As mentioned in my previous blog, this Christmas we are supporting the wonderful Ecoexist through our Christmas appeal. Ecoexist focus on human-elephant conflict in Botswana, enabling communities to live alongside elephants. It was their work on the Elephant Economy that initially caught my eye – it’s extremely well-aligned with our own approach, demonstrating how nature can provide economic benefits to local communities through tourism and other enterprise-related opportunities.
The organisation is really delivering significant positive impact in Botswana, and as many of you will be aware, the current situation in Botswana makes their work even more important. As we launch this fundraising appeal, I wanted to highlight some of the key priorities Ecoexist have at the moment:
- At the top of the list for Ecoexist is Elephant Aware Farming. This is focused on supporting local communities’ practise sustainable conservation agriculture practices and planning. The aim here is to pre-empt human elephant conflict rather than, as is often the case, address it after it has happened. This includes changing harvest times to avoid coinciding with elephant movement through the area, and increasing yields from smaller areas of land. If you would like a deeper insight into this work, there is a great write up here from WWF.
- In January, Ecoexist will launch the Elephant Express. These two buses that have been designed to transport children and clinic goers across elephant corridors, helping to increase safety around elephants, while at the same time raising awareness. Again, by avoiding potential conflict rather than mitigating it after the fact, this simple approach will make a vast difference to the perception of elephants by local communities.
- Lastly, Ecoexist continue to champion Elephant Aware Enterprises. These businesses are developing ways to increase the benefits coming back to local people that are living with elephants. Travel through Life with Elephants brings much needed alternative revenue streams. It enables travellers to understand better the challenges of living with elephants, while at the same time stimulating secondary economies, with crafts shops selling local handicrafts. The scheme as a whole clearly demonstrates the link between elephant welfare and local community, and so helps shift perceptions. On which note, may I highly recommend – as a new year gift – the beautiful Ecoexist X bracelet (Bea Bond) – 100% of proceeds are donated to Ecoexist.
And that’s hardly scraping the surface of what this extraordinary organisation does. However, it gives you a flavour of the good work, and amply explains why we are so keen to champion them. We hope that if you are planning on giving over the festive season that you will consider supporting Ecoexist.
If you are interested in supporting Ecoexist, please click here.