Who would have thought that our African elephants could show a scientist and her research team just how to resolve a conflict which has existed for decades between the pachyderms and humans / farmers?
By observing the elephants’ natural behavior toward African honey bees (they are instinctively afraid of them & especially fearful of stings “around their eyes of inside of their trunks”) Dr. Lucy King learned* that a relatively simple solution could be found not only to save the lives of our elephants but to protect the lives and crops of farmers in Africa.
*During one video The Daily Mail obtained from the researchers in Kenya (near the Samburu Game Reserve) a family of elephants was seen standing near a tree when suddenly, after hearing the “swarming sounds” from a hive of bees, they were sent scrambling and running away.
It happened time and again to the delight of Dr. King and the exuberant researchers and it sent their scientific minds to thinking. This is the moment that “The Elephant and Bees Project” was born.
One unique solution to the human elephant conflict, journalist Jenny Stanton of The Daily Mail reported, would come in the form of a barrier or fence using African beehives. By surrounding the farms with the hanging beehives, placed at intervals of “10 metres” / approx. 33 feet, the elephants would be reluctant to charge through to trample and consume the crops.
This reluctance would only come after the hives were sent into a swinging motion as any disturbance initiated by the elephants would cause the hives to shake and the angry bees to alight. The fearful elephants would then be sent running.
This deterrent has been effective ranging from 85% to 97% of the time. Thus the farmers’ crops are saved and the lives of our elephants are spared (pachyderms are often killed by poisoning at the hand of humans in an effort to keep the crop raiding elephants away from their land.)
As the success of “The Elephants and Bees Project” continues (it has gained worldwide attention garnering awards and praise from Dr. King’s colleagues and the communities benefitting from such a desperately needed solution to the human elephant conflict) this has become a win-win situation for both humans and pachyderms alike.
The worker bees not only provide pollination for the farmers’ crops but a new strain of “elephant-friendly honey” as well. And the profits from that honey “create a social and economic boost to poverty-stricken rural communities” It just can’t get any sweeter than that!
“Bees cannot sting through elephant hide, but they can and do sting around elephants’ eyes and inside trunks”
“The bees in Kenya (Apis mellifera scutellata) are small with short tongues and swarm frequently”
“African honey bees were crossed with European honey bees in South America and are known as “killer bees” because of their increased aggression”
Donate to the Elephants & Bees Project sponsored by Save The Elephants, University of Oxford, and the Disney Conservation Fund. Elephant conservation rocks!
See the video ” African Honey Bees Change Lives and Save Elephants “ and learn more about the Elephants and Bees Project at Save The Elephants
Buy honey when you visit Africa, in Nairobi (note the fundraiser on bottom of page)
Photo credits: Bees on Hive , Flower Bee , Elephants Under Tree , Honey , Featured Elephant Friendly Honey
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