Measures taken to curb stray elephants - Prof. Fobih
Accra, July 05, GNA - Prof Dominic Fobih, the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, on Tuesday said the Wildlife Division of the ministry has adopted several measures aimed at providing relief to farmers whose farms are being destroyed by elephants straying from the Kakum National Park.
He said the ministry recognises crop damage as the major challenge to wildlife management in general and elephants conservation in particular in the Kakum Conservation Area (KCA) and other parts of the country.
Prof Fobih said this on the floor of the House when answering a question by Rev. Benjamin B. Donkor, NPP MP for Hemang Lower Denkyira, about what the Ministry is doing to curb the incidence of elephants destroying farm crops in the communities around the Kakum National Park. The Minister said as part of the measures Wildlife Guards are deployed during the peak season to guard vulnerable farms during the day and at night to scare the elephants back into the forest.
"Farmers are also educated and taught how to use simple techniques such as the bamboo gun and other noise making devices to keep the animals off their farms in the absence of the wildlife guards." Prof Fobih said to make the application of these methods less burdensome the farmers are encouraged to form "crop protection vigilante groups" in their communities.
"These techniques have yielded results in some communities around the Kakum Park and have reduced crop damage to acceptable limits as a result of the co-operation between farmers and wildlife guards." "An FAO funded pilot project has helped improve food security in the area and that the project has contributed in reducing human/wildlife conflicts through compatible land use planning and anti-crop raiding techniques in 10 communities," he said.
Prof Fobih said the basic techniques employed in the project include a variety of "low technology" deterrent methods, which rely primarily on "fences with old rags, impregnated with used engine oil or grease-based pepper mixture."
"The elephant/human conflict in Kakum is basically a land use problem because crops such as maize, cassava, plantain and yam are usually planted close to the boundary of the reserve."
"Farmers close to the park's boundary are therefore encouraged to plant non-target crops such as pepper, ginger, oil palm and green pepper and the formation of volunteer squads or scouts in various communities to protect farms during the peak of raiding period."
The Minister said from the initial success of the pilot project, it has also become necessary to replicate the various methods and techniques to the other communities in the Eastern, Western and Southern corridors of the park.
"To that end 20 farms have been identified in 20 highly endemic communities to set up demonstrations of the anti-raid techniques."