Sustaining Local Support for Elephant Conservation near Ruaha, Tanzania
The Rungwa-Ruaha ecosystem contains the largest elephant population in East Africa, despite ongoing threats that have reduced its numbers by 77% since 2009. Poaching represents the most immediate threat, often supported by local people whose lives and livelihoods are put at continuous risk by elephant crop-raiding activities. Because any effort to protect this critically important elephant population must have support of the people who share the landscape with elephants, this project aims to change that adversarial relationship to one of appreciation and conservation. A conservation education program that includes a park visitation program, teacher training and conservation education in primary schools, community discussions and showings of wildlife films will meaningfully engage every person living in each of the 21 villages bordering Ruaha National Park. This multi-pronged approach will create a sense of personal investment in elephant conservation that will be the foundation for sustainable co-existence between elephants and the local community.