Africa > Southern Africa > Botswana > Conservationists betting on bees to ease clash of humans and elephants

Botswana: Conservationists betting on bees to ease clash of humans and elephants


A community near the famed Serengeti national park in Tanzania is enlisting the help of bees to reduce escalating tensions with elephants that enrage locals by trampling upon their crops.

A fence made of beehives is being constructed around a one-acre farm close to the Ngorongoro conservation area as part of the pilot project to see if the buzzing bees will deter elephants that stroll on to cropland.

It’s hoped that the “bee fence” concept, which has by presently been deployed in Kenya and Botswana, will help reduce conflict in northern Tanzania, which has become a hotspot for clashes between humans and elephants.

As habitat is converted into farmland by people, elephants are increasingly wandering on to farmed land, either to munch on crops or simply because their traditional migratory routes passed through the area. People who attempt to scare elephants off with firecrackers or gunshots into the air can provoke an aggressive reaction from startled elephants, leading to deaths on both sides.

Conservationists have searched for non-violent remedies to such conflicts, which as well exist in India and Sri Lanka, such as planting chilis near crops or using drones to scare elephants away.

The bee fence could be the majority promising idea of all, however, with a coalition of groups looking to roll out the concept in the tourist haven of northern Tanzania, which includes the Serengeti, site of the famous 1.5m-strong wildebeest annual migration, and the spectacular Ngorongoro crater, which teems with wildlife inclunding the “large five” – lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo.

A farm near these neighboring World Heritage sites will be surrounded by a wire strung between tall wooden polls. Beehives will be hung on the wires, with the bees alerted to the presence of elephants at the same time as the wires are disturbed.

The idea was conceived by zoologist Dr Lucy King, who was brought up in east Africa, with the Tanzanian pilot funded via a $6,000 grant from the Ian Somerhalder Foundation.

“Once the bees vocalize, the elephants will be alerted and run away,” said Dr Hayley Adams, a US veterinarian who is working on the project.

“Elephants are highly cognitive so if they have been stung before, you’ll see an extreme reaction to the sound of bees. It’s a cliche but elephants have good memories. Some of the younger elephants don’t realize and get stung on their ears, which are very sensitive, so they remember to not go near there again.”

Adams said the year-long trial, if successful, could be expanded across the region and prove beneficial to the local community by reducing altercations with elephants while supplying people with honey for consumption or sale.

“This is far better than firing in the air or using sticks to hit elephants, which just makes them aggressive,” she said. “We need an holistic approach that benefits both people and elephants.”

Adams’ non-profit group the Silent Heroes, which supports wildlife conservation in 13 nations, will as well be involved in the launch of Tanzania’s initial elephant orphanage, which is set to open in January. The Ivory Orphans Project, located near the Tanzanian town of Arusha, will be able to care for up to 40 young elephants slaughtered by the worsening poaching crisis in Africa.

Around 30,000 African elephants are slaughtered each year by poachers for their ivory. In Tanzania, elephants are being lost at a rate of around 60 a day, although the government insists it is presently on top of the problem.

“There are a lot of gaps in the system in looking next orphaned elephants,” Adams said. “I’ve seen a lot of orphans suffer a lot of behavioral issues, there are a lot of parallels with veterans suffering post traumatic stress disorder. We need to step up the care, not just medically but socially and emotionally as well.”

Related Articles
  • ‘Betting on Africa to Feed the World’

    2017/10/17 The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, will deliver the Norman Borlaug Lecture on Monday 16 October as part of the World Food Prize events taking place from October 16 to 20, 2017 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. The Norman Borlaug Lecture under the title: “Betting on Africa to Feed the World”, will be held on World Food Day, October 16, in conjunction with the annual World Food Prize celebration.
  • World Teacher’s day: Gov’t urged to improve teachers’ productivity

    2017/10/16 Cameroonian teachers nationwide have exhorted the Cameroonian government to empower teachers with the requisite tools to be able to deliver their best in the present fast-paced world. While commemorating the 23rd edition of world teacher’s day today, the teachers noted that the theme for this year’s celebration, “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers,” reaffirms that peace and security are needed for the development of any country.
  • Africa's Economic Future Depends on Its Farms

    2017/10/16 At the same time as the economies of Nigeria and South Africa recently rebounded, it wasn't oil or minerals that did the trick. It was agriculture. Faster and additional sustainable agricultural increase is crucial not only to the continent's economy, but as well to its ability to feed and employ its surging people. Agriculture still accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product and as much as two-thirds of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, agricultural increase has the biggest impact on non-farm gain and reducing poverty.
  • Uber and African’s economic transformation

    2017/10/16 WHEN Uber was initial established in 2009, its mission was to help people everywhere get a ride, safely, quickly and at the push of a button. Eight years later, that mission remains the same and Uber’s innovative, technology-driven business model is still fundamentally changing the way people think about conference their transport needs. For the completed four years, Uber has been delivering this same level of transformation across sub-Saharan Africa, SSA, and with additional than 1.8 million active riders using the app, Uber certainly has reason to celebrate its fourth anniversary on the continent this September. Uber And it’s not just Uber that has benefited from the stellar uptake of its convenient offering in Africa.
  • Africa Convergence: Towards Africa's economic growth

    2017/10/05 To surpass the current physical and mental borders which are hindering the development of the African continent, conference the digital challenge to achieve an Integrated and sustainable economy for increase. This was the issue on the schedule of the second Africa Convergence Conference was attended by about 30 speakers from all sectors of activity and about 300 CEOs for an unprecedented dialogue on the next of the continent. As well on the table for discussion was : regional integration, financing, unearthing talents and emerging issues related to the harmonization of economies.