Monday, April 2, 2012

Bee Fence: Stopping marauding elephants in Kenya using bees…with video




In recent years, a successful conservation programme has seen the number of elephants rise in Kenya.
But there is a problem – marauding gangs of elephants are increasingly raiding farmers’ crops and destroying property.
Already, some farmers have resorted to extreme measures including poisoning and shooting them.
But how do you stop elephants raiding crops without harming the environment or the elephant? The solution – to exploit a surprising fact: elephants are terrified of bees.
In 2009, experts from the University of Oxford and the charity Save the Elephants set up a trial project to test whether hives containing African honey bees could prevent elephants breaching farmland boundaries.

Monitoring elephant raids over three crop seasons, they discovered that 97 per cent of raids were aborted if the field was protected by a fence containing a beehive every 10 metres.
The beehives are suspended on wires between posts with a flat thatched roof above to protect from the sun in the traditional Kenyan style. So far, boundaries have been created for 17 farms, incorporating 170 beehives into 1.7 kilometres of fencing.
Russell Beard travels to the village of Voi located between two wildlife reserves, which often received unwelcome visits from hungry elephants.
Project leader Lucy King explains how the cunning fences were devised, and invites Russell to help build a beehive.

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