Human-elephant conflict is widespread throughout the African elephant’s range where human and elephant populations overlap, and is considered one of the main threats to elephant conservation in Africa after ivory poaching. Both human and elephant populations experience casualties due to elephant crop raids close to villages, and as a result there is little political or community will to conserve elephants in the area, causing difficulties in reducing elephant poaching for ivory. The goal of the Niassa Beehive Fence Project is to pilot test and examine the use of beehive fences as a long-term and effective method of reducing elephant crop raiding that is community based and sustainable. This funding will provide for beehive fence construction and maintenance. The beehive fence has shown to be an economically viable and humane deterrent for elephants intent on moving into cropland. This restricted wildlife presence in human areas reduces animosity from local people who are less likely to retaliate after crop raids and injuries and thus acts to preserve wild elephant populations. A secondary benefit will be the conservation education the local people gain from the fence installations, and the ability to sell the honey produced for profit. This will help cultivate a positive reaction to the presence of elephants, delivering a beneficial economic impact through the protection of crops, the added profit from honey, and the knowledge that such programs would not exist were elephants not present in the area.
With support from Taronga in 2014-2015, the Niassa Carnivore Project has demonstrated that beehive fences significantly reduce elephant crop raids and through the sale of honey, provides an incentive for local communities to become involved with the program. Over 40 local farmers helped to construct the experimental fencing in two villages, which consisted of a total of 72 beehives over a 1,122m perimeter. Increasing numbers of farmers are now requesting assistance to establish their own beehive fences, and the Niassa Carnivore program is working hard to build additional beehives and distribute them to communities in need.
The mission of the Niassa Carnivore Project is to conserve lions and other large carnivores (leopards, spotted hyenas, and African wild dogs) in the vast Niassa National Reserve (16,000 ml2 ; 42,000 km2) in Mozambique. They work in collaboration with the Mozambican government, the Reserve Management Authority and local communities
What can you do?
Save and Create Animal Habitats: Bees are helping to protect elephants and people in Niassa, but they are an essential part of Australian ecosystems too. Help protect Australian bees by avoiding pesticides and keeping a variety of locally native plants in your garden.