The Mali Elephant Project seeks to understand the problem in its broader context, as an integral part of the wider natural system within which both elephants and humans are embedded. The aim is to identify the key points of intervention where small changes, can together, shift the situation from one that is hostile to elephants, into a new state that is conducive to elephant conservation.
Transboundary Workshop Participants
From 2003-2006, WILD worked with our partners Save the Elephants and the Environment and Development Group to undertake field research and scientific studies, gathering information about the population, the migration and how the elephants had survived. These also identified the threats and priority actions required for their conservation. These studies showed us that we were at a critical point for elephant conservation: the elephants were in danger and that the situation had to start turning round within 5 years. The overall findings are described here.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND OUTREACH
The next step was a “listening phase” to understand local perceptions, and understand how the increasing human population and demands on resources were pushing this herd to the limit. The project held consultative meetings and workshops for all sectors of the local community, surveyed attitudes, performed socio-economic studies. These dialogues confirmed that increased environmental pressures harm both people and elephants, as articulated by one villager,
“We don’t want the elephants to disappear, because if the elephants disappear
it means the environment is no longer good for us.”
This information was used these as the basis to share information and design an outreach programme for all sectors of society; and a schools programme for the 32 schools in and around the elephant range providing information about how to live peaceably with elephants, often using what the people themselves had told us.
The aim was to create a shared vision throughout Mali that this elephant population must be conserved, and that this vision guide policies and decisions by all those engaged in the Gourma, and ultimately result in actions supporting elephant conservation. This idea is conveyed by this graphic.