Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nothing but A Little Buzzing To Send Elephants Running

The African elephant’s natural habitat is decreasing substantially year to year due to agricultural reasons. As a result to the elephants decreasing habitat these animals are raiding farmer’s crops while marauding in search of natural resources. So researchers such as Lucy King and her colleagues of the University of Oxford, are investigating ways to prevent these raids from devastating Africa’s crops and future nourishment of the population.

Researchers have found a stunning effect that the southern Africa bee has on elephants. Lucy King and her team recorded the native bee’s aggressive buzzing and hid speakers in trees and brush around natural resting areas of the elephant. The team discovered that the recordings drove away seventeen elephant families in the resting area only after ten seconds of the native bee’s buzzing. By eighty seconds of the aggressive bee buzzing all but one family of elephants went running from the resting area.

The southern Africa’s native bee is know for its aggressive and chase antagonists ways, explaining why elephants go running when they hear the bee’s buzzing. Most of an elephant’s skin is thick to withstand a sting but curtain areas such as the belly, behind the ears, eyes, and inside the elephant’s trunk are vulnerable to the bee’s sting. If you’ve ever been stung its best to stick with the elephants intuition of, getting up and run!

But these farmers aren’t out of the woods yet. Equipment for recording and translating sound is expensive to place in the natural habitat and without the reinforcement of actual bee’s the elephants could learn to ignore the buzzing. Simply just moving native bee’s hives to resting areas is impractical due to the difficulty, danger, expense, and that some bee’s are actually inactive at night when most raiding have been accruing.

So researchers are still testing this theory along with others to find a solution to these raiding. But what a sight it must have been, to see an elephant running to escape the buzzing bee.


Posted by: Rachel McMahon (3)


At 3:48 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This is an interesting idea and it seems like it could help a bit. But I also wonder if the elephants would eventually get used to the sound and ignore it because they are capable of learning many things. I also don't see this as an appropriate solution to the real cause of the problem which is the loss of the elephant's habitat. Scaring elephants away from farms will save crops, but it won't really give the elephants anywhere better to go.

Posted by: Gina Sciartilli (3)


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