How bees help elephants
Bees have been helping to reduce human-elephant conflict in Africa for several years, and are now doing the same in Thailand. But, how?
Believe it or not, elephants are scared of bees!
They are afraid the bees will fly into their ears and trunks - and when it comes to reducing conflict, fear goes very much in the elephants favour.
In countries where wild elephants roam, they occasionally wander into villages, scaring the local people and destroying crops or buildings. The people retaliate, often violently, and they and the elephants can be harmed. This is what we call human-elephant conflict.
To divert elephants from specific areas, beehives are placed around the perimeter of villages and cropland. When elephants walk towards them, they disturb the hives and the bees fly out, scaring the elephants and making them run away whilst emitting a 'bee alarm' to other elephants.
The success rate of such bee-elephant projects is currently 80%. Find out more!
Thailand Elephants is fundraising to help set up the first semi-wild elephant bee project in Thailand called 'bees for eles' - help make this awesome project a reality by donating below!
At Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary (KSES), the resident elephants are free-roaming during the day (with their mahouts) and chained at night to prevent them wandering off and getting into conflict with the local villagers. However, even with these measures in place, there is always a risk of the elephants breaking into fields, damaging the local communities' livelihoods and putting humans and themselves at risk. Often, pesticides and fertilisers are left behind in the fields, which can be fatal to elephants if eaten.
KSES has set up a community-based beehive programme, which will reduce the need for the night time confinement of elephants and keep them, the local communities and their livelihoods safe. The project will also generate extra income for the local people who can sell the honey made from the beehives. This in turn creates an incentive to care for and maintain the beehive fence, ultimately benefiting the local people and elephants. Win-win!
Finally, the project – through research and analysis – will provide a guide for captive elephant managers to improve elephant welfare in terms of reducing the need for confinement, improving elephant diet, natural behaviour, inter-species behaviour and socialisation.
You can support the KSES bee-elephant project by sponsoring a beehive or donating to the 'Bees for Eles' project.