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Bees versus elephants

KENYA: Farmers fix a roof onto a beehive fence which has been implemented to keep elephants out of their crops. Elephants fear bees. A UNIVERSITY of Newcastle PhD student is working on a project to solve a problem plaguing farmers in Kenya and it involves elephants and bees.
Nanjing Night Net

Kylie Butler is working with Dr Lucy King, head of the award-winning human-elephant co-existence program, Elephants and Bees, in Kenya to dealwith the problem of wild elephants dashing fromthe jungle to raid the gardens and crops of local villagers.

“As you might imagine the villagers object strongly to these night raids on their crops and livelihoods and retaliate with bullets, rocks and firecrackers to scare the elephants off,” her colleague at the Faculty of Science and ITProfessor Tim Roberts said.

Death and injury to both humans and elephants often results.

“Along came Lucy King with a simply brilliant solution that could both keep the village farms safe and also protect the elephants from harm,” Dr Roberts said.

“She devised a bee-fence. And it worked.”

Elephants avoid bees at all costs and if they hear bees buzzing then they take off to avoid the sting of this tiny creature. But not only that, the elephants then go back to their herd and tell the other elephants to steer clear of the bees.

Bee-fencing involves building single-wire fencing around the area of farmland to be protected and suspending beehives on the wire at intervals along the fence. When an elephant knocks the wire the hives swing and the disturbed bees fly out. The buzzing is sufficient to make the elephants leave.

Further value is added by the pollination services, honey and beeswax that the bees provide. Following the success of the program in Africa Ms Butler is establishing a beehive fence study site in Sri Lanka to scientifically evaluate the potential of using Asian honeybees as an Asian elephant crop-raiding deterrent.The Elephants and Bees project has also been adopted in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.The project is part of Save the Elephants, a charity with afocus on research, education, grass-roots conservation, monitoring and protection.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.