Living with the Elephants in Uganda

Elephants in queen Elizabeth national park and other protected areas in Uganda have mastered their game. They know when the community crops are in yield. They always remember their traditional tracks and will make their ways to the village neighboring the park in the best time for them to find the crops. They are always looking for crops like bananas cotton, maize and others that are palatable.

On arrival, we noticed one large male elephant cross by the camp. To us, this justified the naming of the camp as “The elephant home”. Before we visited Queen Elizabeth national park, we didn’t realize that there exists an actual war between the community and the Elephants in these villages. Thank God we chose this community accommodation (The elephant home) that enriched our experience of how the communities live with the elephants. When the guide explained to us, we learnt that the elephants are smart and will always find a way to cross over every night whenever the park has no pastures or when they know the crops are in yield.

The next night, we had an early dinner after which we joined the community members of Kikorongo village  to scare off the elephants from the gardens in the early ours of the night before we went back to sleep at midnight. Chasing elephants is always done in a friendly way, without harming them. During the night, you will hear all kinds of noises of the people thumbing the tins, drums and hitting the iron sheets. The noise comes from a line of spots along the road, which also acts as the boundary between the park and the community land. The noise is supplemented with burning hot chili and elephant dunk that emit a smell disliked by the elephants.

We were surprised to learn that some community members sleep on the edge of their gardens all night to protect their crops from these elephants. We visited several fire spots and besides each fire spot was a mosquito net hanging on tree branches. These farmers risk other problems such as malaria, snakes, wildlife attacks and other challenges outside a protected wildlife area. No matter what, these wise elephants still find their way to the gardens any way, said the guide. Yes, the elephants can always make secret access to the gardens and the farmers will only be surprised when they see them cross back to the park the next morning.

Now how does the community benefit from the Elephants? This is not very clear. the only possible way is for the communities to get involved in tourism. this way, the elephants will be safer and the communities can generate some income from their existence. The Elephants that come to the Elephant home, property are never chased away by the farmers since no farming is done on this 15 acre property. Sometimes they will be camped here until 8:00am. The community has secured this property for tourism and wildlife freedom on community land.

It is truly, a sad but rewarding experience you can join during your visit to queen Elizabeth national park. Book your stay at The elephant home today!!