Monday, November 28, 2011

How to keep elephants out of your property

With the increase of human development, the home ranges for the elephants in the wildlife have reduced significantly, causing a rise in human and elephant conflicts. A study done by a British scientist, Lucy E. King, proposes a very clever and excellent way to conserve the world's largest land animals as well as proving the importance of bees to people. Her research proves that African honeybees can be a potential solution to deter the elephants to help protect the crops as well as the sale of honey.

Lucy King and her team have previously discovered that acacia trees that hosted beehives either occupied with bees or without, were saved from the damage by the elephants. Therefore, they hypothesize that if the farmers built beehive "fences," they would be able to keep the elephants out of the farmers's properties and crops without harming the elephants. The team demonstrated that 90% of the elephants will flee when they hear the sounds of buzzing bees. The study showed that the elephants would warn the other elephants by producing a special rumble and leading the entire group of elephants away from the beehives. The scientists believed that the reaction of the elephants could result from negative past events such as being stung by a bee or even observing other elephants being stung by bees. Such response also suggested that they probably obtained such behavior through social learning during a family retreat caused by disturbed bees. After the proposal of the solution, the community farmers adopted the findings to construct beehive barriers, weaving the beehives into their fences, to keep the elephants from where people live and grow crops.

Reference: African elephants run from the sound of disturbed bees Lucy E. King, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Fritz Vollrath Current Biology - 9 October 2007 (Vol. 17, Issue 19, pp. R832-R833)


Cassidy Anton said...

Observations like this are key to making effective corridors as opposed to anthropocentric minded animal highways. I read a paper recently that proposed studying land aspect as a way of predicting habitat. This meant preserving certain land topography and orientation with the expectation that habitats of interest would arise from these abiotic controls (i couldn't find the paper after a quick search, but will post it soon).

cikekwere said...

I concur with Cassidy, if more people spent time observing certain animals, their habitats and behavior, multiple solutions could be made to create a more mutualistic environment for multiple animals. Who knows, this might be a way to increase the population of some endangered species.