Over the past few years, human interest in farming and livestock keeping has affected the existence of wildlife in their natural sanctuary, and has resulted in frequent HWC with deaths recorded on both sides. Increasing human populations have added more pressure on the limited natural resource land, leading to individuals cultivating on land that has previously been wild animals’ corridors and grazing areas for livestock. The change in lifestyle from pastoralism to more sedentary forms of living has compounded this problem with the otherwise nomadic Pastoralists taking up and fencing huge tracks of land in these areas for farming.
Along with the reducing vegetation cover in the area, this has forced wild animals, especially elephants, giraffes, and others, to invade these farms and feed on farmers’ crops. Thanks to the age-old problem of predators preying on livestock, inhabitants of these areas have been at war with these wild animals, which has resulted in losses to our wildlife resource, losses to farmers, and even death as a result of HWC.
Amboseli ecosystem being the only biosphere in Kenya that human beings and wildlife coexist in the same land with over 75% of the animals living withing the community owned group ranches, has been one of the worst affected with HWC. All it takes is a herd of elephants rumbling through acres of farmland to destroy crops worth millions and a whole year of food for a community. Pastoralist have also been dealing with huge loss of livestock under the mercies of predators such as lions, jackals, hyenas, etc. So, it’s no surprise that the community who were once living peacefully with these animals are resorting to violent ways of protecting their livelihoods and the wild animals are retaliating when attacked.
In this workshop, all energies were geared towards developing innovative, non-violent, low-cost, and low-tech solutions toward HWC that can be taken up and produced by the community as an income earner and help in keeping elephants from wandering into agricultural fields, predators away from bomas, and hence reduce deadly encounters and confrontations with farmers in the Amboseli ecosystem.
All partners on board went through stages of problem solving with a focus on human-centered design; all innovations were to be designed in such a manner that would favor the human in protecting their homes and resources and be harmless to wild animals. Problem identification, persona categorization, research and exploration of different solutions and ideation exercises for prototype making were employed through the workshop, and we developed several prototypes to solve this problem that would later be iterated and refined at Gearbox.