Action Sheet

  • Location :
    West Africa
  • Species status :
  • Period :


Field operator

The association “Des Éléphants et des Hommes” is dedicated to elephant conservation and improved human-elephant coexistence.

West African elephants have a particularly uncertain future. Today, they represent only 1% of the whole African elephant population and their  distribution accounts  for  less  than 5% of the species´ total range. At present the main threat posed to the species is the reduction and fragmentation of its habitat. Poaching affects some elephant populations in the region but is considered to be a secondary and more localized threat. While some populations are probably no longer viable due to their isolation and small size, “Des Éléphants et des Hommes” decided in 2006 to concentrate its conservation efforts on the Boucle du Mouhoun elephant population in Burkina-Faso. The population was roughly estimated at about 300-600 individuals; however the association´s knowledge about this species is still fragmentary.

The challenges faced to preserve the elephants and their habitat in the long term are considerable, particularly since a precondition would be to achieve harmonious coexistence with the inhabitants of the region and this has thus been given priority in the association’s efforts. Since 2007, “Des Éléphants et des Hommes” has been working on an environmental education program for schoolchildren. Between 2007 and  2011  over  1,500  10-year olds were accompanied by their teachers to participate in organized “elephant discovery” outings. A statistic that may surprise us is that more than 80% of the children who participated in this initiative had never seen an  elephant  before, despite  living  within a radius of 30 km around the forest of the “Deux-Balé” National Park. During these field trips, the children learn through games why natural ecosystems are important. They also learn that  elephants  play  a key role in the functioning of the ecosystem; with their droppings, for example, they participate in the dissemination of seeds and in the replanting of  the  trees  they feed on.

For the next three years, the association  “Des Éléphants et des Hommes” will support the development of the educational program and the establishment of alternative income-generating activities for the villages bordering the protected areas which are frequented by  elephants.  This initiative will be very important in order to encourage the area´s inhabitants not to over-exploit and degrade their natural environment while strengthening their ability to develop sustainable activities dealing with flora and fauna conservation. “Des Éléphants et des Hommes” will also support the efforts to monitor the region´s ecosystems and human-elephant conflicts.

Field operator

The association “Des Elephants & des Hommes” focuses on educating and increasing awareness among children living in areas co-inhabited by wild elephants.

The organization has been implementing the program  “Enfants & Éléphants” (“Children & Elephants”) since 2001, which from 2011 onwards will become and be known as “Mon Voisin Elephant” (“My Neighbor Elephant).

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  1. Enhance the environmental education initiative for the inhabitants of the region to become aware of the different issues and become the main participants in the conservation of the region´s ecosytem
  2. Conduct a socio-cultural survey concerning the role the elephant in the human communities around the forests of Mouhoun.
  3. Carry out both a land and aerial count of the elephants and fauna present in the “Deux Balé” protected area and in the Mouhoun region.
  4. Continue the monitoring of the “Deux Balé” protected area.
  5. Develop income-generating activities while establishing monitoring activities of the different human-elephant conflicts along the boundaries of the protected areas.
  6. Enhance the ecotourism potential of the protected area


Enhance the environmental education initiative

“Des Elephants et des Hommes” considers that education is the first necessary measure towards the conservation of nature, because it makes the region´s inhabitants aware of the issues and enables them to become the key players in conservation issues. Since 2006, the association is carrying out an educational initiative at the “Deux Balé” protected area called “Kids and Elephants of the Boromo region” ( 20 schools participate annually in this program and the association has already taken about 1,500 children along with their teachers to see the elephants in the wild. 80% of the children had never seen an elephant before. Parents and peers of the children have also been directly affected by this initiative as they will have shared their experience with them. For 2011 and future years the association will:

  • Take 25 groups of 10 year olds to the “nature classes” to see the elephants in the wild
  • produce and distribute a new educational booklet titled “Mon Voisin Éléphant” – “My Neighbor the Elephant” among teachers and school children in order to reach more students and schools.
  • conduct a study on the impact of the educational program on school children.
  • increase by means of the distribution the booklet, the number of schools with which the organization collaborates.

Conduct a socio-cultural survey concerning the role the elephants in the human communities inhabiting the areas around the forests of Mouhoun.

“Des Éléphants et des Hommes” believes that humans are at the heart of the conservation actions and that it is therefore necessary to understand the opinion of the region´s inhabitants in order for them to become actively involved in the conservation of their natural heritage. The association aims to;

  • better understand the cultural connection between the people and elephants inhabiting the region,
  • better assess and understand the cultural value of the elephant, other wildlife and  forests (some of which contain sacred sites).
  • integrate all of this new knowledge into education initiatives that the association is implementing in schools as well as into the conservation actions outlined.

Carry out both a land and aerial count of the elephants and fauna present in the protected area of “Deux Balé” and in the Mouhoun region.

  • establish a management blueprint for future years (the last aerial count of the Mouhoun region elephants was carried out in 2005 and the last wildlife terrestrial count in the “Deux Balé” protected area took place in the nineties).
  • confirm and assess the presence of the elephants in some of the region´s forests that are less protected and whose conservation status is unknown.
  • assess the need to restore corridors between the forests of Mouhoun and envisage the possibility of creating one between the Mouhoun elephant population and that present at the Burkina Faso – Ghana border of the PNKT group-Nazinga-Sissili-Bagré.

Continue the monitoring of the “Deux Balé” protected area

The monitoring unit at “Deux Balé” seeks to reduce illegal and detrimental activities in the forests. This  monitoring unit is essential for the restoration of the region´s ecosystems. The monitoring will include;

  • regular patrols of all parts of the protected area
  • control measures to reduce the park´s  illegal activities
  • maintenance of the tracks that were brought back into service in 2009.

Develop income-generating activities while establishing monitoring activities of the different human-elephant conflicts along the protected area´s boundaries.

This objective is essential to ensure the future of the region´s natural habitats and elephant populations. Backed by five years of environmental education and two years of protected area rehabilitation experience, “Des Éléphants et des Hommes” is aware that in order to ensure the area´s long-term conservation, its inhabitants must become key players of the latter. Primarily agricultural, the villages located around the protected area have benefited from the illegal but economically important forest activities such as livestock grazing, firewood collection, poaching, fishing and traditional gold mining. It is therefore essential to develop alternative income-generating activities that will value and protect the forests as well as their wildlife. In addition every year farmers loose a considerable proportion of their crop production due to their destruction by the elephants. The problem is therefore still badly monitored because of the lack of financial backup. It is thus essential to:

  • conduct a formal and detailed survey of the crop damage as well as of other forms of conflict
  • train farmers with the available mitigation techniques
  • encourage village development committees (RRC) inhabiting the immediate border of forests to develop long-term alternative income-generating activities (beekeeping, herb collection and packaging, production of crops that are not attract elephants, valuing of non-timber products, rearing of small wildlife, collection of fodder for livestock …).

Enhance the ecotourism potential of the protected area

  • increasing the protected area´s visitor capacity
  • communicating with the public locally, nationally and internationally
  • developing quality touristic products.


- In January, 2013 -

A growing education campaign in Burkina Faso

The educational booklet “My elephant neighbour” of the association Des Elephants & des Hommes (Elephants & Humans) has been distributed for the first time in all the primary schools of the Balé area, and in some schools of the Mouhoun: so more than 9000 children are sensitized to elephant protection!

Distribution of the booklet in a school of the Balé area © Julien Marchais, Des Eléphants & des Hommes

- In October, 2012 -

Results of the wildlife inventory of the Deux-Balé nature reserve

Last February, the association Des Eléphants & des Hommes (Elephants & Humans) have supported the protected areas national department of Burkina-Faso for the wildlife inventory of the Deux-Balé nature reserve (see the The Explorers Foundation newsletter n°12). In total, on 404 kilometers travelled on foot, 123 animals of 12 mammal species have been observed, including 36 elephants observed in two times. This low wildlife concentration (less than one animal by km) and the high number of illegal activities (202 in total) show that the animal populations have decreased and are still decreasing in the protected area. However, it’s nice to note that the animal diversity in the area is still important and that emblematic species such as elephants are still well represented. This inventory is a precious picture of the current situation. Its regular repetition will allow Des Eléphants & des Hommes to monitor the ecosystem quality and support its restoration.

Forest ranger taking data on the field (Julien Marchais, Des E & des H)

- In August, 2012 -

Biodiversity and culture in Burkina-Faso

The association Elephants & Humans (E & H) recently started two initiatives in Burkina-Faso:

-          Survey on the archaeological heritage of the Deux-Balé protected Area and surroundings: several relic sites of prehistoric times (Neolithic sites) and also relic sites of more recent times (metallurgic sites and anthropogenic hillock) have already been identified;

-          Inventory of the cultural sites around Boromo: a lot of different ones have been identified such as Ouroubonon’s hyena trap, Ouahabou’s mosque or Siby’s potteries.

While elephants benefit from action priority of ” E & H”, the promotion of archaeological and cultural sites allows to link human activity with elephant conservation, with the ambition of developing the ecotourism potentialities which aims to same objectives.

Elephants, source of development and beneficiary of ecotourism (© Des E & des H)

- In June, 2012 -

First honey harvest in the Deux-Balé area

In order to limit human activities pressure on the elephant habitat, the association Des elephants & des Hommes (elephants & humans) develops alternative economic activities for local communities. Among these activities, apicultures is already showing positive results. Among the 30 beehive installed, 22 are colonized by bees and 19 could be harvested, with the record of 21 kg of honey in one beehive!

The new beekeepers trained in 2011 (cf The Explorers Foundation Newsletter of Nov.-Dec.) had their first big harvest, last weeks. Their entire production has been sold on local trade. A real success for the association’s involvement on this project.

Honey harvest next to the Deux-Balé protected area (© Des E & Des H)

- In April, 2012 -

Inventory of “Les Deux-Balé” Reserve

« Des Éléphants & des Hommes » (Elephants and humans) association with the Burkina Faso Protected Areas National Service recently inventoried the fauna of « Les Deux-Balé » Reserve. During one week, 45 people walked along 15 kilometres transects each day, looking for tracks of big mammals such as elephants and also smaller animals. The inventory will allow “Des E & des H” to know about the conservation state of local fauna (available soon). Next years inventory will be necessary to learn about the evolution of local biodiversity and effectiveness of conservation actions.

Picture of the inventory group (©Julien Marchais / Des E & Des H)

- In March, 2012 -

A new method to reduce conflicts between humans and elephants

Last year, Elephants and Humans Association (E&H) has been conducting surveys to identify the main sites of conflicts between the elephants and local villagers around the protected area of Deux-Balé. Elephants have been particularly attracted by matured crops: damages have been recorded in cultures of 37 families, living mainly on the edge of the forest.

This kind of result shows the relevance of E&H activities such as the benefit generating activities (see the use of beehives on last The Explorers Foundation’s newsletter: Nov.-Dec.). At the beginning of this year, E&H implemented sustainable collecting and conditioning of local medicinal plants.  Forests of the Mouhoun in fact are a very rich pool of plant biodiversity that can be used in traditional medicine. Six representatives of the villages boarding the reserve have followed a training to take advantage of this resource. This kind of benefit generating activity encourages local community to conserve the elephant habitat, by increasing its value.

- In December, 2011 –

Hives to provide sustainable development within the Deux-Balé forest in Burkina-Faso

When one visits the Deux-Balé Reserve, presently being restored, one does not come across many animals: elephants seasonally, red monkeys (called patas) and some bird species. Looking rather more closely, one notices that there are also some fine colonies of wild honeybees, generally, hanging from baobab trees (a tree species typical of dry areas within tropical Africa). This observation gave the association “Des Éléphants & Des Hommes” the idea of ​​developing the production of honey within the protected area of the Deux-Balé National Park as a means of protecting while also developing the park´s forested areas. Ten farmers from ten local villages were trained with each receiving three hives to start their beekeeping activity. In the coming months, the association will strive to monitor the occupation of the hives, the development of the bee colonies and the production and sale of the honey from Deux-Balé.

- In November, 2011 –

Regular monitoring of the nature reserve:  a necessary action

A nature reserve that is being rehabilitated is a fragile environment. Natural flora and fauna will flourish afresh only if the factors that have in the past put pressure on the environment are minimized.  For the Deux-Balé reserve and its elephants, livestock left loose and the seasonal visits of breeders are among the most important of these factors. The monitoring activities of the reserve were reestablished in 2009 at a sufficient level through the implementation of regular patrols on foot and bicycle. The monitoring team has the power to issue fines, to seize weapons from poachers, to apprehend people carrying out illegally activities within the park and to impound cattle left loose. The maintenance of these surveillance activities is imperative as a preventive measure and this is why “Des Éléphant & des Hommes” supports this activity.

- In October, 2011 –

Reconciling farmers and elephants through controlled mowing and storage of natural fodder.

Straying by livestock and the installation of seasonal camps by cattle breeders are among the factors exerting the greatest pressure on the protected forests of Mouhoun, which are home to the last elephants in the region. 30,000 cattle roamed around the Deux-Balé protected area until the launch of its restoration program in 2009. The consequences of this were devastating. Since 2010, the newly implemented surveillance activities have reduced drastically the practice of cattle ranching. Consequently ranchers found themselves with no land available as pasture. “Des Elephants & des Hommes” have thus developed a new activity consisting in controlled mowing activity in certain areas of the reserve, to enable access the breeders to have access to quality forage for their animals, suitably prepared and stored. Twenty farmers have thus been trained and equipped with materials.

- In September, 2011 –

Alternative activities to combat deforestation in Burkina Faso

One of the key objectives of the Elephant Program is to develop income-generating activities in order to reduce deforestation in Burkina Faso, which has the effect of diminishing the habitat area of the elephants while increasing the number of human-elephant conflicts. As part of this program, the association “Des Éléphants & des Hommes”, supports the production of Soumbala, a food condiment derived from Nere seeds (Parkia biglobosa). The Nere tree is common to the villages and its seeds are thus easily available. To produce the soumbala, these seeds are left out in the sun before being fermented by way of several cooking cycles.

This work is done mainly by women and this year, the program will be supporting the training of ten female producers of soumbala, from four villages bordering the Deux-Balé reserve.

In the coming months, the association “Des Éléphants & des Hommes” will monitor the production and sale of soumbala in order to assess the program´s sustainability and longevity.

- In August, 2011 -

The start of the rearing of cane rats

As part of its program to save the elephants in Africa, the association “Des Éléphants & des Hommes” set up income-generating activities around the Deux-Balé reserve. They started with a project to rear cane rats (Thryonomys swinderianus), a species of large rodent that lives in the western and southern Africa. Rearing of cane rats is already being carried out in several parts of Africa and the association believes that this activity has potential in the Mouhoun region. It is expected that by the end of the year ten farmers will be trained in the production of cane rats. Therefore the residents of these natural spaces can participate willingly in the conservation of elephant and other wildlife while fulfilling their own economic interests.

Photo: To start a farm, it is necessary to build enclosures for the breeding of the cane rats. Project beneficiaries have already built their barns and are ready for training.

- In July, 2011 -

Awareness campaigns in schools

As part of its continuing awareness campaigns in schools, the association “Des Elephants & des Hommes” is conducting a series of workshop with middle school teachers of the Balé province in the Mouhoun region. Overall, 162 schools participated in the initiative, benefiting almost 9,000 students. The educational booklet entitled “The Elephant my Neighbor” offers children a story that helps them to understand the problems of co-habitation that can arise between humans and elephants, as well as the instincts and feelings of these creatures.  Thanks to a selection of photographs taken in the Mouhoun forests, the booklets enable the students to learn about their elephant neighbors, almost 90% of elementary school students never having even seen one!

This year the booklet will be used on an experimental basis. The association envisions a wider distribution for the 2011-2012 school year.

- In June, 2011-

School outreach programs

After having successfully completed its “nature class” program from January to March, the association “Des Elephants & des Hommes” began in April to distribute in schools its educational bo

oklet entitled “My Elephant Neighbor ”. This booklet presents a story to children about what is at stake in the coexistence between humans and elephants and helps them to better understand the relationship with elephants.  Thanks to a selection of photographs from the Black Volta forests, the book permits the children to become acquainted with their elephant neighbors. Surprisingly nearly 90% of elementary students have never encountered an elephant (statistic based on a sample of 1500 early middle school students around Mouhoun). This year the booklet will be used in a trial study in partnership with schools and teachers. “Des Eléphants & des Hommes” envisages a wider distribution of the booklet in the school year 2011-2012.

- In May, 2011-

A new project for the African elephant in Burkina-Faso

The challenges to ensure the long-term conservation of the African elephant and that of its habitat are considerable, because it is imperative to establish a harmonious coexistence with the inhabitants of the region. “Des Éléphant & des Hommes” began its work in 2007 with the development of an environmental education program for schoolchildren in Burkina-Faso. Between 2007 and 2011, over 1,500 10 year old schoolchildren along with their teachers participated in the so-called “nature classes” to go and see the elephants in the wild. A statistic that may surprise us is that more than 80% of the participating children had never previously seen an elephant before even though they lived within a 30km radius of the Deux-Balé forest. It is to continue and strengthen actions the The Explorers Foundation with Okay have engaged in project with the association “Des Eléphants et des Hommes”.

- In March, 2011-

Launch of new African elephant conservation program

Late March 2011 – The Fonds de dotation pour la Biodiversité has embarked on a three-year partnership with the French association “Des Eléphants et des Hommes” in favor of the conservation of the African elephant. This species is classified as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List. “Des Eléphants et des Hommes” has already been working since 2006 to conserve the elephant populations of Muhoun at Burkina Faso. The program’s main objectives are to strengthen environmental education activities, to track and monitor elephant populations as well as human-elephant conflicts and to develop the ecotourism potential of the area.

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