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Earthwatch at 50: Richard Asare's story

The decline in the elephant population in Ghana’s Mole National Park has an impact not just on biodiversity, but on tourism, and therefore the local economy. 

The decline is thought to be down to two main factors: illegal poaching activities, and retaliatory killing by local communities due to elephant/human conflict.

After receiving funding from the Neville Shulman Earthwatch Awards, Richard Asare’s project aimed to combat both these issues. He tracked the elephants’ distribution around the park to help better protect them. And he developed early warning systems for elephant raids, working with rangers and farmers to minimise them, while spreading conservation messages.

Richard organised a meeting with farmers from the community to agree a series of critical actions and responsibilities. Park staff and farmers agreed to share joint night patrols along the park boundary close to high density crop areas. And farmers were taught simple deterrent methods, such as burning chilli powder mixed with elephant dung and sprinkling dung to repel elephants. Some farmers who were particularly close to the park were persuaded to relocate.

“These measures helped drastically reduce reported cases of elephant crop raids and the number of elephants killed as a result of raids by aggrieved farmers,” says Richard.

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