In a novel move to control elephant-human conflict in Karnataka’s coffee-growing district Kodagu, the government of India has come up with an innovative plan to use bees to keep away the tuskers. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission on Monday rolled out the plan for the pilot project, which has been titled ‘RE-HAB’ and proposes to create ‘bee fences’ around the district to control the rising numbers of animal-human conflict.
Wild elephant attacks are a common nuisance in Kodagu, which also sees a number of elephant deaths each year. To mitigate the conflict, the KVIC in Bengaluru has launched the ‘RE-HAB’ project, which is estimated to cost Rs 15 lakh, Hindustan Times reported. RE-HAB means ‘Reducing Elephant-Human Attacks with Bees’.
The area around the Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve is known to be an active elephant-human conflict zone. At present, four such bee-fence projects have been started near the Chelur village.
There were over 6,000 elephants in Karnataka at the end of the last count in 2017. Data from the state forest department shows that human-animal conflict has been on the rise. In 20-21, as many as 17,561 such instances were recorded. The number was 16,314 in 2019-20. Such conflict usually take the shape of cattle and livestock attack or destruction of crops as well as human injuries and loss of life.
As part of the project, the KVIC provided 50 beneficiaries with bee colonies and beekeeping equipment in a bid to promote apiculture. Launching the project, at the Ponnampet Forestry College, KVIC Chairman Vinay Kumar Saxena encouraged beekeeping locally for income as well.
Just a day ago, a car carrying five persons was attacked by a wild tusker. While the five managed to miraculously escape, the car was pummelled by the wild animal.
“We are finding a physical solution to an ecological problem. Nature must work with nature and the RE-HAB will work at a low cost,” KVIC official Dr Sudarshan was reported by The New Indian Express.
If successful, the project will be implemented in other parts of the country that face elephant-human conflict.