Sustainable solutions

for the coexistence

of wildlife and people




Forests, Elephants and People Project


By 1800, there were an estimated 20 million elephants in Africa alone. A hundred years later there were only around 10 million left, due to massive hunting and the ivory trade. In 1973-76, the years of the first aerial elephant census, around 1.3 million animals were recorded. Today there are still around 400,000 elephants roaming through Africa's savannahs and forests. Around 40,000 are poached every year or fall victim to human/wildlife conflicts. In Asia, the number of wild, free-living elephants is only around 40,000, which are now left out of the once many millions.


Our work in Africa

While elephants in open landscapes such as savannahs or semi-deserts have been relatively well researched and can be reasonably monitored from the air, the situation in forest regions is much more difficult. The elephant populations in the forest regions of western Kenya, where we began our first studies a few years ago, have been much less researched than the elephants in the large savanna parks, such as in Amboseli or Tsavo. We are particularly interested in the small elephant population in the mountain rainforests of Mount Elgon in western Kenya. These animals are very special because they are the only elephants in the world that do “mining”. In order to get salt and important minerals, they have been digging them from the cave walls of the extinct volcano for thousands of years, dug the caves hundreds of meters deeper into the mountain. Just a few decades ago the population was around 1,200 animals, roaming through the mountain forests on both the Kenyan and Ugandan sides. Due to massive poaching and conflicts with local farmers, the number fell to a few hundred, who are extremely shy, sometimes aggressive and therefore difficult to observe. Estimated numbers range from less than a hundred to around 375 animals. If this local population dies out, a very unique “culture” among African elephants will be lost. The knowledge of how to penetrate the pitch-dark caves to get the vital salt has been passed on to elephants for many generations. Elephants that are resettled, for example, would not have this knowledge and could hardly survive in the mineral-poor mountain forests.

In 2017, we started a permaculture project, a food forest, in the foothills of the mountain to test whether the living situation in village communities can be improved and whether food forests as small biotopes can act as stepping stones for connecting ecosystems. We are particularly interested in the region around Mount Elgon and we plan to promote and work more in this region in the future. read more ...


Our work in Asia

... began in 2013 with the first projects on coexistence with big cats and elephants, first in Nepal, then in Thailand and Cambodia. From the very beginning, the involvement and support of the local population was at the core of the project and we supported educational projects and helped some village communities with drinking water filters. The contact with the Save Elephant Foundation and its leader Saengduean "Lek" Chailert opened doors to elephant conservation in Southeast Asia, to the Karen hill tribe and took us to Cambodia, where we opened an office in Seam Reap. In poverty-stricken Cambodia, the focus of our work was particularly on helping the local population. At the end of 2016, we initially stopped our work in Southeast Asia to work in Kenya.

Through research on coexistence with elephants and big cats in Southeast Asia, we came across the Karen people's organization Kesan and a project they initiated, the Salween Peace Park. We would like to get to know this project better and are planning a documentary film to examine the transferability of the methods implemented there to other regions, for example in Africa. The Karen are the "Elephant People" of Asia and we are particularly interested in the coexistence of Karen and elephants. With the planned film project we are resuming our work in Southeast Asia.

Salween Peace Park, photo:


A film about the Salween Peacepark: