How to save lions with the help of vegetable faming

How to save lions with the help of vegetable farming

The SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund, a biodiversity conservation foundation based in Wülfrath, Germany, has launched a climate-smart agriculture development project to promote fruit and vegetable production in Botswana.

The “Climate Smart Agriculture Project” aims to enable people in the villages around the Okavango Delta, which are severely affected by climate change, to sustainably secure their food and income.

Furthermore, the project serves the survival of endangered wild animals such as lions, wild dogs and leopards. Especially around the Okavango Delta, there are numerous conflicts between livestock and wildlife due to excessive cattle farming. Lions have been shot or poisoned. The situation was made even more dramatic by the lack of tourists during the pandemic driving many poor people into poaching.

The Climate Smart Agriculture project thus serves both people and species conservation. Under the programme, the communities affected by COVID-19 are trained in fruit and vegetable farming which makes them independent of livestock.

They are empowered and enabled to earn money from their agricultural produce and feed themselves healthily.

Climate Smart Agriculture has been around for over a year now, and a total of five individual projects have been funded so far, each with around 5.000 euros. These include, for example, a garden in a shelter for orphans at risk. The home-grown fruit and vegetables in the centre’s garden ensure healthy nutrition for the children, and at the same time the project can generate small profits from the sale of the crops. Similarly, a community garden for organic farming has been established in another village. In addition, another horticulture project provides healthy nutrition and a small income to a total of women.

Growing fruit and vegetables in one of the most wildlife-rich regions on earth does not only mean cultivating the bone-dry soil, building water pipes and water containers as well as protective nets against the scorching sun. Above all, it means building more wildlife-friendly fences around the gardens. If this is neglected, a herd of elephants can destroy the harvest in one night.

The largest Climate Smart Agriculture project to date is a two-hectare plot of land managed by five communities. It is located in a region adjacent to an unfenced game reserve with particularly serious wildlife conflicts.

This project is part of SAVE’s Education for Conservation (E4C) programme. The aim is to strengthen the local population economically and to involve them in species conservation measures.

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