Assam human-elephant conflict
Credit: EastMojo Image

New Delhi: Project RE-HAB, which uses honey bee boxes as fences to keep elephants away, has successfully helped reduce conflicts between humans and the animal without causing any harm, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) said on Saturday.

Announcing the success of the project launched on March 15, the KVIC added that it will be replicated in states reporting elephant attacks on human habitation.

“At a time when state governments are spending crores of rupees on digging trenches and creating other physical barriers to prevent elephant attacks, KVIC’s innovative Project RE-HAB (Reducing Human Elephant Attacks using Bees) has proven to be an extremely cost-effective and harmless way of reducing human-elephant conflicts,” the commission said in a statement.

Its chairman, Vinai Kumar Saxena, said trenches, rail fencing, spiked pillars, electric fences and electric wire curtains are not only ineffective but has also ended up killing elephants in the most tragic ways.

“Project RE-HAB, on the other hand, is cost-effective and causes no harm to the elephants. It will also have multi-pronged benefits. This will reduce human-elephant conflicts, increase farmers’ income through beekeeping, address climate change, regenerate forest cover and ensure food security for wild animals in their natural habitats,” he added, urging state governments to implement it.

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The KVIC said the project assumes significance in the light of the escape of an elephant that fell into a muddy trench in Siddapura village in Karnataka’s Kodagu district (Coorg) recently.

“The viral video of the rescue operation, however, shows the elephant was annoyed as he came out of the trench and bumped his head into the JCB excavator to express his agitation before he was shooed away by bursting a firecracker,” it said.

Apart from Karnataka, states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are severely affected by wild elephant attacks.

Using bee boxes as a fence to prevent elephants from entering a human habitation is effective as the animals generally fear that the honey bees might sting them in the eyes and the inner side of the trunk.

Also, the buzz of the bees irritates the elephants, the KVIC said.

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