If I were to tell you that we use an Anatolian Shepherd (that is a really big dog, really big!) in front of our Cheetah exhibit to tell the story of how livestock owners in Africa use dogs to protect livestock and chase away cheetahs you would think, ok – that makes some sense. Chasing away cheetahs means villagers and ranchers do not need to kill cheetahs to protect their livelihoods, something which happened much too often in the past.
I would then go on to say that people use dogs to chase away elephants and that would be ridiculous. We need something meaner, more aggressive, like – an African bee! And that would also make no sense. Who has pet bees?
It is much too long to explain here but researchers in Kenya working with Save the Elephants noticed one day that when elephants were around trees with large hives of bees, they would quickly move away. And after years of testing, it turns out that even the recorded sound of an angry buzzing hive will make elephants go far out of their way to stay out of the bee’s way.
So let me put this into perspective. I am pulling weeds in my yard (Brazoria County, not Africa) and I hit a yellow jacket nest get stung twice and run for my life. If I am an elephant and an angry swarm of African bees is heading my way, I too would make a quick exit.
Back to my story. Researchers then took it a step further. How do you keep an elephant from walking into your field, eating most of your crops, destroying the rest as they wander through the field and putting you and your community on the verge of having nothing to eat? You put up a rope fence, sting some wooden beehives across them and keep out the elephants. Even better, you can collect the honey for both food and extra income. A win-win for the people, the elephants.
How can you help protect elephants and support local communities in Africa? Funny you should ask. We have an option on our new online auction event where you can donate funds to purchase new beehives and support local community projects for as little as $15. Go to our Future for Wild Elephants Online Auction—- and help us protect elephants, and support local people in Africa.