Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The year started with Chris breaking his ankle while asking Oryx to lie down, Jake and Marthe leaving him to cope with the farm with the help of the students while they visited Botswana and South Africa to investigate the possibility of interest in an international academy to teach the science of animal handling and teaching. We had written the first draft of a text book to be critically assessed by those handling elephants. While in Maun, Jake took part in a fun ridden cross country event, galloping through the water-lily strewn Okavongo river, and jumping over tables laid for smart safari dinners. He was lent a delightful pony, and won! There was some interest in the academy in Botswana, and we ran a workshop for people with horses which was fun, re-established our previous contacts , gave some riding lessons. Although Botswana is a quite delightful country, and would be very suitable for the academy, strong interest was at that time lacking.
A trip to the Cape in South Africa established closer links with the Knysna Elephant Paark, and there is a very real possibility that we may be able to cooperate with them in it’s establishment, something that is particularly relevant at present in South Africa with much opposition to captive animals on the grounds of causing cruelty. We visited KEP new nature reserve & farm right next to the sea where around 15 problem elephants are presently living.
Chris’s leg was bad all summer, and scuppered any ideas of long distance competitive rides, but he managed to keep driving the tractor until it went into deep decline from July to September when the summer hols were over, and the French mechanics start work again! This meant we lost the autumn cultivations which has in some ways put the farm back a year, but now the tractor is back and working at last.
The spring was slightly late, but the vegetables, (other than potatoes and onions) have done well, with several 100kg of carrots for the winter. ( visions of endless carrot soups and cakes!). A total of 56 varieties of fruit and vegetables have been grown and harvested during the year which can’t be bad, and we have a large range of jams, jellies, chutneys and other preserves for sale and consumption. Many of the fruit trees produced for the first time this year, with particularly delicious apricots, and peche de vigne.
The improved grass and lucerne is gradually coming, we still need to feed the soil more and pick the patches for improvement carefully, but we managed to make about 1/3rd of our needed hay this year. 2010 was planned to be the first year to plant and harvest wheat and oats for human consumption but with sick tractors, we have only managed a small area of naked oats. However we are feeling more confident that we will be able to complete the tenets of ecological agriculture in the next few years by becoming completely self-sustaining in human and animal fodder.
We sold some of the cattle which we considered were not up to standard, and intend in the next while to bring some really good South Devon heifers over and return to a pedigree herd of South Devons. Some of the sheep have gone walk about in the mountains, and again we intend to bring over a Suffolk ram when we have all the paper work and get a few high quality wool and meat sheep.
It was a very pleasant if hot summer, with a stream of wwoofers from all over the world, and 2 horse students, Jorinda from Holland and Delphine from Switzerland. They have recently completed their exams and gone on to other things, having we hope, learnt much from the Druimghigha horses. Jake has been helping on the farm, redoing the rooms, even putting in water borne WC’s, constructing buildings and fences, and had his first spring and autumn of Horse Riding Holidays, and articles in various newspapers. All seem to have been appreciative of the horses, the rides, the lessons, and the cooking of food from the farm, let us hope it now grows, do tell your friends and look at his website Horseridingfrance.com.
Primarily, this has been the year of the puppies. Kaz and Bear had a litter, of which 2 were saved in February and have grown up to be half spaniels, half kelpie/collies/Alsatians. The interesting thing is that they can use both their noses and their sight when working. Kongo is to be given to Sam ( he had a false trip to Calais, and was not allowed across the channel in July, resulting in Marthe traveling to Calais and back with him in one day on the TGV, hopefully he will make it to Suffolk in January). He is to be a retriever, working in wetlands, and woods. Aged 7 months he is very enthusiastic, and has learnt basic retrieving skills. Kananga stays with Jake and is supposed to become a truffle hunting dog, he retrieves some truffle paste at the moment, but there is further to go. They have been a delightful enthusiastic, bright, playful, demanding, lunatic pair as only puppies can be.
On the horse front, no foals this year, but Lantana (2) is now being driven and ridden over short distances, and so far has been a very willing, and easy pupil. Shindy and Lilka did a 20km ride, the only one we managed to fit in, and came first and second, even though Jake and Marthe managed to stop and stuff themselves with ripe peaches in one of the orchards that we passed! Shemal is pregnant to Oryx again, and their son Shimoni (4) has done some fitness training and is ready now to take the world by storm. Shemal and Obi are now doing all the movements of Grand Prix (except 1 x changes which Obi does while throwing his head about, and Shemal has not tried yet), and the indoor manege has proved a great asset with daily teaching right through the winter, although it was good to get out into the bigger outdoor manege in the summer.
So the farm is gradually beginning to achieve what we hoped it would. It is now a registered Organic Holding, and things are indeed growing. Financially, we are just covering running costs (with the help of subsidies), but still have some capital investments to make, particularly another lean to barn for the cattle and sheep, and an observation room for the wildlife on the cliffs, particularly the Chamois.
A very happy Christmas to all our family associates, friends, and well wishers and do come and visit and see for yourselves how things are going.
All at La Combe. 2 and 4 legged.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Le Centre de Recherche et d'Education Eco-Ethologique (Eco/Etho Research & Education Centre) at La Combe, is an extension of the Eco Farm
It moved to in December 2003 to set up and run an experimental/demonstration Ecological Farm and Nature Reserve in the mountains of the pre-Alps in the Drôme région. This is the fifth experimental/demonstration ecological farm that the research team have developed.
In 2005, an Association of supporters of the Centre was created. We are now relaunching the Association. If interested please fill in the Membership Leaflet Application Form and return it to us at the Center.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Courses in 2009 - 2010
Courses in 2009 - 2010
If you are interested in any of these courses, either at the Center (in which case you need to make up your own group of at least 3) or at your home location, then contact us via email
The subjects are :
* First Level of Equine Behaviour, Welfare and Cognition
* 2nd Level (for those having attented previous courses & professionals) : Equine Teaching & consciousness, Fitting horses into agriculture, how to drive and work on the land, in the garden & forestry. Harness, implements, vehicles.
For public relations personnel, businesses & people working with difficult children. Learning about getting on with others from studying animals, their social relationships and yours with them. Practical work with horses, dogs, cattle & sheep. Tutors: Kaz, Oberlix, Ocean & Orange.
We have associations with universities in UK, USA, Germany & France. We take & supervise undergraduate and graduate students for university projects, masters and doctorates in ecology & ethology, and join own projects. We are WWOOF host farm where members come and work & learn about Organic Agriculture. All courses are in French and English. Prices
Open Tuesday afternoon each week. Guided farm walk & nature trail. 15:30 - 18:00 by arrangement, telephone in advance, groups more than 5. Meet the animals, see the flowers & identify the wild plants and animals. Suggested contributions 10€ adults, supervised children less than 10yrs free.
Long ride around the Vercors with Druimghigha horses, or bring your own.
1st week of November
Examination for Certificate in Ecological Agriculture.
We can organise additional workshops & courses on:
- Equine behaviour, management, teaching and welfare.
- Wildlife of la Combe.
By arrangement. Please contact by email or telephone evenings 00 33 (0)475532027
Saturday afternoons throughout the year lessons with horses, ground work & riding, randonees, dance, camps etc... for regular adults & children. If interested contact us.
Courses in Japan
B.Sc ( zoology). D.Phil (ethology). M.Phil (philosophy of mind), British Horse Society AI (1971), II (1978, not jumping) spend her childhood in Kenya on farms, went to University in Scotland and then returned to Eash Africa to Makerere College, Kampala, Uganda and was one of the first researchers studying the behaviour of a large mammal in the field in Africa as a Goldsmith Scholar.
She then returned to the
In 1973 she established her first experimental ecological farm and stud while continuing detailed research on the behaviour of cattle and horses. After 10 years, she moved to
Detailed academic curriculum vitae
B.Sc. (engineering). Registered Farrier, FRC. Born in
Non resident associates include: Dr. H.Randle, Senior Lecturer Ducky College,
We run workshops by invitation in many countries. If interested please contact us via email or phone 00 33 (0)475 53 20 27. We also take people for holidays and to learn about the local ecology, as well as horse and cattle behaviour.
To obtain the maximum from these courses/holidays it is best to stay at the centre.
We have accomodation for many pockets:
1) Chambre d'hôte en suite Two such rooms are available
2) Gites: Gite 1 - Two bedrooms, can sleep up to 6.
3) Lodge: (one bedroom, verhandah, small kitchen & shower) up to 2 people:.
4) Chambre d'hôte (not en suite)
5) Attic dormitory (sleeps up to 3):.
6) Hunters Hut
7) Bush Camp:
8) Wild Camping
Course & Lessons
- In ecology (local fauna and flora)
- In the ethology of mammals,in theory & practise
- working with & learning about cattle & their behaviour
- Working with equines,on the ground, ridden,working, driving etc
- Handling & teaching mammals, including, dogs, cattle, sheep, equines.
€70 private/hr, €45/hr group 2 - 5 persons, (with your animals or ours).
Rides out : only after a lesson €40/ person/2 hrs (2 and more).
Pilgrimage to the natural world with horses: with instruction on horses behaviour, other animals we meet, and the ecology of this beautiful area.
- Half a day with picnic: €100 (2- 4 people)
- All day: €200/person, if more than 4 then €100/person.
Taoïsm with horses and cattle: all day expedition, learning about observing, and being ìn the world €150/pers min 2
Horse accomodation: we have yards, stables and fields, an outdoor manege with music player, 40 x 20m, an indoor manege 20 x 20m, possibilities for endurance training & advise & accompaniment on local rides , self catering bunk accommodation adjacent to the horses, a resident farrier, cooperative animal educators & trainers up to Grand Prix dressage & international endurance.
DIY: in stable or yard & out during day bring own food. Hay & straw provided: €8/night/horse, €50/week.
Overnight Randonneurs: including hay & food €10/night . Dormitory accomodation & kitchen: €20/person/night.
Horses for schooling: €200/week plus board
Full livery €150/week.
6 day course, 7 nights : 5 lessons on subjects as above, (or rides out),
Dr Marthe KILEY-WORTHINGTON runs a consultancy in behaviour welfare & designing environments for mammals including: pets, horses, animals in zoos, wildlife parks & circuses.
The Centre runs clinics, workshops and a consultancy to help people with behavioural problems of their companion animals, horses, farm or wild animals.
We give advise on how, (given the particular facilities,) an improve quality of life and welfare of domestic and captive animals can be achieved. We work for governments, private individuals, zoos, circuses, national parks, nature reserves, farmers and NGO’s all over the world and published widely (c.v’s & list publications).
The principle advisor is Dr. M.Kiley-Worthington (B.Sc.D.Phil. M.Phil. BHSAI, Fellow Girton College Cambridge) who has spent her professional life researching the behavioural problems & welfare of mammals, and is one a well known and experienced Animal Behaviour Consultant world, wide with over 30 years experience. In the case of a particular behavioural problem, it is first established that the problem is not due to a physical disease by,if necessary, calling in a veterinary surgeon. A personal consultation by visit or via telephone/email is then arranged. A written report will be submitted if requested.
A orphan African elephant learning words by imitating his handler.
Horse Behaviour in Relation to Management and Training (1983)
Reprinted 1999, translated into German, Italian, French and Dutch (in process), (available from the publisher & author, paper back £10.90). This was the first book on horse behaviour written by a scientist who had studied the behaviour of horses, and outlines the fundamentals of their physiology, perception, social organization, communication, breeding etc.
It also covers how learning works and discusses whether current horse management maximizes their welfare. It has been perhaps the most influential book in the recent change of attitudes concerning horses management and training.
Equine Welfare (1998)
J.A.Allen, (available from the author £10.00 hard back). This book is the first book about a single species which examines all the current arguments concerning animal welfare science, and applies them to whether what we do with our horses and how we keep them complies with maximizing their welfare. It includes a review of whether we should or should not compete in the many ways we do with equines, (combine training, jumping, racing, endurance etc) and covers what are the major welfare questions surrounding less well known subjects such as working donkeys (the most numerous working animal to day), zebras, working horses on the farm and travelling with them.
It examines all the arguments thoroughly from both sides, and concludes that we can do all these things with equines and still provide a life of quality for them, but some things need to change if we are seriously interested in their welfare.
Equine Education (2003)
Whittet books, (available from the publisher hardback £17.50). This book shows how what we know about the being of a horse (covered in Horse Watch) should be put into practice when teaching equines. It covers needs of the horse and how to keep them so these are fulfilled, learning theory, handling young and old, first riding, more advanced riding, jumping, long distance, travelling and living with equines and many more subjects. It is full of simple useful and effective tested methods and ideas.
Horse Watch (2005)What is it to be a Horse, J. A. Allen large hardback with colour illustrations, (available from publisher @ £25, from author @ £21). This is perhaps the most important book about a single species and how they experience the world that has so far been published. In simple language understandable by any horse lover who can read, it reviews all the current ideas from many disciplines including cognitive science about how we can begin to know what the mental abilities of equines really are, and where they are similar or different from humans so we can begin to understand each individuals point of view. It give a host of examples and much new empirical results of the authors and others recent research. Although this is a controversial subject, the author, uniquely among writers to date, is not only a scientist and scholar, but is a professional instructor, breeder and international competitor. As a result, this book combines all information from scholars as well as from knowledge about horses from those who have daily experiences with them professionally. The message is that there are ways in which we can learn to better understand these animals, but we must be seriously aware of faulty preconceptions.
If you would like to purchase any of these books please email email@example.com
The Centre runs a advisory service for those requiring help setting up or changing their farming system to self-sustaining Ecological Agriculture, a self-sustaining, diversified agriculture that increases net production, is economically viable, where animal welfare, aesthetic considerations and the integration of wildlife with food production are of great importance, and which causes no long term irreversible environmental changes.
The centre works for governments, UN, European Union, NGO’s, national parks, private nature reserves, both large and small farm proprietors, peasants, and horticulture holdings in many parts of the world in many countries (e.g. France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Asabijan, USA, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, Morocco, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Leswoto, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Japan, Zambia, Malawi, India), with farms ( animal & crops), nature reserves, forestry, horticultural enterprises, alternative energy production, draught animals, landscape design, building from local materials.
The director and chief advisor Dr. M.Kiley-Worthington has 30 years of theoretical and practical experience as an agricultural advisor. C.C. Rendle expertises are:- engineering, farriery, appropriate farm implement design and making, animal management & teaching, building ). (c.v’s & list of publications).
For further details email with the details of your project.
A gentian in flower at La Combe
For general and up to date information about the horses of the Druimghigha stud, their performance and career, read the Druimghigha Blog, created and maintained by Vicky Clink, owner of Druimghigha Shanti
Druimghigha Shemal Winner of the Arab Marathon, 2000, Man versus Horse 2002 & 2003, 80km Red Dragon, Wales 2003. Short listed for the junior International Endurance Team, 2003. She knows over 250 words, and has learnt some human concepts. She was
Druimghigha Shemal Winner of the Arab Marathon, 2000, Man versus Horse 2002 & 2003, 80km Red Dragon, Wales 2003. Short listed for the junior International Endurance Team, 2003. She knows over 250 words, and has learnt some human concepts. She was
In 1972 when I was a fellow of the
The husbandry developed for the Druimghigha horses is the result of years of study of empirical observation and experimentation. For example, their physical needs are fulfilled by feeding them high fiber diets which they have access to at all times, and home produced grains when they are working more than one hour/day every day. Their need for constant movement and exercise is catered for by keeping them outside in large paddocks, and also working them frequently. Their social needs are catered for by the horses being in groups of different sexes and ages, often with a stallion so that mares have natural sex when they wish (contraceptives are used to prevent unwanted pregnancies). Their emotional needs are catered for by allowing friendships and sex , no artificially weaning of foals (unless their mother is at risk from continuing to lactate). We found that the establishment of behaviours indicative of trauma and distress was often linked to artificial weaning.
Their cognitive needs are catered for by the horses acquiring ecological knowledge since all the horses run out all year around in large paddocks with other species (cattle and sheep) with varied topography (rivers, mountains, woodland, ditches, cliffs etc). They have to make their own decisions to find natural shelter or shelter in buildings (provided in winter). The life of equines as well as humans can be enriched by mutual contact so the youngsters are handled and begin to learn to learn from humans and about them and their ways from when they are a few months old. We are particularly interested in the degree to which equines can learn to comprehend human language, experimenting with this, and with their ability to acquire human concepts and investigating animal consciousness.
Our horses are not shod unless it is necessary for the work they are doing, (when taking part in competitions over distances more than 40km). When shod, the “natural balance” shoeing technique is used, a method developed from studying the feet of feral horses.
Drugs are used only when it is in the interests of the individual’s welfare as it is maintained that constant use of drugs to keep horses well or sound indicates inappropriate husbandry. Antibiotics are rarely needed. The horses are wormed only after faecal egg counts indicate this is necessary. Soil Association approved wormers only used. The intestinal worms are controlled by multi-species rotational grazing .
All the individuals are monitored for any evidence of ill health or distress. The conception rate is significantly higher than for in hand breeding or Artificial Insemination. Ill health and diseases are rare ( e.g. Colic has occurred 3 times in 400 horse years. Despite the long, fast distances covered for international competitive long distance riding, lameness is rare. The average life expectancy for the horses retained bred or acquired young is 26 years. The Welsh mountain pony, Aderin is still active and able aged 38.
In 1983 we moved to the Isle of Mull,
In 1989 we moved to the
In 2003 I was offered a fellowship at
Their education starts when they are a few days old being handled gently and continues throughout their lives using only positive reinforcement. The animals intended to remain in the stud for their lives are taught to be able to win a race one day, and pull a plough give a beginner a riding lesson the next, win a dressage competition , then a long distance race, and deliver the vegetables in a light vehicle. They are truly versatile arabs and part breds, and have excelled in Endurance (10 international horses produced to date, 4 times winning the Arab Marathon, and all who have completed been placed within the first 5. We also take part in dressage events (up to Intermediare/Grand Prix), and demonstrations with dances, liberty and quadrilles.
Some of the well known horses include (all prefixed with Druimghigha):- Druimghigha Baksheesh, Druimghigha Shiraz and her foals: Druimghigha Shiera, Shirak, Shemal Shukrane & Shanti. Druimghigha Shereen and her foals: Sher Khan, Shergar, Shellah, Shezaam, Shindi and Socrates. Aderin and her foals: Druimghigha Achmed and Aisha Evans, Amanita, and Aroha. Chrysthannah Royal and her foals: Druimghigha Cariff, Cara, Carma and Christmas Time. Omeya and her foals: Druimghigha Omani, Osnan, Oscar, Omen, Oberlix and Oryx.
In 2002-3 we decided to see if Druimghigha Oberlix , (who is an pure Arab Horse Society Premium tested Performance Stallion), could take part in International level Endurance races and International dressage in the same summer. This he achieved, taking part and being placed in 80km races, 3rd in the
The research on equine education has involved teaching the subjects (Druimghigha Shemal ,Oberlix and Oryx) human language, measuring the speed of learning acts, learning concepts and whether or not equines have a “theory of mind”, in order to further investigate equine lore and equine consciousness. These subjects understand at least 200 words.
The research is one of the few research programmes where the subjects pay for the research. This is done by teaching, displays, multi-species theatre/ballet (Sleeping Beauty televised 1995, Chestnut Beauty 2000), workshops throughout the world (details of workshops see below). and selling young horses.The youngsters are usually sold at around three years old having had their secondary education (handled, lead, lunged, free schooled, backed, bitted, long reined, ridden out, elementary to medium dressage movements, 40km slow rides in difficult terrain, and out camping). Their fitness is assessed by heart recovery rates and heart monitors.
Oberlix and daughter Druimghigha Shemal being ridden cooperatively: NO TACK.
No equipment other than a simple snaffle, bitless bridle or head collar, saddle, numnah and breast plate is never used during their education or in competition unless it is obligatory (no drop nosebands of any type, martingales, running reins, curbs, long hackamores etc). The horses are cooperatively educated, not frightened or forced. If there is a problem, the education must be reassessed. They can be worked at liberty, ridden. They will go over every type of terrain that we can find ( water, sea, bogs, steep hills, rocks, rough areas, forests, steep banks, in snow, mud, rain, dry or dusty). They can be left tied up for several hours, kept in electric coralls, go camping with their riders or attend competitions with strange horses. As part of the sale, there is a free follow up service to help the new owners overcome any misunderstandings. Horses are only sold to approved homes. We sell young versatile cooperatively educated 3 year olds. Contact centre if by email if interested.
3 year old chesnut, 15.2 gelding, Shukreen. Shemal X Oryx for sale 2009
Courses & Students. We take pupils and students to learn about all aspects of horse behaviour and welfare, improve their handling, working or driving skills, learn more about educating equines from beginners to advanced professional standard. We specialize in teaching the art of riding based on the European classical school, but with ideas and practices filtered from many schools of riding including Western, Indian, Australian, English with an emphasis on cooperation between horses and rider, rather than obedience of the horse, and domination or leadership by the human.
Everyone, from beginner to advanced rider, first has a lesson in our magnificent manege, and then can be taken out (on our horses or their), for rides in this spectacular mountain world, for hours, days or weeks, while learning about the local natural world, learning more about your mount and about the ecology and how to value it more (see calender & prices).
We run a 6 months or 1 year Diploma (approved by universities in UK, USA, Japan, Canada, Australia) in the science, theory and practice of Equine Welfare , Ethology , Education and Husbandry (email for further details) in French & English.The teachers are academically and practical ( BHS qualified, see personnel).The teaching is of a high standard and the diploma demanding. Many world authorities visit the Centre and contribute by giving seminars, lectures or demonstrations in their areas of expertise. The students are exposed to many different ideas and are taught to think, question and discuss all relevant issues. 1 scholarship per year is offered to particularly promising students.
We supervise undergraduate and graduate student projects and theses.
We run an internationally consultancy on behavioural problems and welfare of equines (and other species). email or phone 00 33 (0)475532027 for further details and prices.
nuzzle each other excitedly over a hedge.
WORKSHOPS on EQUINE MINDS, NEEDS, BEHAVIOUR AND EDUCATION. & HOW TO IMPROVE OUR RELATIONS WITH EQUINES.
We have to date conducted these international workshops in UK, France, Japan, Australia, USA, Switzerland, Canada, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya. In French or English, or with translator.
Organisation: Interested people & riding Centres organize workshops internationally for us. If you are interested look at calendar or contact by email for further details. At least 10 people are necessary to cover costs. ( Prices: 45 pounds, / 63E for 2 days; 40pounds day 1 only. 25pounds/35E for an individual lesson on day 2. If less than 10 people, must have minimum 350pounds/490E day 1. Of each person’s payment over 10, 40% day 1 & 10% day 2 go to organizer to pay expenses (advertising etc). Board and lodging is provided for teachers & horses free for the period required. We need a comfortable place to lecture with video player, some equines (any age/sex), and an enclosed space to work them ( out or indoors). Date will be mentioned on
Day 1. Theory & some practical experiences.
Introduction & background to the scientific/philosophical approach.
Do horses have minds? If so what are they. What mental life do they have? Current understanding of these questions by scholars in simple language. Applying “conditional anthropomorphism”, what it is and why.
What is it to be an equine? Exercises to help us understand differences and similarities between them and us in perceiving and interpreting the world.
The physical, social, emotional and cognitive needs of equines, and how to fulfill these in order to improve their welfare. Exercises in: learning to observe social behaviour , equine communication, and understanding equine emotions.
Instinct and Learning. The ways in which equines learn. Exercises in putting the theory into practice.
Demonstrations.This understanding put into practice in handling, liberty, teaching with the voice, lunging and concept learning.
Feet & shoeing. When to shoe horses and why. Balancing the hoof & shoe. Four point/natural balance shoeing & why.
Day . Putting the theory into practise.
The next day/s consists of individual lessons for those participants who would like them, (45 minutes) with their own or our equines. These can be on a range of different aspects of equine behaviour, husbandry, teaching or riding. They include handling, teaching simple movements, liberty, lunging, early & more advanced riding, (up to Grand Prix dressage) jumping, cross country, physiological and psychological fitness for endurance, driving, working equines, or how to conduct ethological studies with horses, ponies, donkeys, mules or zebras. They can also be consultancies on behavioural problems (e.g. loading, aggression, “vices”, bolting, management problems etc). Maximum 6 lessons/ day. There is discussion at the end of each lesson. We have 1hr lunches together (sandwiches or buffet) to facilitate discussion and a social meal in the evenings ( café/pub etc).
Text books: Horse Behaviour, Equine Welfare, Equine Education & Horse Watch. >> See Books & Articles
For the last 35 years, we have been researching, how in practise on farms and in theory, to help, rural women in Africa have a life of quality but increase or retain their political independence , and ,at the same time , how to integrate, wildlife conservation, with food production.
The result has been the development of Ecological Agriculture, agriculture based on an understanding of how natural ecosystems work applied to farms. It’s definition is:-
“A self sustaining, diversified, high net yielding economically viable agriculture which has no irreversible environmental effects, where the whole farm is a wildlife conservation area, and where there are no unacceptable social, ethical and political consequences.” (Kiley-Worthington. Ecological Agriculture. Food First Farming. 1993)
We have developed and run 4 successful farms in
Proposed Eco Farm Demonstration, Educational & Research Centre in
Various ideas to help towards resolving this conflict have been tried. In general they have been geared towards trying to bringing the local rural people more into the consumer economy by sharing money earned from the wildlife (by tourism or hunting) with the local communities. There is a strong trans-African cultural interest among women in growing food for their families . As a result, women in many areas of the developing world , (where paid work is often scarce, available land in short supply, and no welfare payments have a growing sense of insecurity.
There is unlikely to be one solution to this conflict throughout
The Eco Research & Educational Centre has been working on local practical solutions to this conflict by developing and running self-sustaining small farms which, because they require little capital and are economically viable, can help increase the rural womens’ options. For the last 30 years we have been acquiring appropriate techniques, integrating modern scientific knowledge with local community knowledge and skills (further information in Ecological Agriculture, Food First Farming 1993, Souvenir Press, London), and teaching others from all over the world to do this (150 to date). Such farms can on a small scale produce more for less than modern conventional agricultural production, and re-empower women to provide food for their families. A diploma course has been run at the Eco Research Centre for the last 15 years, to which scholarships have been given to people from all over the world including
One of the major emphases has been to integrate domestic animals into farms without causing them to suffer. We have conducted experiments with different management systems and developed highly profitable non-intensive, self-sustaining small scale animal husbandry systems for domestic animals where they have lives of quality (Kiley-Worthington & Randle 1999).
One of the major problems areas at present are areas of small farms that abut national parks or nature reserves. The large mammals often escape and cause havoc to the local farmers and their crops, reinforcing the local populations desire to be rid of them and have the land. These animals can be contained, and, also, some of them can be handled and taught to do useful work efficiently and safely for the local community on their farms or transport heavy materials. In this way they contribute to the local poor rural communities with energy ( e.g. elephant, zebra, buffalo) and also by providing other products which do not threaten their lives, such as milk (e.g.eland and cape buffalo) and fibres. The local people then have experiences with these animals which are of great help to them ( an elephant can pull a two furrow plough and plough around 1h a day, compared to a bullock 0.25h/day). The people then begin to value them for their work, and finally, for themselves (that is their intrinsic value). They appreciate them as living emotional beings and part of their traditional invaluable cultural heritage. So, these traditionally wild animals become ambassadors for wild life, and not just something to attract tourists from whom the small farmer rarely benefits.
Aims of the Eco Research & Education Centre in
Semi-domesticating and training African elephants, eland and buffalo has been done before, but the centres commitment for the last 10 years has been to develop this and the science of animal educational psychology to ensure that both the animals and humans working with them, are safe and have a live of quality ( see list publications). The co-operative training method involves uses non violent methods. Large African mammals have been taught to help on farms (ploughing, harvesting) with road and dam building, forestry, for transport and leisure. These include African elephants, Cape buffalo, zebra & eland, (Kiley-Worthington 1997). It has been extremely successful (video available). Now it is necessary to set up a demonstration integrated ecological farm and nature reserve to:-
(1)help the rural people towards self-sustainable food security,
(2) demonstrate how this can be integrated with wildlife conservation,
(3) Interest the local community in their natural heritage living with large wild animals by teaching some of them to do useful things for the people.
The ecological farm will provide food and fodder for the resident humans and animals, building materials and furniture (for accommodation for people and animals, lecture rooms and laboratories). Local traditional building styles will be the basis for the design. The farm will provide its own energy from renewable resources using simple available cheap technology (wood, wind, sun, water if available, and animal and human power). Its own water ( rain water collection and storage, irrigation, recyling water systems) and waste disposal (recycling organic and other wastes, e.g. compost, and making simple objects from recycling plastic).
It will grow staple food crops such as wheat and maize, and vegetables, dairy, eggs and some meat. It will develop small cottage industries reliant on the raw materials from the farm. These will include wood workers ( e.g. wood carving, turning, making furniture from the farms self-sustaining woodland), spinning and weaving from the wool and fibre from the farms animals, basket making from appropriate bush and the farms sisal ( if appropriate), diary products from the farms milk ( e.g. cheeses, yogurts, cream, butter), and pottery if clay is available. The medicinal use of indigenous plants will be studied, collected and processed. The first objective is to supply the residents on the farm, if there is excess the products will be sold locally.
The ecological farm and wildlife area will be an educational centre. The courses offered will be principally for local people, but attendants from the developed world will be welcomed and charged to finance local participants. We will continue teaching the 6 month certificated, and one year diploma courses in the theory and practise of ecological agriculture, already internationally renowned. and running for 15 years. Courses will be run on the behaviour, ecology and husbandry of wild animals, ecology, conservation, environmental philosophy. With certificated qualifications for large animal handlers which concentrate on ensuring human safety, cooperative teaching and a high quality of life for the anim als (developed for elephants in
Research of all levels will continue in ecological agriculture, ecology, animal welfare, large mammal cognition, equine minds, environmental philosophy and animal educational psychological. International researchers will be encouraged and the centres research staff will continue to produce publications. The centre will be to accommodation, supervision and research facilities. In exchange, they will be asked to contribute to the centre ( e.g. help with teaching,or researching ecological problems that arise at the centre or in the locality).
A particularly attractive unique aspect will be the experience of living with the animals, and learning more about them instead of just seeing them at a distance. All the people will live together at the centre, in order to foster international understanding and cooperation. Over a period of time, local people will be trained to administer and run the centre.
Situation. The area for the establishment of this centre is under discussion. It is essential that the project fits with government aims and has government cooperation and it must be enthusiastically welcomed by the local people. We are therefore sending this proposal out to individuals and governments whom we consider might be interested.
Personnel & Experience. ( see cv’s and list of publications.) The personnel centrally involved have individual expertise which together ensures that there is both theoretical and practical experience of setting up, running and teaching:-
(1) Self-sustaining ecological farms, building using local materials, developing renewable energy sources,
(2) Animal educational psychology, improved handling & training of wild and domestic animals,
(3) Wildlife conservation & research. In many countries in
There will also be undergraduate and post-graduate students involved.
Finance & Budgets. Finance, energy and expertise is available for developing the centre from scratch once the land is available, although more finance will increase the speed of development. The project is in memory of one of the founders of IUCN and of Human Ecology (Dr. E.B.Worthington) & Stella Johnson, Kenyan dairy farmer. The project must be backed by both central and local government approval and have the donation of land, (or some leasing arrangement) before it can go ahead.
Further finance as the project progresses will be necessary, in particular to reintroduce some of the traditionally wild animals and establish small breeding herds. There is considerable interest in this proposal from organisations and individuals internationally, including the media, consequently there should be good media coverage. The idea is to match the existing finance by funds raised.
This project is, in part, a model for how poorer rural people who have some land could farm and integrate wildlife conservation . It will develop at the appropriate rate for the local community using local resources, although, initially, there will be a need for some financial inputs for the development of the educational and research programme. It will apply for charitable status once the site has been selected.
Eco Research & Education Centre Copy right ISSN 1367-2045
Un éléphanteau orphelin apprend à monter dans un camion.