Tag Archives: human-elephant conflict

Elephant Blackout

Hi everyone,

I’ve had a backlog of blogs because we’ve had even less electricity than usual in Zimbabwe. ‘Usual’ mostly means we only get electricity some time during the hours we are asleep, which at least cools the fridge a little and charges the inverter batteries so we can use a computer during the day.

But for the last 3 nights and 2 days, we’ve had none at all. All the carefully prepared food in our fridge rotted, and I had to throw away so many hard-to-procure meals that it was heartbreaking.

It was the elephants that did it. They come here to the ranch every night, and they are always beautiful, and always very dangerous. Last night they were so close to the house I wondered if they were going to rip the holey mosquito screens off once and for all.

Here’s a picture I took the other day of some of them, near our house—

Chishakwe elephants

A couple of days ago, some of these elephants pushed over or pulled down the power lines. I’m not sure what their reasoning was, surely living trees are more interesting to eat, but there you are, and as one guy here said, ‘I don’t speak elephant.’

They are damaging the trees between the buildings here. Typical elephant feeding signs look like this—

elephant damage

elephant damage 2

Of course, I feel privileged to share this spot of the earth with wild elephants. The conservancy is one of relatively few remaining places in Africa where elephants have enough habitat and space to roam freely, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re welcome to all the trees they want to eat. A bit of this sort of damage around the houses is par for the course, then, but beyond a certain level it does become a problem to the people living here—

Last night they broke through the electric fence around the house of the landowner in two places and destroyed all her banana trees and badly damaged a big mango tree. They also broke the pipe supplying all the water to the house. If they keep it up at this rate, I don’t think anyone is quite sure what to do.

If you’re reading this, it’s proof that someone has repaired the power lines…and that the elephants have not yet pushed them down again!