Africa: bees to protect fields against elephants


Tobias Zick, Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Date Published

In places, it is possible rangers to stop the depletion of African elephants. For many this is a reason to celebrate, but not about for those small farmers who grow on the edge of protected areas pumpkins and corn. Just one of the gray giants, who driven by appetite blessed by so wallows a field can topple an entire village community in Existenznot. The term “man-elephant conflict” prepares biologists headaches, holds political dynamite and is incidentally often consulted by einfliegenden big game hunters as an argument for their utterly selfless dedication during their annual leave. As fast as Africa’s population grows, the need for bloodless solutions.

The intelligence of animals makes it any easier. Simple gates, for example, you can open my trunk, depress electric fences with the help of branches after a short learning period. And desperate peasants who throw stones at the Pachyderm, bashing with sticks on them, firing rifles in the air or bangers ignite so that evoke all the more fiercer reactions of the other side.
But it is not so that the majestic giants of anything or anyone could respect. A small but common opponents teaches reliably fear: the honeybee, especially the particularly aggressive African variant. Their sting, especially on the snout tip or around the eyes, even elephants hurts so much that they run away before the approaching hum of a swarm of bees and alerting their relationship by warning calls. The British-born zoologist Lucy King, who grew up in different countries in Africa, has observed this behavior for years and it is a as simple as active principle developed: the “beehive fence”.
Elephant tormented peasants mounted at a distance of about ten meters each beehives on trees or racks, connected by a simple wire. Touched an elephant the wire, the bees are startled and hit already by their buzzing the intruder to flee. The project is now financed by the international conservation organization “Save the Elephants” and of the University of Oxford and the Walt Disney Naturschutzfonds. In Kenya and Botswana, it has proven itself so well in the first test phases that conservationists now install the bee fences and around farms in northern Tanzania, on the edge of the world famous Serengeti National Park about where elephant populations are growing for years – also thanks to the efforts of the Zoological Company Frankfurt, which has been committed to Bernhard Grzimek times in the Serengeti. In the south, where poachers have the once vast herds decimated last extreme, the situation is however different. Now the bees are not only help around the Serengeti curb the growing threat of human-elephant conflicts. Incidentally they are the villagers also open up a new source of income: by selling honey namely who is certified as a “elephant friendly”.