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Responses of African elephants towards a bee threat: Its application in mitigating human–elephant conflict

Authors:
  • University of Mpumalanga

Abstract

Human settlement expansion into elephant ranges, as well as increasing elephant populations within confined areas has led to heightened levels of human-elephant conflict in southern African communities living near protected areas. Several methods to mitigate this conflict have been suggested including the use of bees as an elephant deterrent. We investigated whether bee auditory and olfactory cues (as surrogates for live bees) could be used to effectively deter elephants. We evaluated the responses of elephants in the southern section of the Kruger National Park to five different treatments: (1) control noise, (2) buzzing bee noise, (3) control noise with honey scent, (4) honey scent, and (5) bee noise with honey scent. Elephants did not respond or displayed less heightened responses to the first four treatments. All elephants exposed to the bee noise with honey scent responded with defensive behaviours and 15 out of 21 individuals also fled. We concluded that buzzing bees or honey scent as isolated treatments (as may be the case with dormant beehives) were not effective elephant deterrents, but rather an active beehive emitting a combination of auditory and olfactory cues was a viable deterrent. However, mismatches in the timing of elephant raids and activity of bees may limit the use of bees in mitigating the prevailing human-elephant conflict. © 2016. The Author(s). Published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence.
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South African Journal of Science
http://www.sajs.co.za
Volume 112 | Number 1/2
January/February 2016
Research Article Responses of African elephants towards a bee threat
Page 1 of 5
© 2016. The Author(s).
Published under a Creative
Commons Attribution Licence.
Responses of African elephants towards a bee
threat: Its application in mitigating
human–elephant conflict
AUTHORS:
Mduduzi Ndlovu1,2
Emma Devereux2
Melissa Chieffe2
Kendra Asklof2
Alicia Russo2
AFFILIATIONS:
1School of Animal, Plant and
Environmental Sciences,
University of the Witwatersrand,
Johannesburg, South Africa
2Organisation for Tropical
Studies, Skukuza, South Africa
CORRESPONDENCE TO:
Mduduzi Ndlovu
EMAIL:
mdu.ndlovu@wits.ac.za
POSTAL ADDRESS:
School of Animal, Plant and
Environmental Sciences,
University of the Witwatersrand,
Private Bag 3, Wits 2050,
South Africa
DATES:
Received: 10 Feb. 2015
Revised: 22 May 2015
Accepted: 02 June 2015
KEYWORDS:
Loxodonta africana; South Africa;
auditory cues;
olfactory cues; behaviour
HOW TO CITE:
Ndlovu M, Devereux E,
Chieffe M, Asklof K. Russo
A. Responses of African
elephants towards a bee threat:
Its application in mitigating
human–elephant conflict.
S Afr J Sci. 2016;112(1/2),
Art. #2015-0058, 5 pages.
http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/
sajs.2016/20150058
Human settlement expansion into elephant ranges, as well as increasing elephant populations within confined
areas has led to heightened levels of human–elephant conflict in southern African communities living near
protected areas. Several methods to mitigate this conflict have been suggested including the use of bees as
an elephant deterrent. We investigated whether bee auditory and olfactory cues (as surrogates for live bees)
could be used to effectively deter elephants. We evaluated the responses of elephants in the southern section
of the Kruger National Park to five different treatments: (1) control noise, (2) buzzing bee noise, (3) control
noise with honey scent, (4) honey scent, and (5) bee noise with honey scent. Elephants did not respond or
displayed less heightened responses to the first four treatments. All elephants exposed to the bee noise with
honey scent responded with defensive behaviours and 15 out of 21 individuals also fled. We concluded that
buzzing bees or honey scent as isolated treatments (as may be the case with dormant beehives) were not
effective elephant deterrents, but rather an active beehive emitting a combination of auditory and olfactory
cues was a viable deterrent. However, mismatches in the timing of elephant raids and activity of bees may
limit the use of bees in mitigating the prevailing human–elephant conflict.
Introduction
The southern African region accounts for about 40% of the African elephant’s (Loxodonta africana) total range
area.1-3 Despite measures taken to manage elephant populations in protected areas over the course of the past
century, elephant numbers in the region have increased from approximately 170 000 to about 268 000 between
1995 and 2012.1 As a result of growing African elephant populations within protected areas and increased land
cultivation bordering these areas (resulting from human population growth and expansion), there have been
numerous reported incidences of humanelephant encounters and conflict, particularly in poor rural farming
communities.4,5 Humanelephant conflict typically refers to interactions between people and elephants that threaten
the lives and livelihoods of both parties involved.6 Beyond growing human and elephant populations, the primary
contributing factors to humanelephant conflict in recent years have been increased human settlement and land
use change in established elephant migratory corridors. Such human interruptions have in turn affected elephant
behaviour and socio-ecology.6
Elephant crop raiding is by far the most common cause of humanelephant conflict in South Africa.4,6 Increased
strain on resource availability for growing elephant populations has forced many elephants to leave protected areas
and forage on cultivated crops as a means of maximising nutrient intake and reproductive success.7 Consequently,
elephant crop raiding has costs for both humans and elephants. The costs to humans include economic losses
through destroyed crops, raided food stores, damaged infrastructure and water sources, and disturbed livestock.6
Although incidences of damage by elephant crop raiding are low overall, there have been some occurrences of
complete crop devastation,5,6 which can have a substantial influence on the livelihood of the impacted farmer. In
some rare cases, crop raiding has also caused injury and loss of human life.6 Costs to elephants are injury or death
at the hands of humans.6,7
Considering the high cost of crop raiding for both humans and elephants, a number of deterrent methods have
been explored.6,8,9 Some methods of deterring elephants have included the construction of barriers, translocation
and the culling of problem elephants.8 Although these management strategies have proven effective in some cases,
they are often very expensive, beyond the means of most rural communities and can be ethically controversial.8
Rural farmers have attempted to defend their crops against elephants using traditional methods, such as
lighting fires, making loud noises, and throwing stones.8 Past research efforts (e.g. Graham and Ochieng10)
investigated the use of warning alarms, loud noisemakers, watchtowers, spotlights, and African birds eye chillies
(Capsicum frutescens) in an effort to find an effective deterrent strategy for the management of elephants.
Unfortunately, problem elephants would avoid detection by raiding crops at night when people were asleep7 and
hence most deterrent strategies were difficult to implement without constant vigilance. Furthermore, some of these
methods have proven to be ineffective and only add costs to farmers, for example, the use of chillies.11
Currently, there is a need for an effective, inexpensive, and non-labour intensive method of elephant deterrence for
rural communities.9 Based on evidence of elephants’ acute hearing capabilities and sensitive olfactory systems,
research has begun to focus on deterrents that target elephants’ hearing and smell.12,13 Additionally, anecdotal
evidence shows that despite their thick skin, elephants have sensitive soft regions (i.e. behind the ears, in the eyes,
under the trunk and inner-trunk membranes) vulnerable to African honey bee (Apis mellifera scutellata) stings.9,14
There is a report of a bull elephant in Kenya that became permanently blind after being stung by bees multiple
times in the eye.14 King et al.9 recently compared elephant responses to bee audio recordings and white noise
recordings. They found that elephants retreated in response to bee noises and displayed defensive behavioural
responses likely to prevent bee stings, including head shaking and dusting, but displayed no significant response to
the other noise treatment. This suggests that bee presence could be used as a potential deterrent method for raiding
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elephants. However, its long-term effectiveness is still unknown as there
is a possibility for animals to get habituated to the threat.
To our knowledge, this type of deterrent has never been explored and
evaluated in the high elephant density regions of southern Africa.
Therefore, we explored the efficacy of using African honey bee (the bee
species found in Kruger National Park) presence to deter elephants. Using
African honey bee sound and scent as surrogates for bee presence, we
investigated whether bee auditory and olfactory cues could be used to
effectively deter elephants. We evaluated the responses of elephants
in the southern section of the Kruger National Park in South Africa to
five different treatments that were a combination of sound and scent
stimuli. Our present study tests the hypothesis that the presence of bees
exhibiting a single cue, either olfactory or auditory, is sufficient to deter
wild elephants.
Materials and methods
Study Site
Data were collected between November 2013 and February 2014 at
the height of the summer rainy season in the southern region of the
Kruger National Park (hereafter simply referred to as the Kruger) within
a 50 km radius from Skukuza rest camp (S 24° 59’ 43”, E 31°35’34”).
The southern section of Kruger is relatively flat and lies in the Lowveld
region at altitudes between 200 m and 700 m above mean sea level.15
The region receives a mean annual rainfall of 500700 mm,16 and is
characterised by a savanna bushveld dominated by Acacia spp trees
and high-bulk grasses such as buffalo grass (Panicum coloratum),
red grass (Themedra triandra), and bushveld signal grass (Urochloa
mosabicensis) species.16 Large herbivores such as elephant, white
rhino (Ceratotherium simum), giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis),
greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and Burchell’s zebra (Equus
quagga burchellii) inhabit the landscape.17
Elephant numbers in the Kruger are rapidly increasing. By the end of
2011, there were approximately 14 273 individual elephants in the
park.18 These high densities are reported to negatively alter vegetation
structure and diversity in some parts of the park.19,20
Experimental design
We performed preliminary trials in a controlled environment to assess the
risk associated with conducting this study in the field. These preliminary
experiments involved the exposure of six captive elephants from an
elephant sanctuary (S 25°01’39”, E 31°07’30”) to bee and waterfall
audio recordings played from a speaker placed approximately 50 m from
the animals. The waterfall and angry buzzing African honey bee noises
used in the study were recorded in the Kruger using the high definition
voice memo application on an iPhone 4 (Apple Inc, Cupertino, California,
USA). Recorded sound treatments were played from an iPhone 4
connected to a 40 watt power Samson Expedition XP40iw rechargeable
battery powered wireless PA – Channel 6 (Samson Technologies,
Hauppauge, NY, USA) The speaker was placed on top of the research
vehicle and sounds were played at maximum volume. Captive elephants
(n=6) moved away from the bee noises and as expected, did not appear
to respond significantly to our control treatment, the waterfall noise. We
then shifted our focus to experimentation on wild elephants in the Kruger.
For trials in the Kruger, we drove on management roads around the
southern region of the park and arbitrarily selected elephants for ob-
servation that were within a 50 m radius of the observation vehicle.
Researchers were always accompanied by an armed research assistant.
When elephants were located, we observed the animals’ pre-stimulus
behaviour for 10 min in order to establish a baseline from which we
could judge changes in behaviour during the treatment and to ensure
that the elephants were somewhat acclimatised to our presence.
Most elephants in the Kruger appear to be habituated to the presence
of researcher vehicles. We then conducted a behavioural response
experiment where we randomly exposed different individuals and groups
of wild elephants to one of the five treatments: namely (1) control noise
(waterfall), (2) buzzing bee noise, (3) control noise with honey scent, (4)
honey scent, and (5) buzzing bee noise with honey scent. The speaker
was positioned on top of the research vehicle, a method similar to that
used by McComb.22 Each treatment was presented for 2 min and the
elephant’s behavioural response was recorded throughout the duration
of the treatment.
We used Estes’21 behavioural definitions to group and classify 11
possible responses that would indicate the efficacy of a deterrent on a
scale of 0–5 (Table 1). Only the highest behavioural response exhibited
by each elephant was eventually recorded as that individual’s response
level for a given trial (Table 1). For each trial, we also recorded total herd
size, time of day, ambient temperature, age and sex of the individuals.
Age of individual elephants was determined by our experienced game
guards and confirmed using Estes.21 To minimise the chance of
subjecting the same elephants to a second treatment on the same day,
we only (1) searched each road once a day and (2) selected elephants
for observation that were more than 2 km away from the previous herd
or individual tested. In instances where we were certain about individual
elephant identity, we never sampled those elephants again.
Table 1: Classification of elephant behaviour into response levels as
adapted from Estes21
Response level Response category Behaviour
0No change in
pre-stimulus behaviour No observable reaction
1 Attentive Listen, freeze,
sniff-object
2 Mild disturbance, cautious Flap ears, reach and
touch another elephant
3 Stress, cautious Temporal gland
sweat, grouping
4 Strong deterrence Panic run,
deliberately flee
5 Threat Charge, mock charge
All sound treatments were kept constant by using the same speaker
and volume level. For the honey scent treatment, 50 mL of honey was
dissolved in 350 mL of boiling water and the resultant solution was
dispersed in a fine mist using a 500 mL handheld plastic spray bottle
pointed in the direction of the elephants. We used waterfall noise as
our control, based on the assumption that it was a natural and non-
threatening sound that would not significantly alter elephant behaviour.
Researchers were aware of the treatment being given; however all
response levels recorded were dictated by a predefined ethogram
(Table 1) and agreed upon by the researchers.
Data Analysis
We used the non-parametric Kruskal–Wallis one-way analysis of
variance by ranks test with a post-hoc multiple comparison to test for
differences in behavioural response levels of elephants to each of the five
treatments. A series of Mann–Whitney U tests were used to determine
any age-related (adults vs juveniles) differences in behavioural
responses for each experimental treatment. All statistical analyses were
carried out using the STATISTICA 623 program and tested at the 5% level
of significance.
Results
We encountered a total of 136 wild elephants during the study and
sampled only 89 individuals, yielding an overall observation rate of 65%.
We classed elephants into two age categories: Juveniles’ (n=41) and
Research Article Responses of African elephants towards a bee threat
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Adults’ (n=48). We exposed 11 elephants to treatment with control noise
alone, 21 elephants to treatment with bee noise alone, 15 elephants to
treatment with control noise and honey scent, 18 elephants to treatment
with honey scent alone, and 24 elephants to treatment with bee noise
and honey scent. The most frequently observed response across all five
treatments was an attentive response (response level 1; n=27) where
subjects would freeze and then raise their trunks to sniff towards the
source of the treatment (Figure 1). Level 4 responses, where elephants
ran away from the source of the treatment, was the highest behaviour
recorded and it was elicited in 15 out of 21 elephants exposed to the
bee noise with honey scent treatment (Figure 1). Interestingly, the honey
scent alone treatment sometimes (5 out of 15) drew subjects towards
the source of the treatment. Three elephants came within 2 m of the
vehicle. We classed this behaviour as response level 1.
5
4
3
2
1
1 2 3 4 5
Treatment
(10)
(10)
(8)
(5)
(5)
(2)
(3) (5)
(15)
(13)
(9) (4)
Response level
Figure 1: Elephant behavioural response level as a function of experi-
mental treatment. Treatment labels are as follows: (1) control
noise, (2) buzzing bee noise, (3) honey scent, (4) control noise
with honey scent and (5) bee noise with honey scent. Numbers
in parentheses show the sample sizes for each response level.
There was a significant difference in behavioural response levels of
elephants to each of the five treatments (F=52.15, d.f.=4, p<0.001,
n=89). The bee noise and honey scent treatment elicited the highest
deterrent behavioural responses from elephants and these response
levels were significantly higher than those of the control noise (p=0.004),
control noise with honey scent (p<0.001) and honey scent (p<0.001)
treatments (p<0.001). However, the response levels to the bee noise
with honey scent treatment were not significantly different from the
honey scent treatment (p=0.126; Table 2). There were no significant
differences in the levels of response amongst the (1) control noise, (2)
bee noise alone, (3) control noise with honey scent, and (4) honey scent
alone treatments (Table 2).
There were no significant differences in behavioural response levels
between adults and juveniles within each of the five treatments (control
noise: U=12.5, p=0.788; bee noise; U=22, p=0.317; control noise
with honey scent: U=21.5, p=0.679; honey scent: U=36, p=0.762;
bee noise with honey scent; control noise with honey scent: U=71,
p=1.000).
Elephants displayed different behavioural responses to each of the various
bee threat surrogates and control stimuli presented (Figure 1). Adult
and juvenile elephants exhibited a similar within-treatment behavioural
response. Mild disturbance behaviour responses and in some instances
no observable responses were recorded for all treatment trials except
for elephants exposed to the bee noise with honey scent treatment. All
elephants exposed to the bee noise with honey scent responded with a
cautious behaviour and 15 out of 21 individuals also fled.
Discussion
The most frequently observed response across all five treatments was an
attentive response and it is possible that these elephants were responding
to our presence and the vehicle. Cautious responses of elephants to
the buzzing bee noise with honey scent as compared with responses
to other treatments can be attributed to (1) elephants’ equal reliance
on both sound and scent as cues for assessing their surroundings13
and (2) the varying degrees of perceived danger associated with each
treatment. Elephants are sensitive to a wide range of sound frequencies
aided by their large ear size12 and they also equally rely on their sense
of smell to investigate the environment around them, as the olfactory
system in elephants is the primary processing site for chemical stimuli.13
Another parsimonious explanation, linked to danger perception, is that
elephants identified the treatment with the buzzing bee noise only as
passing bees, whereas they probably associated the bee noise and
honey scent treatment with an active beehive. Distinguishing between
a passing swarm and an active beehive seems to have impor tant
implications for dictating elephant responses, presumably because of
the greater inherent threat posed by encountering a hive as opposed
to a passing swarm.14 Elephants are more at risk of being stung if they
come in close contact with a beehive rather than just a passing swarm
because African bees are notoriously territorial and have large defensive
perimeters surrounding their hives.14,24 Therefore, elephants might be
wary of encountering a large hive where the risk of defensive attack by
bees protecting their territory is high.24
Contrary to our results that show a minimum response to bee sound
alone, King et al.9 reported that bee sound alone was enough to elicit
higher-level responses and also deter elephants in Samburu and Buffalo
Springs National Reserves in Kenya. Our results raise new questions
Table 2: Post-hoc comparisons of response levels between treatments using the two-tailed Kruskal–Wallis multiple comparisons test. The asterisks (*)
indicate p-values of treatment responses that were significantly different at a 95% confidence interval
Treatment
Bee noise Control noise with honey scent Honey scent Bee noise with honey scent
Control noise p=1.000 p=1.000 p=0.879 p=0.004*
Bee noise p=0.052 p=0.002* p=0.126
Control noise with honey scent p=1.000 p<0.001*
honey scent p<0.001*
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about what makes elephants in the Kruger different from elephants in
other places. One possible explanation for our results is that the high
density of elephants in the Kruger18 compared to elephant densities in
Kenyan reserves1 increases the likelihood of bee encounters in the South
African park. As a consequence of the increased probability of elephant
exposure to bees in the Kruger, the subjects in our study were potentially
familiarised with the sound and smell of live beehives, and therefore
better equipped with cues that indicate a realistic bee threat.
We concluded that the observed cautious behavioural responses from
elephants when exposed to our bee threat proxies provide strong
support for our hypothesis that these same elephants would be deterred
by a live bee threat. It therefore suggests that a treatment evoking both
the olfactory and auditory cues of a ‘bee threat’ is required to deter wild
elephants. The effectiveness of the mixed stimulus treatment can be
explained by the fact that the bee noise and honey scent treatment better
imitated the presence of an active beehive than the treatment with the bee
noise alone. The combination of sound and scent was a more realistic
representation of a bee threat, which elicited a greater response from
the elephants because: (1) elephants likely associated this combined
stimulus with the presence of an active beehive, which indicated a
greater threat to elephants than the sound of a passing swarm; and (2)
elephants rely on both auditory and olfactory cues to detect a threat.
Studies in Kenya have demonstrated the effectiveness of using beehive
fences to deter elephants from raiding farms and damaging large
trees.9,14 Our findings indicate that a similar innovation could also be
used to mitigate the humanelephant conflict on farms and in settlements
surrounding the Kruger (both in South Africa and Mozambique) and other
parts of southern Africa. In addition to aiding in humanelephant conflict
mitigation, apiculture (beekeeping) has potential benefits for sustainable
community-based conservation, particularly because honey harvesting
is a traditional practice in many African cultures.25 Aside from potentially
reducing losses from elephant raids, apiculture can provide employment
and income opportunities for communities through the production of
marketable products such as honey and wax.25,26
However, our study also points out one key limitation to the use of
bees to deter elephants. We know that elephant raids in most parts of
southern Africa (1) occur at night when temperatures are low and (2)
are prominent in winter when natural browse and graze opportunities
are at their minima.6 Unfortunately, most African honey bees tend
to be dormant (less active) at night and when temperatures are low.
Our findings therefore imply that the use of active (buzzing and scent
emitting) bees as recommended by King et al.9, may be seriously
mismatched with the timing of elephant raids. Perhaps the development
of some trigger mechanism to activate dormant bees when elephant
raids occur will remedy the problem.
Acknowledgements
We thank the Organisation for Tropical Studies and South African National
Parks (SANParks) for supporting this research. We are grateful to
Ceinwin Smith, Karen Vickers, Dax Mackay, Philip Mhlava, Donovan Tye,
Laurence Kruger, Alyssa Browning, Tyler Maddox, Cassandra Pestana
and David Purdy for their assistance with data collection. Lastly, we
wish to thank André Kotzé, the rest of the staff at Elephant Whispers
Sanctuary and the SANParks research assistants. Their time and helpful
insight into elephant behaviour is much appreciated.
Authors’ Contributions
M.N. designed the research. E.D., M.C., K.A., and A.R. collected and
analysed the data. All authors contributed equally to the writing of
the manuscript.
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Research Article Responses of African elephants towards a bee threat
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... Another common response was an interruption of other behaviors (freezing), typically expressed when elephants use their senses to locate or identify a threat. These findings are in line with studies describing African elephants to exhibit freezing and slow retreat behaviors when confronted with African bees (King, Douglas-Hamilton, & Vollrath, 2007;Ndlovu, Devereux, Chieffe, Asklof, & Russo, 2016), both indicators of subordination (De Silva, Schmid, & Wittemyer, 2017). Other exhibited attentive or alarmed behaviors were the spreading of ears (expression of alarm, excitement or surprise, Poole & Granli, 2009), flapping ears (Ndlovu et al., 2016), tail in the air (fearful, playful or excitement, Poole & Granli, 2009). ...
... These findings are in line with studies describing African elephants to exhibit freezing and slow retreat behaviors when confronted with African bees (King, Douglas-Hamilton, & Vollrath, 2007;Ndlovu, Devereux, Chieffe, Asklof, & Russo, 2016), both indicators of subordination (De Silva, Schmid, & Wittemyer, 2017). Other exhibited attentive or alarmed behaviors were the spreading of ears (expression of alarm, excitement or surprise, Poole & Granli, 2009), flapping ears (Ndlovu et al., 2016), tail in the air (fearful, playful or excitement, Poole & Granli, 2009). As bee stings are especially painful up the trunk, around the eyes and behind the ears (King, 2019), we specifically looked for behavior that would indicate elephants protecting these sensitive areas. ...
... Indeed, we observed elephants closing their eyes, putting their trunk in their mouth, and flapping their ears when attempting a fence break. Interestingly, our study showed that only 1.1% of the elephants responded to the bees with headshaking, which seems to be a more common reaction to bees in African elephants (King et al., 2007;Ndlovu et al., 2016;Soltis, King, Douglas-Hamilton, Vollrath, & Savage, 2014). However, our results are in line with the findings of a study in Sri Lanka that showed that none of the Asian elephants expressed head shaking as a response to bees . ...
Article
Full-text available
As human‐elephant conflict (HEC) increases, a better understanding of the human dimensions of these conflicts and non‐violent mitigation methods are needed to foster long‐term coexistence. In this study, we conducted household questionnaires (n = 296) to assess the prevalence of HEC and attitudes towards elephants in four rural villages in Thailand. In addition, we evaluated a pilot beehive fence as a sustainable solution for HEC. The majority of the households reported seeing or hearing elephants near their property at least once a week (84.9%) and experienced negative impacts from elephants in the last 5 years, (81.0%). The beehive fence deterred 88.4% of individual elephants (n = 155) and 64.3% of elephant groups (n = 28) that approached the fence. Most elephants (70.7%) exhibited behaviors suggesting heightened attentiveness or alarm. The farm owner reported economic and social benefits of the beehive fence. By contributing to farmer income and reducing crop damage caused by wild elephants, beehive fencing may provide an important locally‐managed complement to regional HEC mitigation methods.
... Problem animal control (PAC) in rural areas remains a big challenge in Africa especially in areas where a significant population of Africa elephants interact directly with local communities [1], [2]. A study conducted in Zimbabwe by Jones [3] revealed that African elephants cause the following damages: (i) crop damage -78%, (ii) threat to humans -9%, (iii) property damage -3%, and (iv) livestock predation -10%. ...
... To complement the existing PAC measures new deterrent cost effective and user friendly methods have been suggested [10]. The Apis mellifera adansoni may be a solution worth exploring, based on results from experimental pilot trials conducted in Zimbabwe [11], Kenya [12], [13] and South Africa [2]. The paper therefore appraised the potential of using honey bees to deter elephants and generate household income using bio-economic simulations. ...
... With that background, Karidozo and Osborn [11] argued that bees alone may not stop elephants from crop raiding. Similar conclusions were also forwarded by Ndlovu et al., [2], arguing that most elephant crop raids occur at night and prominently in winter when temperatures are low. The authors therefore conclude that during these times African honey bees will be dormant and unlikely to deter elephants unless there are some trigger mechanisms. ...
Article
Full-text available
Human-elephant conflicts in most African countries coincide in areas where poverty and natural resources are most profound. Although popularly believed to be an asset capable of generating consumptive and non-consumptive ecotourism revenue, African elephants are in some parts of Africa viewed as pests and predators worth eradicating as a result of high human-elephant conflicts (crop raiding, property damage, human and livestock predation). This has shifted the conservation debate to issues of how much biodiversity (elephants) can be saved in the face of suffering local communities. With that background, we tested the income and conservation premise of the biological bee-fence concept as a complementary problem animal control (PAC) measure from a rural setting where elephants interact with local poor communities using bio-economic simulations. We conclude that the biological bee-fence concept has a significant potential to deter elephants from invading surrounding communities' fields as well as generating the much needed household income. These findings reinforce the conservation and income premise of the biological bee-fence under a typical African rural setting worth up-scaling.
... The retreat response is an output of a trade-off between the advantages of the response (risk-avoidance) versus the costs (less time for beneficial activities such as feeding) [4]. In the case of the sound of bees, the elephants consistently retreat to this acoustic stimulus as they associate it with the risk of stinging [20,32,36,37]. In the case of human voices, elephants are more likely to retreat to Maasai men voices as they associate it with a higher threat [4]. ...
Article
African elephants ( Loxodonta africana ) use many sensory modes to gather information about their environment, including the detection of seismic, or ground-based, vibrations. Seismic information is known to include elephant-generated signals, but also potentially encompasses biotic cues that are commonly referred to as ‘noise’. To investigate seismic information transfer in elephants beyond communication, here we tested the hypothesis that wild elephants detect and discriminate between seismic vibrations that differ in their noise types, whether elephant- or human-generated. We played three types of seismic vibrations to elephants: seismic recordings of elephants (elephant-generated), white noise (human-generated) and a combined track (elephant- and human-generated). We found evidence of both detection of seismic noise and discrimination between the two treatments containing human-generated noise. In particular, we found evidence of retreat behaviour, where seismic tracks with human-generated noise caused elephants to move further away from the trial location. We conclude that seismic noise are cues that contain biologically relevant information for elephants that they can associate with risk. This expands our understanding of how elephants use seismic information, with implications for elephant sensory ecology and conservation management.
... However, such hives can be pushed over or broken by advancing elephants and may only be effective if the hive has high levels of bee activity (Vollrath and Douglas-Hamilton 2002;Ngama 2016). For these reasons, the effects of beehive fences may be short term (Nair and Jayson 2016) or perhaps even ineffective (Ndlovu et al. 2016). That being said, beehive fences have been found to deter elephants in study sites where there is sustained engagement from non-governmental organizations such as in Laikipia County, Kenya (see King et al. 2009King et al. , 2011. ...
Article
Full-text available
Both African elephants ( Loxodonta spp.) and the Asian elephant ( Elephas maximus ) across their range come into conflict with people because of their crop-raiding behavior, which presents profound impediments to farmer livelihoods. In response, a series of interventions, designed to reduce elephant crop raiding have been applied. Based on an extensive review of elephant crop-raiding studies published over a 31-year period, we identified four primary categories of interventions including: (i) detection efforts; (ii) preemptive measures; (iii) fencing and trenches; and (iv) deterrent techniques. The interventions reported to be most effective involved chili peppers (i.e., fences, spray, and briquettes) and crop guarding coupled with deterrents. The extent to which these interventions can be applied more widely is unclear as only two studies examined efficacy across sites in more than one country. Thus, future inquiry should evaluate the ability of effective interventions, or indeed a combination of interventions, to be applied across the range of elephants to reduce crop raiding at scale.
... Traditional methods devised by communities for deterring crop-raiding elephants such as the use of fires, brush fences, and loud noises have generally been unsuccessful (Ndlovu et al., 2016) requiring other methods to be used such as electric fencing. The use of electric fences and other barriers to prevent the movement of elephants into arable land are becoming increasingly vital conservation tools. ...
Chapter
Consumers are increasingly aware of the influence of diet on their health and require products that contribute to their well-being. The food security concept requires increased knowledge about minor components in the diet as micronutrients, vitamins, bioactive compounds together with fatty acids, which are naturally present in food and exert biological effects to improve human health. This chapter provides an insight into the physiological function of the body and the biochemical function of the fatty acids and polar lipids. It discusses the significance of health-related fatty acids, their presence in food and consumption, and how all these factors help in achieving food and nutrition security. In addition, an approach to some food processing and preservation technologies is presented.
... Beehive fences have proven to be more successful in reducing invasions, however, these have to be placed in strategic locations (key crossing locations) [6] and its length must be considered since the number of invasions tends to decrease in the presence of longer fences [17]. The success of this method does not focus only on the existence of the hive, but on the activity that occurs in it: the set of auditory and olfactory signals, such as the buzzing bee noise and the honey scent, can be more effective in triggering defensive and escape response on elephants [18]. ...
... Research has found that honey bees can be effectively used for deterring elephants from coming into human settlements [24]. Many researchers have reported that studies have shown that elephants are repelled by the sound of honey bees [25], [26]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Human elephant conflict has become one of major and serious problems for many countries in Asia and Africa. The conflict between humans and elephants have resulted in loss of human life and limbs as well as death of many elephants in these countries. The main reason for the escalation of this conflict is the loss of habitat of elephants that have been traditionally used by the animals for centuries. In recent times, humans have encroached into these areas for various reasons including looking for new lands for cultivation and living. Electric fences are commonly used world over to deter elephants from coming into villages and farmlands. Though, electric fences could effectively separate the animals from people, the elephants are found to enter the villages after breaking these fences. Once the fence is broken, there is no effective security as the elephants can enter and roam freely wherever it wants. In this paper, the author presents design and prototype implementation of smart elephant detection system that can alert people when an elephant approaches human settlements. The system was tested under limited laboratory environments and found that the concept is working and can be extended after a fully-fledged field testing.
... The context within which human-wildlife interactions take place may restrict or facilitate adopting proactive husbandry practices (Quigley et al., 2015), especially as it relates to the investment of limited resources and the perceived lack of alternatives. Context often becomes manageable with appropriate technology and creativity, and new preventive practices are constantly being developed (Chang'a et al., 2016;Dowdell & Palminteri, 2016;Ndlovu, Devereux, Chieffe, Asklof, & Russo, 2016). To inform practice, physical context should complement both social and biological factors assessing effectiveness of each innovation. ...
Article
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Motivating ranchers to adopt preventive husbandry practices that limit livestock depredation by large carnivores, such as jaguars (Panthera onca) and pumas (Puma concolor), requires reducing perceived barriers and increasing benefits associated with coexistence. We assessed stakeholder perspectives on preventive practices by conducting eight focus groups consisting of ranchers, researchers, and government wildlife officers in Costa Rica using a nominal group technique to identify and rank benefits, barriers, and motivations. We identified 29 benefits, 27 positive motivations, 33 negative motivations, and 20 barriers. Common responses among stakeholders highlight the importance of economic issues, contextual factors, and external support. However, social interactions, a reactive approach to management, and personal motivations also influence rancher decision making, but tend to be ignored by researchers and wildlife officers. Nominal group rankings reveal misunderstandings and misalignment of priorities among stakeholders that should be targeted by collaborative problem-solving processes. Motivations behind prevention expose nuances of human–wildlife conflict.
Chapter
Despite concerted efforts to improve food and nutrition security in many parts of the world, food and nutrition security still remains a challenge, especially in developing countries. In the face of the increasing human population that depends on agriculture and natural resources, the need to conserve wildlife becomes even more urgent. Without policies geared toward conservation and implementation of biodiversity-friendly agriculture, many rural dwellers in wildlife conservation areas will continue to experience food and nutrition insecurity and poverty. Due to human–wildlife conflicts (HWCs), some of the wildlife will become extinct. In this chapter, attempts to link food and nutrition security to wildlife conservation using case studies from Kenya are made. In Kenya, various policies and programs have been implemented to protect wildlife and reduce HWCs as wildlife conservation is necessary because wildlife tourism contributes immensely to the Kenyan economy. Concerted efforts need to be focused on addressing threats and opportunities that result from wildlife conservation and management in the country for the future prosperity of Kenyans.
Thesis
Asian elephants utilize two chemical signals that have been described to function in reproduction: (1) (Z)-7-dodecenyl acetate (Z7-12:Ac) is released by females near ovulation, and (2) frontalin is released by males around the time of musth. Signaling theory posits that the concentration at which either compound is emitted should have implications for the response of the receiver, varying with factors such as sex and reproductive experience. Here, the objectives were to: (1) investigate the effect of concentration on receiver chemosensory behavior in an effort to identify detection thresholds and concentrations of maximum response for reproductively experienced or inexperienced male and female Asian elephants, and (2) characterize the broader behavioral impacts of each of these compounds in an effort for application as environmental enrichment in captive settings. Concentrations from 0.0 mM to 2.0 mM of both frontalin and Z7-12:Ac were bioassayed simultaneously with captive elephants housed at facilities across North America in two experiments: one that tested mid-range concentrations and a second that tested low and high concentrations. There was a general increase in chemosensory response with increasing concentration of both compounds regardless of sex or reproductive experience. Females exhibited a lower detection threshold for frontalin, and the opposite was true for males with Z7-12:Ac. Reproductive experience also influenced thresholds: inexperienced males had a higher threshold than experienced males for frontalin (the same was true for females), and experienced males were able to detect Z7-12:Ac samples as low as 10–7 mM. Aside from inexperienced males, all elephants responded maximally to the 1.0 mM samples of both compounds. Elephants exposed to mid-range concentrations of either compound showed no notable changes in behavior after application of the signals, although inexperienced males spent less time inactive and more time walking after frontalin bioassays, and inexperienced females foraged more after exposure to Z7-12:Ac. Interpreted together, this suggests that the concentration at which either compound is emitted has strong implications for chemosensory response based on the identity of the receiver in Asian elephants, although it is unclear whether these compounds have other behavioral effects that can be targeted for a goal-oriented olfactory enrichment program.
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Landscape heterogeneity may influence ranging behaviour of mammals. Here we relate the home range size of elephants living in the Kruger National Park to the number of patches, proportion of each patch, spatial arrangement of patches, patch shape, and contrast between neighbouring patches. Home range sizes decreased exponentially with an increase in the number of patches per 100 km2 and the home range sizes of bulls were in general more strongly related to measures of heterogeneity. This may reflect differences in perception of heterogeneity between the sexes. Il se peut que la hétérogénéité du paysage agisse sur le comportement des mammifères au pâturage. Dans cette étude nous associons la taille des domaines vitaux des éléphants résidant dans le Parc National de Kruger au nombre de parcelles et leurs dimensions, disposition spatiale et forme, ainsi que le contraste entre des parcelles avoisinantes. La taille des domaines vitaux diminua exponentiellement avec l'augmentation dans le nombre de parcelles par 100 km2 alors que les domaines vitaux des mâles furent plus fortement associés aux mesures d'hétérogénéité en général. Cela est peut être dû aux différences au niveau de la perception d'hétérogénéité entre les sexes.
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Recorded incidence of conflict between humans and elephants, in particular crop-raiding, is increasing in rural Africa and Asia, undermining efforts to conserve biological diversity. Gaining an understanding of the underlying determinants of human–elephant conflict is important for the development of appropriate management tools. This study analysed crop-raiding by African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Laikipia District, covering 9700 km2 in north-central Kenya to identify spatial determinants of crop-raiding by elephants at different spatial extents. On average crop-raiding incidents occurred within 1.54 km of areas of natural habitat where elephants could hide by day undisturbed by human activities (‘daytime elephant refuges’). The occurrence of crop-raiding was predicted by settlement density, distance from daytime elephant refuges and percentage of cultivation. However the relationship between crop-raiding and six candidate variables varied with sampling extent, with some variables diminishing in importance at a finer spatial scale. This suggests a tiered approach to human-elephant conflict management, with different interventions to address factors important at different spatial scales. Our results show that small-scale farms are particularly vulnerable to crop-raiding at settlement densities below approximately 20 dwellings per km2, above which crop-raiding declines. Land-use planning is therefore critical in preventing settlement patterns that leave farms vulnerable to crop-raiding by elephants. Where human–elephant conflict exists, efforts should focus on identifying and managing elephant refuges, through the use of electrified fences where resources are sufficient to construct, maintain and enforce them. This approach has been adopted for mitigating human–elephant conflict in Laikipia and with a major investment in resources and human capital it has been successful. Where such resources and human capital are not available then efforts should instead focus on the application of farm-based deterrents among vulnerable farms.
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Human-elephant conflict, in particular the damage caused by elephants to smallholder crops, is a major challenge to the conservation of African elephant Loxodonta africana. Conventional tools used to address this problem are capital intensive and require high levels of expertise. In recent years simple, affordable farm-based elephant deterrents, using locally available materials, have been encouraged by a number of human-elephant conflict researchers. There are very few published studies demonstrating the performance of these deterrents, however, and little is known about levels of uptake among smallholder farmers. We trialled a number of such farm-based elephant deterrents with local farmers in three sites within Laikipia District, Kenya. Levels of crop raiding declined after the introduction of treatments but not significantly when compared with control farms. Variable levels of uptake among the participating farmers made it difficult to draw clear conclusions from the trials. However, participating farmers were positive about the deterrent effect of the tools introduced, corroborated by their willingness to make financial commitments towards sustaining future trials. Availability of household labour, local politics, and insecurity were identified as important barriers to uptake of some of the deterrents introduced. Household labour availability should be a key consideration in future endeavours to trial farm-based elephant deterrents.
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Crop raiding by elephants is the most prevalent form of human–elephant conflict and can result in devastating economic losses for farmers, loss of human lives and the killing or capture of elephants. Chilli (capsaicin)-based elephant deterrents have been promoted as tools for reducing such conflict but have been little tested. From October 2005 to April 2006 we tested crop-guarding systems around Way Kambas National Park in Indonesia. We evaluated the effectiveness of community-based guarding using traditional tools (e.g. noise-makers) at one site and community-based guarding plus chilli-grease-covered fences and tripwire-triggered sirens at another site. We monitored human–elephant conflict rates around the Park to assess the effectiveness of our mitigation trials. Over the trial period there were 34 attempts by elephants to enter crop fields at the chilli and sirens site and 57 attempts to enter fields at the conventional site but 91.2% of attempts were repelled successfully at both sites. Over the same period there were 401 crop-raiding incidents elsewhere around the Park. In 2007 farmers at both our former sites voluntarily adopted the methods that had been used at the conventional site, but not at the chilli and sirens site, and were able to repel 156 of 178 (87.6%) attempted elephant raids. We conclude that community-based guarding using conventional tools is the key to keeping elephants out of crops and that chilli-grease fences (and sirens) do not add any significant deterrent effect but do add expense and create additional work. However, other chilli-based deterrents may be effective and chillies have value as elephant-resistant cash crops.
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The elephant population in Kruger National Park, Republic of South Africa, is growing rapidly. To prevent damage to the Park's ecosystems, the management has culled about 7% of the population annually. Such culls are very controversial. At first glance, contraceptives seem an attractive alternative means of control. We examine contraception as a management option, review the relevant aspects of elephant reproduction, physiology and demography and conclude that this optimism is probably misplaced. First, contraceptives have a wide range of physiological and behavioural side-effects that may prove to be damaging to the individual female and those around her. Second, the elephants in the Park have near-maximal growth rates with inter-calving intervals of less than four years. To achieve zero population growth, about three-quarters of the adult female elephants would need to be on contraceptives. There are no simple alternatives. The smallest numerical target for controlling population numbers is to kill or sterilize females about to become pregnant for the first time. Such a solution is unlikely to appease those who consider killing elephants to be unethical. It may, however, be the one closest to the natural patterns of elephant mortality.
Article
Elephants’ vocalizations and movements have recently been shown to produce seismic waves(Rayleigh waves). This may be relevant for the well-known long-distance communication of these animals. It is suggested here that elephants may sense ground vibrations as a result of bone conduction producing a differential vibration of the middle ear ossicles in relation to the skull. This hypothesis is supported by the exceptionally massive ossicles of the Indian and African elephants. The acoustics of bone conduction is reviewed and related to the anatomy of the elephant middle ear.
Article
African elephants face an uncertain future. Politics, war, sustained media campaigns, corrupt, weak or absent institutions supporting conservation, land-use planning or general governance, and greed are all bringing elephants into direct conflict with humans. Although elephant populations have declined considerably relative to their historical size and range, human populations have expanded to occupy and intensively use remaining elephant areas. Strategies to minimize perceptions of conflict and the implementation of land-use planning with biodiversity protection as its goal could help to sustain at least some populations of elephants. Here, we review threats to elephants, with an emphasis on those resulting from human perceptions of conflict, and suggest some mechanisms for grappling with these threats.