In the past six years close to seventy Indian elephants have suffered and died after wandering onto railway tracks in areas where these pachyderms once roamed free and undisturbed from the modern encroachments of mankind. Now recognized as “elephant corridors” vulnerable elephants still instinctively follow these paths they have traveled for decades, centuries even, but the danger, to both the elephants and humans, is now very real and stirring.
Currently, thanks to a bee-autiful idea from Indian Railways (their regional operator is Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) ) our elephants in India are being saved. It’s called “Plan Bee“ and it is a take on the idea that elephants have always been afraid of bees: “the buzzing of bees and (the) stings” they leave behind.
Unlike some communities in Africa or Asia, who build fences incorporating boxes filled with actual bees that are released amongst them (when the overly curious elephants get too close to the villages or the crops the villagers are trying to protect) this endeavor projects the sound of the much-feared buzzing bees out of loud speaker boxes placed strategically along the railway tracks. The volume is such that the loud buzzing “can be heard up to half a mile (600 metres) away”.
To date, “Plan Bee” has positioned “nearly 50 buzzing amplifiers” at “a dozen ‘elephant corridors’ in the vast forests of Assam state, home to nearly 6,000 elephants, 20 percent” of India’s total elephant population.
So far their means of stopping elephants in their tracks (with the amplified buzzing sounds of the bees) from coming onto the (railway) tracks (protecting both elephants and humans) has been successful. Awards have formally been presented (to the Indian Railway team who designed, tested & implemented “Plan Bee”). Yet the deeds of their work saving elephants continue on.
Bravo, Indian Railways! Such a bee-autiful idea.
Resource: All quotations from “‘Plan Bee’ gets Indian elephants to buzz off railways” The Daily Mail
Read also: “Elephants and Bees Project” : Scientist Lets the Elephants in Africa Provide Their Own Solution to Human Elephant Conflict Leading Researchers to Construct Bee Hive Fences Around Small Farms & the Bonus is Elephant Friendly Honey !
Images: CC Flickr & CC Wikipedia Indian Railways ticket ; Indian Railways train ; Indian Railways Ramki Photography; train tracks by Smarter Within ; Indian elephant herd by Mike Prince