Using Bees To Save Elephants

3779_file_Elephant2_Balfour.jpgFact #1: Elephants fear bees and run when they hear angry buzzing. Fact #2: African elephants are being squeezed into smaller and smaller wild neighborhoods. Problem: Elephants don’t generally buy into our notions of land ownership and cross onto private property (imagine) to eat farmers’ crops. Solution: Strategically placed beehives, or even just recordings of bees, to create “fences” elephants understand.

The new study, published in Current Biology, suggests a low-tech elephant deterrent and conservation measure. Way, way better than shooting them.

The researchers who deserve kudus: Lucy E. King of the University of Oxford, and Save the Elephants in Nairobi; Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants in Nairobi; and Fritz Vollrath of the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, and Save the Elephants in Nairobi.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones’ environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, “The Fragile Edge,” and other writings, here.


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  • Julia Whitty is the environmental correspondent for Mother Jones. Her latest book is Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean. For more of her stories, click here.