We are proud to announce a grant in the amount of $6,000 to be awarded to Silent Heroes Foundation.
The project, “A Beehive Fence Outside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, as a Form of Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation and an Entrepreneurial Venture for Marketing Honey,” will be completed in 2016. This project’s multifaceted goals are to deter crop-raiding elephants with the use of beehives along an active corridor. Farmers will benefit from secure crops, and the beehives can provide an additional form of sustainable agriculture. Elephants and humans can avoid dangerous conflicts with each other, thus allowing park rangers to concentrate efforts on anti-poaching patrol.
Elephants in Tanzania are not confined to national parks and reserves. Thus, interactions with farmers and specifically crop-raiding by these elephants pose serious social, political, economic and conservation problems in Tanzania. These interactions are commonly referred to as human-elephant conflict (HEC) and it is an increasing problem throughout Africa. Research conducted with free-ranging elephants has revealed that elephants will run from the sound of disturbed honeybees. Additionally, when they do run away, elephants emit a unique low frequency ‘bee alarm rumble’ vocalization, which warns the herd.
This knowledge led to the innovation of the ‘beehive fence’, which when placed around a farmer’s crops, successfully prevents the elephants from destroying them. To date, these beehive fences have been extremely successful in stopping elephants from breaking through to enter the farms. The participating farmers also benefit from harvesting their elephant-friendly honey, and humans and elephants coexist in a more peaceful community.
This initiative aims to develop a pilot bee fence outside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, an area known for having a high amount of HEC. By constructing a pilot fence, we aim to monitor HEC, and expect a reduction of both human and elephant mortalities associated with such conflict. This initiative will allow rangers to shift their focus to other critical priorities, such as anti-poaching operations. It will also allow farmers to yield a sustainable agricultural supply, as well as harvest honey for consumption or marketable distribution and income.
“This is a great example of conservation in action; it goes one step beyond the research process, and utilizes information in an innovative way that is simple yet effective for problem-solving at the interface between humans and wildlife in Africa,” said Hayley Adams, Director of Operations at the Silent Heroes Foundation. “It is just this sort of balance we need to continue to introduce throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, where we find increasing human populations and decreasing wildlife populations, along with the protected lands they inhabit.”
Primary funds granted by the Ian Somerhalder Foundation will be used to construct and monitor a pilot fence over a one-year research period. Additional funds will go to support community education and awareness, to instruct farmers on proper care of their hives and harvesting of honey, and to identify future sites for bee fences. On the ground, efforts will be coordinated by the Silent Heroes Foundation in partnership with The School for Field Studies (SFS) in Tanzania.