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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Living with the modern conservation paradigm: can agricultural communities co-exist with elephants? A five-year case study in East Caprivi, Namibia

Published source details

O'Connell-Rodwell C.E., Rodwell T., Rice M. & Hart L.A. (2000) Living with the modern conservation paradigm: can agricultural communities co-exist with elephants? A five-year case study in East Caprivi, Namibia. Biological Conservation, 93, 381-391


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Use target species distress calls or signals to deter crop damage by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated study in 1994 at three waterholes in a grassland area in East Caprivi, Namibia (O'Connell-Rodwell et al. 2000) found that playing warning calls of elephants Loxodonta africana did not, in most cases, deter elephants from remaining at a site. In eight trials at three sites, groups of elephants (5–30 animals) were deterred from the site during three trials and undeterred during five. In six further trials involving 1–3 bull elephants, the animals were not deterred. Trail groups were not independent and some involved the same animals. Elephant warning calls, produced during times of apparent natural distress events, were recorded. They were played back on a portable cassette player at approximately 15-m distance from each herd as they visited water holes. Playback was activated when elephants pushed a tripwire.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)

Use loud noises to deter crop damage (e.g. banger sticks, drums, tins, iron sheets) by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated study in 1993–1995 of farmland and grassland at 10 villages in East Caprivi, Namibia (O'Connell-Rodwell et al. 2000) found that car sirens connected to trip wires around crops were partially successful in reducing crop raiding by elephants Loxodonta africana. Sirens at three villages in the first year were all reported to have positive effects of reducing crop-raiding by elephants (actual crop-raiding frequencies not reported). In the second year, a positive effect of sirens was reported from one village, whilst elephants did not approach at three villages (so the system was untested) and at two further villages, the crop area was too large to protect using the system. In the third year, three villages reported positive effects whilst at a fourth, battery failure rendered the system ineffective. Sirens each protected 1–7 farms at 10 villages during one or two years of the trial. Each system comprised a car siren, a 12-V battery and a 10-s timer. Polyethylene cords were mounted on fences or trees to enclose fields. The siren activated for 10 s when the cord was pulled. Data were collated from questionnaire surveys in 1993–1995.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)

Install electric fencing to protect crops from mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, before-and-after study in 1991–1995 on farmland and grassland at four sites in East Caprivi, Namibia (O'Connell-Rodwell et al. 2000) found that some electric fences reduced crop losses to elephants Loxodonta africana. At one village, where 31 farms were enclosed within a 9.5-km-long permanent electric fence, there were no compensation claims for losses to elephants over two years following installation, compared to 30 claims over the previous three years. A 4-km-long permanent electric fence at another site was unsuccessful, due to inadequate installation or maintenance. At a third site, temporary electric fences kept out elephants at one village in one year. In the second year, the fence was effective but elephants were able to walk around the side. At a fourth temporary fence site, no elephants returned after electric fence installation, so its effectiveness was untested. The two, 2 m-high, permanent steel wire electric fences comprised two strands of 2-mm steel wire attached to trees or poles. The temporary fences (<2 km long) at two villages comprised polyurethane cords, threaded with wire strands, strung between trees. Fences were powered by 12-volt batteries. Data were collated from questionnaire surveys in 1991–1995.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)