There are no fences around Hwange National park or the forestry areas surrounding the park. so elephants cross easily from the protected area to the communal area.
In Kenya 80% of elephants have been stopped from entering fields due to bee-hive fences. Dr Lucy King and the team at the Elephants and Bees Project came up with the idea, after observing that elephants stayed away from trees with hives inside. As a result of this observation, bee hives were strung up around the perimeter of fields and as an elephant tries to enter the field, will move the rope that in-turn wakes up the bees.
The sound and smell deter the elephants, as well as new ‘structures’ on the landscape.
Given an elephant’s primary sense is smell, this can be used to protect crop fields, as they hate the smell of chillies and bees. We are currently setting up the bee-hives in key points and testing a combined barrier of bee-hives and chillies in 3 fields along the protected area boundary.
Chillies are currently grown in community gardens as they require water throughout the year they cannot survive the long dry season without water. Chilli soaked cloths strung up on ropes between beehives will be tested. The bee hives have had great success in Kenya but to protect a whole boundary and surround all fields will require huge amounts of hives. The combination of bees and chillies allows for the added benefits that come with the establishing a beekeeping initiative in the community.
It has been found that hives in trees are raided and destroyed at the beginning of winter which leaves bees in danger. Providing hives for the community both for families to have access to sustainable honey collection and to create income generation means there are multiple positive and regenerative benefits including increased pollination of crops.