The researchers found that a significant majority of African elephants fled immediately after hearing the sound of bees, providing "strong support" for the idea that bees, and perhaps even their buzz alone, might keep elephants at bay. By contrast, the elephants ignored a control recording of natural white-noise, the authors reported.
"We weren't surprised that they responded to the threatening sound of disturbed bees, as elephants are intelligent animals that are intimately aware of their surroundings, but we were surprised at how quickly they responded to the sounds by running away," said Lucy King of the University of Oxford. "Almost half of our study herds started to move away within 10 seconds of the bee playback." King is also affiliated with Save the Elephants, a Kenya-based organization that aims to secure a future for elephants.
Earlier studies had suggested that elephants prefer to steer clear of bees. For instance, one report showed that elephant damage to acacia trees hosting occupied or empty beehives was significantly less than in trees without hives, the researchers said. In Zimbabwe, scientists have also seen elephants forging new trails in an effort to avoid beehives.
In the new study, the researchers tested the response of several well-known elephant families in Kenya to the digitally recorded buzz of disturbed African bees. Sixteen of the 17 families tested left their resting places under trees within 80 s of hearing the bee sound, the researchers reported, and half responded within just 10 seconds. Among elephants hearing the control sound, none had moved after 10 s, and only four families had moved after 80 s. By the end of the 4 min sound playback of bee buzz, only one elephant family had failed to move, whereas eight families hearing the control sound had not moved.
This behavioral discovery suggests that bees might very well be a valuable addition to the toolbox of elephant deterrents used by farmers and conservation managers across Kenya, King said. She added that such innovative approaches are sorely needed "to avoid extreme solutions such as shooting problem animals."
She cautioned that the use of beehives to shoo elephants away might prove to have limited application and that more research is needed if we are to understand its effectiveness. "But if we could use bees to reduce elephant crop raiding and tree destruction while at the same time enhancing local income through the sale of honey, this could be a significant and valuable step towards sustainable human-elephant coexistence.”
Nancy Wampler | EurekAlert!
Decoding the genome's cryptic language
27.02.2017 | University of California - San Diego
New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.
On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences
27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research
27.02.2017 | Life Sciences