Fence with bees coming up to prevent elephant-human conflict

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Bengaluru, Mar 15 (PTI): A unique project of creating fences with bees to prevent the elephant-human conflict was launched by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) on Monday.

Named as Reducing Elephant Human Attacks using Bees (RE-HAB), the project aims at creating such fences to mitigate the human-elephant conflicts in the country.

Boxes of bees 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 herds and dissuade them from going further.

The boxes have been placed on the ground as well as hung from the trees to block the passage of elephants.

'The objective of Project RE-HAB 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,' the KVIC said in a statement.

According to the KVIC, the pilot project was launched at four locations around village Chelur in Kodagu district of Karnataka by KVIC chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena.

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, the commission said.

It added that Project RE-HAB is a sub-mission of KVICs 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,' the commission said.

KVIC has set up 15-20 interspersed bee boxes at each of the four locations.

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.

Speaking about the initiative, the KVIC chairman said, It has been scientifically recorded that elephants are annoyed and even frightened of honey bees.' He added that elephants fear that the bee swarms can bite their sensitive inner side of the trunk and eyes.

The buzz of the bees is annoying to elephants that force them to return.

'Elephants, the most intelligent of all animals that carry their memories for long, avoid returning to the place where they have encountered honey bees, Saxena said.

According to KVIC, nearly 500 people die every year due to elephant attacks in the country.

This is nearly 10 times more than the fatalities caused by big cats across the country. PTI GMS NVG NVG