Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched a unique project of creating “bee-fences” to mitigate human – elephant conflicts in the country.
The objective of Project RE-HAB (Reducing Elephant – Human Attacks using Bees) is to thwart elephant attacks in human habitations using honey bees and thus reduce fatalities of humans as well as retaliatory deaths of elephants in the hands of humans.
Project RE-HAB is a sub-mission of KVIC’s National Honey Mission.
While the Honey Mission is a programme to increase the bee population, honey production and beekeepers’ income by setting up apiaries, Project RE-HAB uses bee boxes as a fence to prevent the attack of elephants.
Nearly 500 people die every year due to elephant attacks in India. This is nearly 10 times more than the fatalities caused by big cats across the country. From 2015 to 2020, nearly 2500 people have lost their lives in elephant attacks. Out of this, nearly 170 human fatalities have been reported in Karnataka alone. On the contrary, nearly one-fifth of this number, i.e. around 500 elephants have also died in retaliation by humans in the last 5 years.
It has been scientifically recorded that elephants are annoyed and even frightened of honey bees. Elephants fear that the bee swarms can bite their sensitive inner side of the trunk and eyes. The collective buzz of the bees is annoying to elephants and it forces them to return. Elephants, who are the most intelligent animal and carry their memories for long, avoid returning to the place where they have encountered honey bees.
The biggest advantage of Project RE-HAB is that it dissuades elephants without causing any harm to them. Besides, it is extremely cost-effective as compared to various other measures like digging trenches or erecting fences”.
A pilot project has been launched at 4 locations around village Chelur in Kodagu district of Karnataka during March 2021. These spots are located on the periphery of Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve and are known to be human-elephant conflict zones. The total cost of the project is just Rs 15 lakh.
KVIC has set up 15-20 interspersed bee boxes at each of the four locations. The bee boxes are set up in the passage ways of elephant-human conflict zones to block the entrance of elephants to human habitations. The boxes are connected with a string so that when elephants attempt to pass through, a tug or pull causes the bees to swarm the elephant herds and dissuade them from progressing further. Bee boxes have been placed on the ground as well as hung from the trees to block the passage way of elephants. High resolution, night vision cameras have been installed at strategic points to record the impact of bees on elephants and their behaviour in these zones.
Last Modified : 9/17/2021
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