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Correlation between increased human-elephant conflict and poaching of elephants in Burkina Faso (West Africa)


Human-elephant conflict (HEC) represents a serious threat to both survival of wild elephants and human economic activities at the local level in many African regions, but has been relatively little investigated in West Africa. Here, the ecological correlates of HEC and correlation between HEC and elephant poaching, are investigated in the PONASI complex of protected areas in Burkina Faso (West Africa). Out of 144 villages surveyed, HEC was observed in 78 villages. Within this sample, we interviewed 188 local farmers who were victims of elephant damages during the period 2011–2015. Elephant raids were positively correlated with some crop types in farms (sorghum, maize, millet, and rice) and negatively with beans, and increased most significantly with increases in seeds, seedlings, plant growing and, especially, crops at maturation in the farms. Five cases of human deaths as consequence of elephant raids were also recorded. We observed a significant increase of the number of raids during the period 2011–2015, as well as of the number of elephants killed by year by poachers. Poaching was concentrated especially in the dry season (December to February), just after the end of the harvest period. There was also a clear correspondence between provinces that were more affected by elephant raids and where elephant poaching was most intense. Thus, although local poachers also likely contributed to the illegal ivory market, it was apparent that avoiding elephant raids was among the main reasons for pushing them to hunt illegally for elephants. Insufficient participation of communities hampers the PONASI protected area complex sutainable management. In order to gain the people’s support for the ideals of wildlife conservation, it is essential that they would feel that their concerns are taken into account, thus by adopting policies that minimize HEC effects on local economies.

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This research complied with the ethical guidelines developed by the British Sociological Association. We are grateful to the Ministère de l’Environnement de l’Economie Verte et du Changement Climatique of Burkina Faso for logistic advice, and to the numerous persons who answered to our questionnaires and provided useful information in the field. Two anonymous referees substantially improved the submitted draft.

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Correspondence to Emmanuel M. Hema.

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Compaore, A., Sirima, D., Hema, E.M. et al. Correlation between increased human-elephant conflict and poaching of elephants in Burkina Faso (West Africa). Eur J Wildl Res 66, 24 (2020).

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  • Human-elephant conflict
  • Elephant poaching
  • Local conservation
  • PONASI complex
  • Burkina Faso
  • West Africa