|Space for Giants
Gabon has the largest critically endangered forest elephant population in Africa, with a recent estimate of 90,000 individuals. These elephants are increasingly coming into conflict with smallholding farmers, who are important food growers for Gabon’s rapidly increasing urban population. In December 2021, the Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF) awarded Space for Giants a grant to trial their low-cost and low-specification electric fence design to protect farms from crop raids in Gabon. This novel mobile fence design uses a tiered approach by first starting with a simple one-strand electric fence, with the option of increasing the electrical components and complexity of the fence if elephants learn to cross the cheaper, simpler design. This design is suited for small-scale individual farmers who can move, fix and manage the deterrent fences themselves. The grant also funded the purchase of 20 camera traps to assist in monitoring the effectiveness of the fence. With ECF funding, Space for Giants installed 20 electric fences, protecting 10.2 hectares of farmland. 164 individuals benefited from this grant and were trained on the basic functioning, maintenance and monitoring of the fences. By the end of the grant period, Space for Giants had installed 80 more fences with additional funding leveraged from other donors. 62 elephant crop raid attempts were recorded but only four of those attempts were successful. The other 58 attempts were deterred by the single-wire fences. With a remarkable success rate of 95% in deterring elephants, the fences not only ensured effective protection but also empowered the farmers to safeguard their own farms. Space for Giants is working on a national roll-out of 500 units in 2023 in partnership with Gabon’s Ministry of Water and Forests and the Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN).