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Can bees deter elephants from raiding crops? An experiment in the communal lands of Zimbabwe

Pachyderm. July-December; 39: 26-32

Can bees deter elephants from raiding crops? An experiment in the communal lands of Zimbabwe

Mitigating human-elephant conflict has arguably taken centre stage in elephant conservation concerns across the range states of Africa and Asia. Farmers in settlements that abut elephant range need sustainable ways of keeping elephants and other crop pests out of their fields. Here we examine the use of the African honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata) as a possible means to deter the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) from raiding crops. We tested whether mounting beehives strategically around crop fields would deter elephants from crop raiding. No deterrent effect was detected, but the tests were small in scale, and further tests are needed to better assess the hypothesis that bees can be used to discourage elephants from raiding crops. Although not tested here, beehives might prove a useful livelihood addition if honey can be successfully harvested and marketed. We suggest that bees alone will not stop elephants from raiding crops, but if combined with a suite of 'low tech' methods and practically linked with the economic potential of honey production, bees can be another tool for rural farmers to use to improve their livelihoods and aid in conserving elephants.

Accession: 038040343

Related references

Ilukol, Chiyo P., 2001: Age structure, group size and habitual raiding behavior of elephants raiding crops around Kibale National Park. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting Abstracts 86: 121

Ngama, S.; Korte, L.; Bindelle, Jérôme.; Vermeulen, Cédric.; Poulsen, J.R., 2016: How Bees Deter Elephants: Beehive Trials with Forest Elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) in Gabon. In Gabon, like elsewhere in Africa, crops are often sources of conflict between humans and wildlife. Wildlife damage to crops can drastically reduce income, amplifying poverty and creating a negative perception of wild animal conservation among ru...

Osborn, Fv, 2004: Seasonal variation of feeding patterns and food selection by crop-raiding elephants in Zimbabwe. Elephants and humans are increasingly coming into conflict because of the conversion of elephant habitat into agricultural areas. In order to identify trends that influence raiding behaviour, the nutritional makeup of food items consumed by crop-r...

Apthorpe, R., 1986: Social labelling and agricultural development. Communal Lands or Council Lands in Zimbabwe?. In Africa, social and economic labels are frequently closely involved with problems of agricultural development. The article shows how misleading labels can be: whether 'Communal Areas" in Zimbabwe are entirely communal, and whether they...

Anonymous, 1989: People, land and livestock. Proceedings of a workshop on the socio-economic dimensions of livestock production in the communal lands of Zimbabwe, 12-14 September, 1988, Great Zimbabwe, Masvingo. The inequitable distribution of land in Zimbabwe as a constraint to communal land livestock production was the theme of discussion at this workshop held at Masvingo, Zimbabwe, in September 1988. A number of aspects on the question of agrarian refo...

Helmsing, A.H.J., 1991: Non-agricultural enterprises in the communal lands of Zimbabwe. Preliminary results are presented of a survey of non-agricultural enterprises which was conducted in 1986. Initially, an outline is given of the research and the research areas (25 households in each of 8 randomly selected districts in Shona-speak...

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Helmsing, A.H.J., 1987: Rural industries and the Communal Lands economy in Zimbabwe. Since independence Zimbabwe has given high priority to economic diversification of the Communal Lands by means of promotion of rural industries. However, little attention has been given to factors that limit the scope for rural industrialization....

English, M.; Stoutjesdyk, J., 1995: Consideration of deficit irrigation in the Communal Lands of Zimbabwe. A deficit irrigation strategy for maize was examined on a small farm in a communal area near Mutoko, Zimbabwe. Optimum irrigation strategy for that farm would be to apply 14-40% less water than required by conventional irrigation practices.

Jackson, J.C., 1989: Exploring livestock incomes in Zimbabwe's communal lands. The paper explores the twin issues of measurement and distribution of benefits from subsistence livestock production in Zimbabwe. Subsistence production benefits are characteristically indirect, posing a severe methodological problem of measuremen...