Beehive fences offer sustainable, non-violent solutions to Human-Elephant conflict by playing on elephants' deep fear of bees. Elephants are deathly afraid of bees and even have a special sound that warns each other there are bees near, scram! These honey producing fences keep wild elephants from raiding people's homes, destroying crops, leaving costly damage, sometimes death, in their wake. The beehive fences are sustainable and profitable, giving farmers a new crop and a new source of income. The bees pollinate the neighbouring fields and the crops report higher yields. Truly an all around win-win solution.
The beehive fence was first developed in Africa by Dr. Lucy King, used as an example and in September 2016, implemented at Ms. Kung's family farm in Chantaburi, Thailand. Chantaburi has severe HEC issues with death tolls rising on both sides. After 8 months and several honey harvests later, the beehive fence is working. No elephants have been seen on her property for months. Her family can now relax and sleep peacefully once again. Kung has also learned a new trade and become a skilled beekeeper caring for over 80 beehive boxes, all earning good income.
The first beehive fences in Thailand were installed by Mrs. Rachaya “Pom” Arkajak, Thai scientist and lead Park Ranger at Phualang Wildlife Research Station in Loei province. In 2015, she met wild elephant conservationist, Antoinette VanDeWater online, while both were researching beehive fences in Africa. They immediately teamed up with Antoinette's Bring the Elephant Home foundation, Pom's staff of park rangers, the local community and the many volunteers between them. Together they raised money, awareness, hopes and the first beehive fences in Chantaburi, where the HEC is most severe. And it worked.
This is a story of the beehive fence project and the 3 remarkable women from vastly different worlds who joined forces to change the world. They solved a deadly problem with non-violence, collaboration, perseverance and ingenuity. They are real life heroes, exemplary women of Thailand, and role models for us all.
(Women of Thailand: True Stories) Work in progress. Documenting since Dec 2015 to present. Short video, documentary film and photo essay in the works.
photos by Ana Grillo © 2017