded free either individually or as an entire book in PDF format, there are watch towers, chilli fences, beehive fences, grain stores, boundary designs for schools and non-palatable crop options. All of the methods have been tested by communities across Africa and some published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The HEC Toolbox is being introduced t a time when the threat of human-elephant conflict is escalating at an alarming rate across Africa. In Kenya, the problem is exacerbated by elephant corridors being blocked by human development and a severe drought affecting large parts of the country, one of the worst seen in many years.

Both humans and elephants have lost their lives following violent altercations in the East African country. In the Samburu-Laikipia region, home to Save the Elephants’ research centre, at least 70 elephants, and possibly many more, were killed in 2021 as a result of human-elephant conflict.

King said she was inspired to create the manual following the success of her beehive fence project. “One of the main reasons people retaliate with violence against elephants is because of the damage they cause to their livelihoods, especially during tough times such as the ongoing drought in Kenya,” she said. “However, the success of our beehive fence project in Kenya is proof that there are other more peaceful ways for farmers to protect their livelihoods and, in some cases, even secure an income.

“Our new manual provides rural communities and pastoralists with a whole encyclopedia of practical, peaceful and sustainable deterrents that we hope will help promote coexistence between people and elephants for years to come. In turn, our leaders need to ensure no new infrastructure is built on wildlife corridors and that national park boundaries are respected. Elephants also need their space to roam and forage and we all have to play our part in seeking true coexistence with nature,” added King.

The Toolbox is available as both a free online PDF and as a printed book that can be ordered from Save the Elephants office in Nairobi (at cost). It will be shared with NGOs and rural communities across Africa over the coming months. It will also be presented by King at conservation-based conferences around the globe.

To view the Toolbox online, click