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.
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