Beehive fences as effective deterrents for crop-raiding elephants: Field trials in northern Kenya
King LE., Douglas-Hamilton I., Vollrath F.
Increasing elephant populations in Kenya since 1989 have been widely praised as a conservation success story. However, where elephants and agricultural land overlap, incidents of human-elephant conflict are on the increase. Wildlife managers and farmers are now trying different farm-based deterrents to keep elephants out of crops. Here, we present data on the effectiveness of a novel beehive fence deployed in a Turkana community of 62 communally run farms in Kenya. Specifically, 1700m of beehive fences semi-surrounded the outer boundaries of seventeen farms, and we compared elephant farm invasion events with these and to seventeen neighbouring farms whose boundaries were 'protected' only by thorn bush barriers. We present data from 45 farm invasions, or attempted invasions, recorded over 2years. Thirteen groups of elephants approached the beehive fences and turned away. Of the 32 successful farm invasions, only one bull elephant broke through the beehive fences. These results demonstrate that beehive fences are more effective than thorn bush barriers at deterring elephants and may have a role to play in alleviating farmer-elephant conflict. Additionally, the harvesting of 106kg of honey during the trial period suggests that beehive fences may also improve crop production and enhance rural livelihoods through honey sales. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.