Wild Survivors, a small Suffolk-based charity, is making a big difference to elephant welfare and communities in Tanzania with a simple and ecologically conscious method, says David Fettes
In Tanzania, over the past five years, more than 65,000 elephants have been slaughtered for their tusks or by exhausted farmers protecting their crops from being raided. At this erosion rate, the elephant may soon be an endangered species in Tanzania, and more widely in Africa.
Registered charity Wild Survivors is using a multi-faceted approach to protect these magnificent animals. The organisation promotes education in rural areas and is funding a project to use honeybees to prevent elephant from raiding farmers’ crops, particularly at night. Currently, after long days of work, farmers are sitting up all night to chase off the marauding elephant, armed only with sticks, rocks and chilli bombs.
Therefore, Wild Survivors is installing perimeter beehive fences in northern Tanzania as a working solution to human-elephant conflict. This innovative and highly effective method was first developed by Dr Lucy King in Kenya. Beehives are suspended every 10 metres along a wire fence around a field. When elephant try to step over the wire, they agitate the fence and make the beehives swing which angers the bees inside. Bees come out to see who is invading their home.
Surprisingly, elephant have many sensitive parts on their skin, such as inside their trunks, and the African honeybee’s sting is particularly painful. They fear the bees and quickly retreat. There is also an added benefit; the honey produced can be harvested and sold by the farmers.
Wild Survivors works with villages to form this community-led project. Village members learn new skills in beekeeping, creating equality and a sustainable livelihood. This wonderful solution is permanent and self-funding. It’s simple, organic and provides an essential platform for wildlife education.
The charity is also developing a scalable and inclusive project model to be expanded across Northern Tanzania, and into central Kenya, where conflict with elephant is increasing.
To support the fences, Wild Survivors has designed and manufactured the world’s first compact audio deterrent device for conservation – the Buzz Box. The cylindrical lightweight box is triggered using an infra-red sensor and when elephant approach, the sound of angry bees is emitted. A crowdfunding campaign on wildcrowd.org begins this October to raise funds for the supply of Buzz Boxes to rural villages.
Wild Survivors is a volunteer organisation entirely dependent on donations. It works closely with anti-poaching bodies that face threats from a dangerous and determined poaching community intent on supplying a voracious demand for ivory. The charity is focused on creating natural low-cost natural solutions to part of the problems arising from the pressures faced by an increasing human and rapidly declining elephant population.
To read more about the Wild Survivors project, click here.