KUNENE ELEPHANT WALK – A WORTHY CAUSE TO SUPPORT

From 05 to 09 July 2022, the ‘Kunene Elephant Walk’ team will be walking a distance of 150 kilometers in 5 days through the Kunene conservancies that cover important elephant habitats and are conflict hot-spots.

Join the walk and support the cause. Details below.

Contact: Ms Josephine Kamelo of TOSCO at 081-3883490 or info@tosco.org

 

Read more below:

Desert-adapted elephants in Namibia and their importance

The desert-adapted elephants are African bush elephants that have made their homes in the Namib and Sahara deserts in Africa and can only be found in Namibia and Mali. In Namibia, the desert-adapted elephants are mostly found in the northwest part of the country along the ephemeral rivers, the Hoarusib, Ugab, and Hoanib rivers, that run from the east to the west of the escarpment and up into the highland areas. These unique large desert-adapted creatures can survive without drinking water for several days and also survive by eating vegetation that grows in riverbeds. Sometimes, they must travel long distances to reach a water source. Although not a different subspecies of savannah elephants, they have several adaptations to their desert environment, including smaller body mass, larger feet, which make it easier to walk through sand, and smaller herd sizes, which puts less pressure on their food and water sources.

Human-Elephant conflict, challenges, and solutions

Inconsistent rainfall and increasing temperatures are two impacts that place further pressure on natural resources and such changes will make agriculture difficult and reduce productivity which leads to increased problems with elephants as fewer resources mean elephants push into human settlements. The world-renown desert-adapted elephants of Namibia are few in number (less than 150) and are under tremendous pressure from habitat loss and the associated problems of human-elephant conflict. Human elephant conflict refers to the negative interactions between humans and elephants, with undesirable consequences both for people and their resources, on the one hand, and wildlife and their habitats on the other. The conflict between elephants and human exists due to increased competition for land and water resources, and a lack of knowledge on how to live together peacefully.

Elephants have an incredible sense of smell, therefore they can smell water from miles away, and out of desperation they destroy water pipes or spear their tusks through water tanks to provide water for their herd. They also destroy community gardens in search of food and this behavior is a direct threat to rural livelihoods, as there is only limited access to water and limited food available. The loss of every individual elephant as a result of causing damages to local crops and water infrastructure has long-term consequences such as when older females (matriarchs) are killed, it affects the entire herd, often leading to the loss of the baby elephants, disruption of social dynamics, and the loss of valuable “herd memory” (where to find food and water in a vast desert). Similarly, the loss of older males means there will not always be a male of reproductive age available when a female comes into estrus.

Not only is this population is important in its own right as a part of Namibia’s biodiversity heritage but is essential to tourism, an investment for conservancies and private tourism ventures and if concerted efforts are not applied to prevent further human-elephant conflict, which often leads to mortality of these elephants, their future fate is in danger.

 

Mitigate Human-Elephant Conflict

The Kunene Elephant Walk and other conservation NGOs work hard to increase community understanding of elephants’ behavior as an important natural resource worth conserving. They help mitigate conflict through simple methods, such as:

– Repellants around gardens such as chili fences,

– Constructing protective walls around the communal gardens, to protect crops

– Construction of additional water points away from home and farming areas in order to reduce damage from elephants seeking water,

– Elephant guards, to improve the understanding of rural communities on elephants, their behavior, and how to respond to them

The Kunene Elephant Walk initiative

The Kunene Elephant Walk is a non-profit organisation that aims to help conserve the unique population of desert-adapted elephants through research, monitoring, raising awareness about both the ecological and economic importance of Namibia’s rare desert-adapted elephants and threats to their survival on a local, national and international level, and raising funds for conflict prevention projects. The raised funds will be used for various conflict prevention projects in the conservancies that are within the elephant habitat in this region, such as the construction of water points, elephant-friendly fences around the communal gardens, field allowances for the elephant guards, and field equipment for ten elephant guards which includes binoculars, cameras, and full uniform.

In July 2022, the ‘Kunene Elephant Walk’ team will be walking a distance of 150 kilometers in 5 days through the Kunene conservancies that cover important elephant habitats and are conflict hot-spots.

Join Kunene Elephant Walk fundraising trek

The Elephant Walk was masterminded by John K. Kasaona together with five other members from the communities in the north-western Kunene. The trek route takes you through spectacular scenery in a remote area where amazing desert-adapted animals roam including lions, elephants, rhinos, zebras, oryx, kudus, giraffes, and springboks. The sunsets at the campsites are unbelievable and the chance to be on foot through this landscape is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This route is dominated by rocky and mountainous roads as well as river beds. The Kunene Elephant Walk guides will uncover the secrets of the Kunene region, from the beautiful landscapes to the fauna and flora.

This elephant walk is open to all nature lovers, especially those that have the beautiful and unique Desert Elephants of Namibia at heart.

By walking a distance of 150 kilometers in 5 days through conservancies covering elephant habitats, the Kunene Elephant Walk guards aim to raise awareness on the issue and empower rural communities to live together in peace with the elephants. The funds that are raised are used towards training and HEC mitigation projects such as the construction of additional water points for elephants outside villages, and protective walls around communal crop gardens.

The walk is open to all nature and hiking lovers. The participation fee is N$500, which will go towards the fundraiser. Or join for FREE by joining the fundraiser team, and raise a minimum of N$ 1000. You will be added to our online fundraising team and get a personalised link that you can easily share with your friends, family, and colleagues on social media.
The trekking route uncovers the secrets of the Kunene region, taking you through remote, less-visited areas with spectacular scenery, and home to a wide variety of flora and fauna:

– Day 1: Ongongo conservancy to Onganga (Otjiu-West conservancy): 30 km
– Day 2: Onganga to Ongango (Ombuijokanguindi conservancy): 30 km
– Day 3: Ongango to Epunguue (Ozondundu conservancy): 30 km
– Day 4: Epunguue to Okahua (Okangundumba conservancy): 30 km
– Day 5: Okahua to Otjozongombe (Omatendeka conservancy): 30 km

The group will be further briefed by the KEW team about the challenge, the route, the area, and in particular the desert-adapted elephants, before camping under the impressive starry sky.

  1. FUNDRAISING

Our goal is to reach N$ 400 000 (22,300 euros) that will be spent as follows:

  • Construction of 15 water points in Kunene region N$50 000/water point (2,800 euros/water point)
  • Constructing protective walls around the communal gardens, to protect crops N$20 000/garden *50 gardens (1,200 euros/garden)
  • Field equipment for 10 Kunene Elephant Walk guards (10 binoculars N$10 000 (555 euros), 10 cameras N$ 69 000 (3,830 euros), 10 full uniforms (hat, shirt, trousers, and safety boots) N$2000/guard *10 =N$ 20,000 (1200 euros)) N$ 81 000  (4,500 euros)
  • So many trainings N$1 000/elephant guards (3 guards/conservancy) (55 euros)
  • Elephant walk logistics (Fuel for the backup vehicle N$10,000 (555 euros), portable toilet N$7800 (430 euros)) N$17,800 (990 euros)

By donating to this cause you will help to alleviate and reduce human-elephant conflict, which will benefit both these wonderful animals and the people who are willing to coexist with them.

How will the funds be raised?

  • Donations from Namibians via a local fundraiser platform (Give-Today page) that is communicated on Namibian platforms (social media posts and videos that can be shared, magazines, and newspapers).
  • Donations from internationals via an international fundraiser platform (GoFundMe page) that is communicated by individuals (our international team members) as well as social media platforms with international followers.
  • Collecting participant fees: N$ 500 to participate for 5 days (or N$ 100 per day).
  • Fundraising by the participants: they raise a minimum of N$ 1000 (or N$ 200 per day) to participate for free, and get a free t-shirt.
  1. LOGISTICS OF THE WALK 

Daily schedule:

Meeting point: Opuwo (05 July 2022) Time: (John will provide the time later)

Accommodation: Participants will be camping for the duration of their walk. This is wild camping so there are no showers or toilet facilities during your time in the desert.

What to bring: Own food and camping equipment. NB: There will be a backup car to carry their camping equipment and food during the walk.

Transport: All participants need to cover their transport costs.

Costs and paid by whom: 

  • Cost of 1 round neck t-shirt N$ 100/shirt incl. front and back print – paid by Kunene Elephant Walk (only if they get funds from participants).
  • Text: In front: KEW LOGO and at the back: ELEPHANT WALK