Living Walls: Environmentally-Friendly, Predator-Proof Corrals Protect Livestock From Lions

August 4, 2017

Tanzania, United Republic of Placeholder
Tanzania, United Republic of

Living Walls: Environmentally-Friendly, Predator-Proof Corrals Protect Livestock From Lions

About the Implementing organization

Name: Tanzania People & Wildlife

Country: Tanzania, United Republic of

Year of establishment: 2008

Type of organization: Legally recognized non-profit status

Description

Living Walls are environmentally-friendly corrals that keep livestock safe from predators. To build a Living Wall, community members plant a circle of indigenous trees that serve as posts for chain-link fencing. As the trees grow, they add height to the wall and create an impenetrable barrier. Living Walls prevent the loss of livestock and the retaliatory killing of large carnivores with a 99% success rate. Living Walls were designed hand-in-hand with the local people; the innovation of planting living trees as fence posts was a Maasai idea that differed from standard predator-proof corrals using wooden or metal fence posts. As a home grown innovation, awareness of and demand for Living Walls is high from communities across northern Tanzania. Local involvement is strong, with individuals contributing 25% of the cost of the fencing. To date, more than 750 Living Walls are positively impacting 12,500 adults and children and keeping more than 125,000 livestock safe every night.

The diverse benefits of our innovative Living Walls program include: (1) protecting livestock from attacks, (2) preventing the retaliatory killing of lions and other large carnivores, (3) contributing to habitat preservation, (4) demonstrating the value of shared knowledge, (5) exhibiting culturally appropriate solutions, (6) providing a regular point of community outreach, and (7) serving as a model to communities in other parts of Tanzania and East Africa.

Nature Element

Forests / Grasslands / Drylands / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Restoration / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Peace and security / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

     

Environmental Impacts

As of March 2017, more than 750 Living Walls are directly and positively impacting approximately 12,500 adults and children, keeping more than 125,000 head of livestock safe nightly from lion, leopard, hyena and occasional cheetah and wild dog attacks. These Living Walls are installed in 24 communities whose combined village lands comprise a geographic area greater than 12,000 km2. To date, there have been no retaliatory killings of lions at a Living Wall, and livestock depredation rates at corrals have plummeted in areas where a significant number of Living Walls are installed. Evidence shows that lions re-establish territories where Living Walls are installed in high densities.To date, more than 150,000 living Commiphora trees have been planted as fence posts in support of Living Walls, contributing to habitat regeneration in landscapes where traditional means of boma (i.e. corral) fortification via the cutting of thorn trees every few months has denuded the landscape.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Living Walls provide nearly 100% nighttime security for cattle, goats, and sheep which are important economic and cultural assets of the people of northern Tanzania. Used for their hides, milk, blood, meat, and sales, the protection of local livestock contributes to food security and the protection of local livelihoods. By planting more than 150,000 trees as fence posts, local community members also take climate action by restoring local habitats that were previously denuded for boma (i.e. corral) fortification. Once a Living Wall is in place, no further cutting of trees in the vicinity of the corrals is necessary. Furthermore, no trees are killed in the process of harvesting limbs for Living Wall construction. Community members have indicated additional benefits of Living Walls to include enhancing the security of their herds from theft and a reduction in time spent protecting their herds at night. Hence, people finally sleep soundly at night.

Scalability

Living Walls are included in national carnivore conservation tool kits for Tanzania and could be expanded on a national scale. By implementing Living Walls in five programmatic areas of northern Tanzania, we have scaled up and tested this innovation among multiple communities and diverse ecological settings. Widespread success and interest in Living Walls, both within our program areas and among stakeholders at relevant regional and national meetings, suggests that Living Walls are a highly agreeable, relevant, sustainable, and sought after tool for livestock-carnivore conflict prevention.

Replicability

Since originally developing the Living Wall concept with Maasai individuals in 2008, we have consistently scaled up this program across northern Tanzania. Through these efforts, we have come across multiple indigenous tree species that are viable as fence posts, further supporting our conviction that Living Walls can be replicated in many parts of the country and beyond. For example, Commiphora africana, one of the predominant species used, is widespread across eastern and southern Africa. We have shared Living Wall technology via tool kits produced by USAID and other constituencies, and they are currently being trialed in Kenya and Namibia. Colleagues in Zimbabwe are also looking for support to trial Living Walls. We have learned from stakeholder feedback that wherever possible, onsite training should be conducted to help local teams learn the ins and outs of planting the trees and installing the chain link fencing with community members.

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