Electric fences and other barriers to prevent movement of elephants onto arable land are increasingly important conservation tools in Africa, as elephant populations become isolated by areas of increasing human settlement. In Laikipia District in Kenya, crop raiding by elephants is a serious problem, and many different types of elephant barriers have been built over the last 30 years. In order to assess the importance of different design factors, an experimental fence was built along the boundary of Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch in western Laikipia in 1992, and the response of the elephants was monitored. Comparison of different fences showed that there was no clear relationship between effectiveness of fences, and factors such as design, construction and voltage. Some high-specification fences have proved ineffective against elephants, while other simple fences have worked well for a long period. The previous experience of elephants with electric fences in a particular area, and shooting of fence-breakers are considered to be more important than any design criteria. Electric fences should be thought of as demarcations of ‘no-go’ areas for elephants rather than as real physical barriers, and conservation efforts should concentrate more on improved active management, rather than attempting to design fences that are effective under all circumstances.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 1995
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