Using Bees to Keep Elephants From Eating Your Crops

In November the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS) will meet in Bergen, Norway to discuss and hopefully improve conservation issues for animals around the world. The CMS also presents an award for the best PhD thesis on migrating animals and I was very privileged to be a part of the international jury which met to deliberate on this recently in Bonn, Germany.

We had more than 60 excellent thesis presented which we narrowed down to a shortlist of 14. All kinds of migrating animals were covered - from birds to sharks, turtles to dugongs - the one sad thing each species had in common is that they were all threatened.

After much deliberation, as the standard of the thesis was extremely high, we finally agreed that one thesis stood out. This stand-out was a highly unusual scientific yet completely natural solution to the question of human-animal conflict..

As it turns out, elephants are frightened of bees. Our winner, Dr Lucy King from Oxford University, used this natural pachyderm fear to develop a unique beehive fence which helps people protect their crops from migrating elephants. I, and my colleagues extend our congratulations to Lucy for demonstrating that creative scientific solutions can be developed which will protect animals and allow us to live in harmony with them. -- RS

Read more about Dr Lucy King's work at her web site: http://www.elephantsandbees.com

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