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- 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)
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 –
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.
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.