Beehive fences can help mitigate human-elephant conflict

first_imgArticle published by Sue Palminteri Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Crop-raiding by elephants can devastate small farmers, leading to food insecurity, lost opportunity costs, and even death, as well as negative attitudes towards elephants, but finding effective and inexpensive solutions has proven extremely difficult.Beehive fences—surrounding crops fields with beehives attached to fence posts and strung together with wires—may serve as a humane and eco-friendly way to protect crops from elephants.Repeated farm-level trials have demonstrated benefits to farmers of using beehive fences, including fewer elephants approaching their fields and, for communities willing to manage the bees, production of “elephant-friendly” honey. However, the strategy doesn’t work everywhere: it requires management by farmers and willingness of bees to occupy at least some of the hives, and appropriate length and positioning to dissuade elephants from just walking around them.Beehive fences have benefited farmers in several East African countries, and projects elsewhere have begun to test them as well, but several uncertainties, including their success at a scale that doesn’t just displace the elephants to the first unfenced farm, suggest they should still be used with other techniques as part of a toolkit to reduce human-elephant conflict. Human-elephant conflict poses major threats to the well-being of both humans and animals. Crop-raiding by elephants across Asia and Africa can be devastating for small farmers, leading to food insecurity, lost opportunity costs, and even death. Crop-raiding and property damage can also result in negative attitudes towards elephant conservation and retaliatory killings of elephants.A camera trap photo captured after midnight of an elephant bull turning away from the beehive fence (one of the hives is on the left). Image courtesy of Southern Tanzania Elephant Program (STEP).Finding effective and inexpensive solutions has proven extremely difficult. Farmers guarding their fields at night lose sleep and put themselves in potentially close proximity to hungry elephants. Killing “problem” elephants is not only inhumane, but is also ineffective at reducing human-elephant conflict. Electric fences, while effective in theory, often fail in practice because they are costly and difficult to maintain.Bees to the rescueMore recently, conservationists have explored the use of beehive fences as a humane and eco-friendly way to protect crops from elephants. Zoologist Lucy King of the NGO Save the Elephants told Mongabay the idea came from Kenyan farmers, who noticed that elephants avoided foraging in trees that contained beehives.A beehive fence under Sagalla Mountain in Kenya. Hives are supported by posts and connected by wires, so that pressure on the wire disturbs the nearest occupied hives along the fence. Thatched roofs protect the hives from direct sunlight. The NGO Save The Elephants has experimented with various designs, including units that are not occupied hives but that contribute to the technique. A higher percentage of occupied hives gives a better chance of success in discouraging elephants from approaching further. Image by Lucy King.In the late 2000s, King and several Save the Elephants colleagues conducted a pilot study to determine if beehive fences could protect farms in Kenya. They placed locally constructed beehives on fence posts every 8 meters (about 26 feet) and connected them with wires. If an elephant tried to enter between the hives, it would knock into the wires, causing the hives to sway and disturbing the bees. In this study, the researchers found that elephant raids were reduced by almost half on a farm with a beehive fence compared to an unprotected farm.Since then, King and her colleagues have conducted two sets of field trials in Kenya. The first set of trials, published in 2011, found that beehive fences were better at protecting crops than traditional thorn bush barriers. The second set of trials, published in 2017, reported that 80 percent of elephants that approached the beehive fences were deterred from entering the farms. However, this second study did not report data from control farms – those not protected with beehive fences – so we cannot know if this represents a significant improvement.Currently, King and her colleagues at Save the Elephants are studying or implementing beehive fences for crop protection in 15 countries in Africa and four countries in Asia. The beehive fence concept has generated high levels of interest and acceptance among farmers in Africa and Asia. In Kenya, participating farms more than doubled over the course of field trials as farmers requested to join, and in Thailand, over 80 percent of cassava and sugar cane plantation owners reported that they were interested in trying beehive fences.However, comparatively few studies on beehive fences have been performed in Asia. One small study in India observed that elephants were less likely to enter agricultural areas through areas with beehive fences, although statistical evaluations were not performed.Kennedy holding jar of elephant-friendly honey produced by his community from management of the bees in the beehives. Image courtesy of Jane Wynyard / Save the Elephants.Beehive fences can provide many benefits to a community. In addition to humanely deterring elephants from entering farms, bees provide pollination services (which could increase crop yields) and honey (which farmers can sell to diversify their income). King and colleagues also found that even long-term use of beehive fences does not seem to negatively impact wild bee diversity.Problems and solutionsAlthough these trials seem to show great success overall, beehive fences have yet to be implemented at a broad scale. Wildlife veterinarian Richard Hoare, a member of the IUCN Human-Wildlife Conflict Task Force states that, “the sample sizes of farms in bee fence projects claiming success are too small to be extrapolated to general use.”Furthermore, beehive fences don’t work everywhere, and several factors can decrease their efficacy, including the design of the fences, the species of bee, and bee activity. A trial in Zimbabwe did not find any difference in crop damage between farms with beehives and those without. However, this may be because hives were hung on poles and not connected with wire. In other words, elephants could easily pass between the hives without disturbing the bees.The STEP team in southern Tanzania discussing the beehive fence including the costs and benefits of shielding hives from direct sun in the form of makuti thatch roofs. Image courtesy of STEP.Efficacy may also be affected by the species of bees that live in different regions. King says that the honey bees kept in many parts of Asia – called Apis cerana indica – are much less aggressive than African bee species and are less effective at deterring elephants.Even for beehives inhabited by the same species, not all hives deter elephants equally. A trial in Gabon found that while high-activity hives were very effective at protecting fruit trees from elephants, low-activity hives (and empty hives) were less effective. Unfortunately, this same study found that bees in very high-activity hives may produce less honey and be more aggressive than bees in low-activity hives.Challenges inherent to beekeeping have affected the effectiveness of some beehive fence projects. Conservationist and biological anthropologist Katarzyna Nowak told Mongabay that in many places in Africa, beekeepers simply provide hives and must wait for bees to come colonize them, sometimes resulting in low hive occupancy and consequently, less effective beehive fences. Furthermore, it can be hazardous to work with hundreds of stinging insects. African bees can be very aggressive – during one trial, two goats were stung to death, and people could not work in nearby fields when a hive was knocked down.Beehive fence in Kenya protecting maize (corn) from elephants that approach looking for a high-calorie meal. Image by Lucy King.Due to hazards like these, Hoare notes that the beehive fence technique, “will most likely only work in rural communities with a previous culture of beekeeping.” Indeed, Nowak says that it’s very important to take community history and preferences into account on these projects. “It’s as much about how people receive the particular deterrent method – and therefore maintain it – as it is about the efficacy of it,” she says.Farmers extracting honey from hives in the beehive fence. Communities with beekeeping interest are good candidates for beehive fence programs. Image courtesy of STEP.Another problem is that hives and the honey within them are subject to theft – sometimes by other humans, but often by honey badgers. Colonies often abandon a hive after a honey badger attack. However, simple additions like cages or motion-activated lights have shown promise in reducing honey badger impact on beehives.King says one of the biggest threats to beehive fence projects in more arid areas is actually climate change. “With climate change, the rainfall has become so erratic that we’re getting erratic flowering seasons, so the bees are being affected,” she says. “We’re losing colonies because they’re not holding on through the dry seasons…I don’t know what it means for our project long-term.”A line of beehives designed to protect crops on in northern Kenya. As dry seasons lengthen, bees may not be able to support themselves inside hives throughout the year, a concern for beehive fence farmers. Image by Lucy King.Some of the challenges of keeping bees — like hive maintenance, attacks by honey badgers, bee stings, and problems with hive occupation during the dry season — could be solved by using a stimulus that mimics bees rather than actual bees.Some trials have shown that buzzing bee sounds seemed to disturb elephants – one study found that 94 percent of African elephant families quickly left the area when the sound of disturbed bees was played. In India, news reports have detailed minor reductions in elephant fatalities in train collisions by using bee noises near the train tracks (although it’s unclear if this small decrease merely represents random variation that occurs year-to-year). Another study found that chemicals contained in bee alarm pheromones seemed to cause elephants to hesitate or retreat.But these bee-mimickers aren’t universally applicable either. A study in South Africa noted that elephants appeared, at most, mildly disturbed or attentive in response to bee noises alone. Another study found that Asian elephants did not retreat from beehive noises significantly more than they moved away from control noises (although they did move farther away when movement occurred).The human-elephant conflict toolboxThe moral of the story is that no single technique is 100 percent effective. Researchers acknowledge that several strategies should be used to foster the peaceful coexistence of elephants and people. “I’m a huge fan of what we call the human-elephant conflict toolbox,” says King. “There’s a variety of options you can use to keep elephants out of your farm and to live better with elephants. Without question, beehive fences should be one of those tools, but it’s not necessarily a silver bullet for the entire problem, nor are any of the others.”A remote camera captures an elephant approaching a beehive fence and deciding its next move. Image courtesy of Lucy King.Several other strategies have been determined to be at least partially effective, including setting off small handheld fireworks  putting chili oil on fences surrounding crops. King says her team is experimenting with growing crops that are regionally appropriate but less palatable for elephants. These include tea, ginger, sunflowers, and chilis.Overall, King says that beehive fences have been quite successful and word of that success has spread. “We have people queuing up for beehive fences, literally coming to the research center and emailing me from all over the world, requesting these.”An example of combining techniques to reduct human-elephant conflict: fences made of chili-oil (left) and beehives (right) between the Udzungwa Mountains National Park boundary and adjacent farms in Tanzania. Image courtesy of STEP.CitationsGubbi, S., Swaminath, M. H., Poornesha, H. C., Bhat, R., & Raghunath, R. (2014). An elephantine challenge: human–elephant conflict distribution in the largest Asian elephant population, southern India. Biodiversity and conservation, 23(3), 633-647.Hoare, R. (2012). Lessons from 15 years of human–elephant conflict mitigation: management considerations involving biological, physical and governance issues in Africa. Pachyderm, 51, 60-74.Johnson, Abigail S., “The Effects of Tactile and Visual Deterrents on Honey Badger Predation of Beehives” (2019). CUNY Academic Works., M., & Osborn, F. V. (2005). Can bees deter elephants from raiding crops? An experiment in the communal lands of Zimbabwe. Pachyderm, (39), 26-32.King, L. E., Douglas-Hamilton, I., & Vollrath, F. (2007). African elephants run from the sound of disturbed bees. Current Biology, 17(19), R832-R833.King, L. E., Lawrence, A., Douglas‐Hamilton, I., & Vollrath, F. (2009). Beehive fence deters crop‐raiding elephants. African Journal of Ecology, 47(2), 131-137.King, L. E., Douglas‐Hamilton, I., & Vollrath, F. (2011). Beehive fences as effective deterrents for crop‐raiding elephants: field trials in northern Kenya. African Journal of Ecology, 49(4), 431-439.King, L. E., Lala, F., Nzumu, H., Mwambingu, E., & Douglas‐Hamilton, I. (2017). Beehive fences as a multidimensional conflict‐mitigation tool for farmers coexisting with elephants. Conservation Biology, 31(4), 743-752.King, L. E., Serem, E., & Russo, L. (2018). Minimal effect of honey beehive fences on native bee diversity and abundance at the farm scale during the dry season in southern Kenya. Apidologie, 49(6), 862-871.King, L., Pardo, M., Weerathunga, S., Kumara, T. V., Jayasena, N., Soltis, J., & de Silva, S. (2018). Wild Sri Lankan elephants retreat from the sound of disturbed Asian honey bees. Current Biology, 28(2), R64-R65.Mackenzie, C. A., & Ahabyona, P. (2012). Elephants in the garden: Financial and social costs of crop raiding. Ecological Economics, 75, 72-82.Nair, R. P., & Jayson, E. A. (2016). Effectiveness of beehive fences to deter crop raiding elephants in Kerala, India. Int. Res. J. Nat. Appl. Sci, 3, 14-19.Ndlovu, M., Devereux, E., Chieffe, M., Asklof, K., & Russo, A. (2016). Responses of African elephants towards a bee threat: Its application in mitigating human-elephant conflict. South African Journal of Science, 112(1-2), 01-05.Ngama, S., Korte, L., Bindelle, J., Vermeulen, C., & Poulsen, J. R. (2016). How bees deter elephants: beehive trials with forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) in Gabon. PloS one, 11(5), e0155690.Sitati, N. W., & Walpole, M. J. (2006). Assessing farm-based measures for mitigating human-elephant conflict in Transmara District, Kenya. Oryx, 40(3), 279-286.van de Water, A., & Matteson, K. (2018). Human-elephant conflict in western Thailand: Socio-economic drivers and potential mitigation strategies. PloS one, 13(6), e0194736.Wright, M. G., Spencer, C., Cook, R. M., Henley, M. D., North, W., & Mafra-Neto, A. (2018). African bush elephants respond to a honeybee alarm pheromone blend. Current Biology, 28(14), R778-R780.Disney has supported the beehive fence research, including on this farm in Kenya. Image by Lucy King.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. 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