Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is a complex and pervasive problem that occurs throughout the range of the African elephant wherever elephants and people share the same habitat, often competing for the same resources. With an increase in agricultural expansion, there is now an escalation in crop-raiding by elephants. By working together with communities, elephant organizations are discovering ways to help bridge the gap between man and elephant.
Can elephants and humans live together?
Ways to reduce Human-Elephant Conflict:
- Fencing is increasingly used to separate humans and wildlife, but some elephants learn that their tusks do not conduct electricity and use them to break through even electric fences.
- To discourage further fence-breaking at one South African elephant sanctuary, a manager developed a “tusk brace,” a stiff wire glued into a small groove in each tusk that conducts the electricity from the tip to the more sensitive base beneath the animal’s lip.
- The braces reduced break-throughs by the repeat offenders, with no observable negative effects, though their use may be most appropriate with animals that are monitored regularly.
- As development expands into previously natural areas, keeping such fences maintained, for the safety of both people and elephants, may become an unfortunate necessity.
Elephants and Bees – How beehive fences help elephants and farmers:
Elephants are not scared of mice, but they sure are of bees! And, for good reason. Elephants, despite their thick skin and imposing heft, are terrified of bees. When elephants disturb a beehive, they trigger its defensive swarming response, which often leads to bees stinging the sensitive tissue inside their trunks. Being such intelligent animals, elephants have learned to associate bees with excruciating nose pain. Hence, farmers have benefitted largely by instilling beehives on their farms, which is a natural and safe way to keep elephants away from their crops.