Redhouse resident Tanya Cobb departed for Africa at the end of June to help local people protect their farmland from marauding elephants with the help of bees – and she’s appealing for your help to sustain the project.
Tanya, who attended Isambard Community School and Cirencester College, before starting a bioscience degree at Exeter University, is working with six other undergraduates who will spend July in Kenya.
She said: “As humans cultivate more land that elephants have roamed on in the past, the potential for conflict, damage and injury to people and animals and has grown enormously. Work by Dr Lucy King has shown that understanding and using elephant behaviour can reduce conflict as a result crop-raiding by using the elephant’s instinctive avoidance of African honeybees.
“Our Bee-Elephant Enterprise Project (BEE Project) is a cooperative effort with local farmers to install beehive fences in a human-elephant conflict hotspot outside Tsavo East National Park.
“These fences act as a natural deterrent, preserve the village crops and create a social and economic boost to poor rural communities through pollination services and sustainable harvesting of honey.
“The fences are simple and cheap to make, no cement is used and they are made using locally sourced materials. Hives, or dummy hives, are hung every 10 metres, linked together by wire so that if an elephant touches one of the hives or the wire, all of the hives along the fence line will start to swing, disturbing the bees who emerge to drive the elephant away. African honeybees are aggressive and elephants really don’t like them.”
The BEE project is seeking £9,000 to build a complete beehive fence. Sponsor a beehive for £40 at: www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/beeproject
Tanya, pictured right. Top, Kenyan villagers putting up a bee fence to elephants off their crops