They are betting the best ways to save elephants is to fatten cattle.Set up in the heart of the expansive Laikipia plateau 18 months ago by conservationists and a local rancher, its managers are taking a novel and longer-term approach to protecting the world’s largest land mammal in which tackling poaching is only a part of the solution.“Just say we stop poaching,” says Max Graham, one of Loisaba’s founders and the chief executive of Space for Giants, an elephant protection organisation. “Then you’ve got all these elephants. How are you going to deal with them?
A particular concern is ensuring that elephants are not seen as competition for livestock farmers who are rearing an increasing number of cattle to feed the burgeoning population. Loisaba’s response is the Livestock to Markets programme. With backing from the Nature Conservancy, a US charity, Loisaba buys farmers’ cattle, fattens them up and sells them at a better price directly to butchers, thereby cutting out the middlemen.Profits are then shared between the conservancy and the farmers, who might otherwise fight over territory.
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