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What is a Wildlife Fence and Why is it Important?

Wildlife fences come in many different forms, but they are all broadly designed to achieve the same goal; stop wildlife entering people’s land and causing damage to crops, livestock and people themselves, to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

As the habitat of many species continues to be encroached upon by human pressures and the effects of climate change, many animals are often forced to search for food outside of their natural habitat, in human-dominated terrain. It may be gorillas leaving their forest home to raid farmer’s fields or leopards killing livestock as they struggle to find wild prey. In some cases animals may even kill people if the two cross paths, often leading to calls for the animals to be killed in revenge.


Avoiding human-wildlife conflict is therefore vital, both to save the lives and livelihoods of local communities and to prevent animal’s destructive behaviour causing resentment among local populations and therefore undermining support for conservation. We include them in Conservation Crisis and when you build them you’ll save wildlife when a crop-raiding event happens and secure the wildlife habitat to help animals breed naturally, all increasing your wildlife population. You’ll also gain more community support for your conservation work, so the fences are well worth building.


In our game we call them wildlife fences, reflecting a wide diversity of different designs that exist around the world. We’ve put a few examples of different innovative approaches to building these wildlife fences below:


Lion Lights


A young Kenyan inventor came up with the idea for ‘Lion Lights’ as a way to protect his family’s cattle from lion attacks. A great example of simple technological and engineering solutions to a natural problem, it’s one of our favourites, and the video of his TED talk is a must-see.


Bee Fences


Another favourite of ours (that Rich came across years ago and has since been telling everyone he meets about!) is a fence made out of beehives. Research out of Oxford University conducted by Dr Lucy King in partnership with Save the Elephants found that elephants had a fear of bees, which lead to the development of fences of connected beehives. When an elephant walks into the wire that connects the hives in a fence, it disturbs the bees who then swarm out, causing the elephants to flee. Farmers who build the fences also get free honey, offering a double win for them; keeping their crops safe and increasing their revenue. Find out more here.


Chillies


Elephants seem to be the subject of quite a few of these fence ideas, but as such large animals that need vast expanses of habitat to roam, it is perhaps inevitable efforts focus upon keeping them out of crop fields. An approach that has been around for over a decade involves using chillies to keep elephants away – the big animals don’t like them, so steer clear. Farmers can either plant the chillies around important crops of burn ‘chilli bricks’ to use the scent to keep elephants away. Find out more here.


Tiger Masks


Villagers in India have used their knowledge of tiger behaviour to come up with a creative solution to stop tiger attacks on people. They knew tigers often stalked and attacked form behind, so villagers created masks they could wear on the back of their heads to stop the attacks happening. Find out more about that and a good summary of a few different wildlife fence ideas here.