Elephants or Avocados?
Posted: May 1, 2021
In a battle between an elephant and an avocado, who wins? That’s easy—the elephant!
Right . . . and wrong. Avocados aren’t much of a threat to elephants, of course. But avocado farms can be.
A company called KiliAvo is making big plans to grow avocados in Kenya. Lots of avocados! Here’s the trouble: An electric fence on the avocado farm will block elephants from taking their usual route along the Kimana Wildlife Corridor. The corridor is a path. It runs right between two areas already settled by humans. If elephants stay on the corridor, they don’t bother people and people don’t bother them.
But . . . here comes the avocado farm. “Local people here all know the project and they are happy,” says avocado farm manager Jeremiah Salaash. New avocado farms will create jobs for people who need them. They will also make the land they stand on more valuable.
It’s true that avocados are bringing big money to Kenya these days. People all over the world want the super-healthy fruits, which are packed with vitamins, fiber, and good fats. But is avocado money worth the effect these new farms might have on elephants?
Vicki Fishlock is a scientist working for the Amboseli Elephant Trust group. She says, “We can’t just say to the elephants: ‘Would you mind not going that way because we have decided that we are going to do stuff here?’”
Imagine this. Avocado farms are built. They block the wildlife corridor. Elephants still need to move around. They look for another route. The massive animals wander through people’s villages. They trample or eat crops. Growers get angry. They decide to get rid of the big gray nuisances.
Human-elephant conflict can lead to death, for both elephants and people. Elephants need protection. They don’t need fights with farmers.