When elephants flee from bees – knowledge

African elephants can uproot entire trees, are considered to be highly intelligent and, simply because of their size – savannah elephants are almost four meters high, the significantly smaller forest elephants at least two – have hardly any natural enemies. But there’s something the giant beasts are really scared of: bees.

It is not known exactly why this is so, but in fact there is something frightening about African bees: they attack at the slightest disturbance, and all together, not just a few at a time like the European honey bee. In addition, the aggressive swarms of hundreds of insects have the unpleasant trait of persistently pursuing their victims.

If African elephants When they notice that they have gotten close to a beehive, they often start frantically wagging their ears, make startled noises and retreat as quickly as possible. Again and again it was observed that the animals whirled up dust and covered themselves with it. You seem to know that bee stings are extremely painful, especially in the sensitive parts of the proboscis, in the mouth, or around the eyes.

The frightened bull elephant pulls back his trunk and flees

Animal rights activists now want to use the elephants’ fear of bees to keep the elephants away from humans. Because in many African countries it is a big problem that the protected animals come close to villages, destroy entire harvests and, in extreme cases, even kill people. Conversely, farmers shoot elephants to protect their crops or themselves.

In order to avoid confrontation between humans and wild elephants, the British animal protection organization Wild Survivors has developed the “Buzz Box” which can be hung near villages and fields to deter elephants. The device is equipped with a motion detector and plays the sound of a startled swarm of bees for half a minute when an elephant or other animal comes near.

A video from Liberia recently recorded by elephant conservationists shows that it serves its purpose: You can see a forest elephant bull happily filling his stomach. When he gets near fields, he triggers a buzz box that has been hung there as a deterrent. At the sound of the bees going wild, the big animal pulls in its trunk as if startled, retreats a few steps and seems to listen for a moment as if it couldn’t believe its ears. Then the bull hastily retreats.

Rock carvings discovered in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province suggest that humans have long since noticed the great elephants’ fear of the little bees. The first scientific publication on this was in 2002. At that time, Maasai in Kenya had alerted scientists to the fact that elephants leave trees in which bee colonies live in peace.

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