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WSC-ACCBNRM, Zambia

Solar powered electric fencing

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Checking the electrical connections of a solar-powered fence

Farmers living in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia have a particularly hard time trying to grow crops in the dry season. In addition to a lack of water, they have to deal with marauding animals that are looking for food. Elephants, hippo and buffalo routinely raid crops, trampling them in the process and ruining the harvest. Illegal game hunting is sometimes the only way to provide food for their families.

In 1999, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the African College for Community Based Natural Resource Management (ACCBNRM) ran a pilot project to see whether solar powered electric fences could be used to protect crops. Four areas were fenced, each enclosing enough land to provide plots for between 40 and 60 households. In all areas, the solar powered fences reduced the number of raids by wildlife, and crop production increased. Families had vegetables to eat during the dry season, and there was a reduction in illegal game hunting. At the same time, farmers were able to spend time on other income generating activities like poultry rearing, beekeeping and carpentry.