Can a honeybee save an elephant?
You love elephants, those grey gentle giants.
How could you not, when you see how they recognize each other like humans would, behave as a human family, and even mourn for the loss of their loved ones.
Considering that such beautiful and complex creatures are hunted close to extinction for the ivory of their tusks, one would imagine that defending elephants is a goal shared by every decent person in this world.
Yet, imagine the life of a farming family in Keyna, or Tanzania.
They broke their back by working their farmland in an environment that, more often than not, presents significant challenges.
Then, one night, a pack of pachyderms migrating from a reserve to another raids their crops and breaks into their house searching for food.
The next morning, assuming they have not been injured or worse, the members of the family realize that their livelihood is significantly compromised, potentially at risk.
If earlier they were not thinking about ivory, now they might be actually quite tempted to payback elephants for what they have done (and could do again).
And if some income comes by joining the ivory trade, so be it. Now that their corp and house are destroyed, they need money more than even.
Coexistence, this is the problem
Elephants roam huge territories. They migrate, entering and exiting reserves.
Farmers also need land to grow crops and sustain their families.
Physical barriers don’t really stop elephants.
A large elephant male can weight up to 6 tonnes, like a small lorry. And can charge at up to 25 mph (40km/h). Not so easy to stop.
Furthermore, elephants are smart and can cooperate. They can easily overcome many of the obstacles on their way.
Is there a way to prevent human-elephant conflict?
And while at it, boosting the local economy and benefiting the ecosystem?
Enter the mighty bees and Wild Survivors.
Elephants, like most of the humans I know, have an innate fear of bees.
By fencing farm plots with beehives suspended from strong wire on tree posts, it’s possible to create living, natural boundaries that elephants avoid.
This clever solution is based on research by Dr Lucy King of Save the Elephants.
Dr King keeps offering her help and guidance to the UK registered charity Wild Survivors which is supported by us at British Wax too.
Donor-funded beehives provide very effective protection for the crops.
Wild Survivors installs beehives within farm boundaries, so that encroachment of farmland onto natural habitat is prevented.
The bees are cared for by the farmers who complete a course in beekeeping.
This turns out to add a revenue stream for villagers, as they can now sell honey and beeswax.
Bees are also pollinators, which boosts crop yield and forest health.
If you too want to support this amazing work, you can do so by donating to Wild Survivors on their website, see link below.
Also, please consider using our beeswaxes in your products.
It’s not just because beeswax has some antimicrobic effects, or is a great insulator. Or is used in the food industry as a film to wrap cheese for maturing, or as a food additive. Or for the many other excellent characteristics of this product.
But through our partner East Africa Wax Company, we work with local beekeepers in Tanaznia and Kenya that join Wild Survivior’s projects. You would support a great cause!
Picture by Matthew Spiteri – Unsplash
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