Elephants' fear of bees proves a green winner

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A British scientist has won a coveted environment research prize for showing how bees can be used to reduce conflict between people and elephants.

Lucy King's work proved that beehive 'fences' can keep elephants out of African farmers fields' or compounds. Dr King received the Unep /CMS Thesis prize at the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) meeting in Norway.

Working in Kenya, she and her team showed that more than 90% of elephants will flee when they hear the sounds of buzzing bees. Subsequently, they also found that elephants produce a special rumble to warn their fellows of the danger. They used the findings to construct barriers where beehives are woven into a fence, keeping the elephants away from places where people live and grow food. A two year pilot project involving 34 farms showed that elephants trying to go through the fences would shake them, disturbing the bees. Later the fences were adopted by farming communities in 3 Kenyan districts - who also made increasing amounts of money from selling honey.

"Dr Lucy King has desined a constructive solution that considers the needs of migratory animals but also the economic benefits to the local communities linked to species conservation," said CMS Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema.

As Africa's population grows, competition for space between people and elephants is becoming more serious, and there are fatalities on both sides. 

Extract from article by Richard Black, Environment Correspondent, BBC News 23rd November 2011 - for full article click here


UCF has been assisting communities in trialling the use of bees as a deterrent measure for elephants on the border with the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area for several months. A number of local people were trained in bee keeping and helped with equipment by UCF in order to test whether the beehives would act as a deterrent to elephants and also as a means to generate more income for the community. The beehives were successfully populated by local bees and we hope to report on the results of the trial in due course.

If you would like to help increase the use of beehives in this way please donate towards our work by clicking the 'Virgin Money Giving donation button'.

News snippets

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News snippets: Lonely Planet chooses Uganda as top country tourist attraction for 2012; Rothschild's Giraffe - an endangered species; Early Ape skull found in Karamoja region, Uganda

Lonely Planet chooses Uganda as top country tourist attraction for 2012

Lonely Planet's new book 'Best in Travel 2012' has named Uganda as the top country tourist attraction for 2012. Quite an accolade from the largest travel guide book publisher in the world!

Why not come and see for yourself what makes Uganda - its people, scenery and wildlife - so special to us, and so worth helping?

(Metro, 28.10.2011)

Rothschild's Giraffe - an endangered species

The Rothchild's Giraffe has IUCN  Endangered Species status and it is estimated that only 670 individuals remain in the wild. The only key populations remaining in the natural range are in Uganda's Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley National Parks with other groups found in Kenya's national parks and nature reserves outside their natural range. Populations in Uganda have dropped from an estimated 2500 in the 1960s to fewer than 250. The loss of suitable habitat through farming development is blamed for much of the decline.

(Extract from Africa Geographic, October 2011)

It is hoped that the expansion of UCF's work into the Murchison Falls National Park will improve security in the area and help the growth in numbers.

Early Ape

A 20 million-year-old ape skull found in the remote north-eastern Karamoja region of Uganda could shed light on East Africa's evolutionary history. 'This is the first time that the complete skull of an ape of this age has been found' said Martin Pickford, a palaeontologist at the College de France in Paris. 'It is a highly important fossil and will put Uganda on the map in terms of the scientific world'.

(Extract from Discovery News, Africa Geographic October 2011)

Uganda Matters Newsletter

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Hot off the press! Uganda Matters newsletter is free to download - (click on the Uganda Matters hippo image to the right)

The latest edition of Uganda Matters is out! Written, produced and printed in Uganda we are delighted to share updates and photos from our live projects showing what our limited but precious resources, from our generous supporters like you are helping us to achieve for wildlife and conservation in Uganda's Protected Areas.

Thank you everyone!

London Animal Charities Fair

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Trustees Jacquie Teera (pictured)  and Carolyn de la Plain, with the help of volunteer Alison Cooper, ran a stall selling UCF merchandise,  including the BeadforLife recycled paper jewellery made by women in Uganda, at the London Animal Charities Fair in the Camden Centre on Sunday 6 November 2011 raising over £340 to help support our team in Uganda.

Well done ladies!


Who is attacking who?

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Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) is one of the biggest challenges to conservation and human settlement around Protected Areas. With peace now prevailing in Northern Uganda, after 20 years of conflict, thousands of people formally displaced by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency have returned to their ancestral villages from camps. However, hundreds of people have been forced back to the camps again as a result of elephant raids from the nearby Murchison Falls National Park.

As a fight-back, the residents have given the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) a one month ultimatum to drive the elephants back into the Park, saying failure to do so will lead them to kill the elephants. This is not a sustainable solution. It is important to understand the problem first and involve all the stakeholders concerned. Uganda has the one of the highest human population growth rate in the world which has had an implication on the wildlife. The increment in human population has resulted in encroachment of the protected areas and animal corridors to increase the area available for cultivation, resulting in conflict with the wild animals.

It is possible to live in harmony with wildlife. We at UCF focus on "mitigating Human Wildlife Conflict" - that is, stopping humans and elephants from killing each other. Simply put, if we can protect the humans, we can protect the wildlife.

From our experience in the Ishasha sector in southern Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area, there is no single solution to mitigating HWC: a number of complementary measures are needed. For example, the excavation of elephant trenchesand erection of fences create a physical barrier which makes all the difference to the survival of both the human and elephant populations. The use of bees as a deterrent measure for elephants is under trial at the border with Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area.

A trench excavated in Kikarara, Ishasha sector - south of Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area with support from UCF

A fence erected in one of the valleys in Kihihi, Ishasha sector - south of Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area with support from UCF

Based on this success, Uganda Wildlife Authority has asked UCF to roll out the same solutions across Murchison Falls Protected Area in Northern Uganda. This can be achieved with your support by making a donation to UCF.