Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched a project aimed at reducing elephant-human conflict in Assam using bees, nine months after the project was initiated in Karnataka. Project RE-HAB, which stands for Reducing Elephant-Human Attacks using Bees, has fences created by setting up bee boxes on the passageways of elephants to block their entrance to human territories. The boxes are connected with a string so that when elephants attempt to pass through, a tug or pull causes the bees to swarm the elephant herds and dissuade them from progressing further, said KVIC chairman V K Saxena.
Project RE-HAB was first launched in Karnataka in March this year. Recently, the project was launched by KVIC chairman V K Saxena in Mornoi village of Goalpara district, Assam, a region marred with elephant-human conflicts. He called the project to be a sustainable solution to prevent prevalent human-elephant conflicts in Assam.
“Project RE-HAB has been a great success in Karnataka, so it has been launched in Assam with greater efficiency and better technical knowhow. I am hopeful that the project would contain elephant attacks in the coming months and bring the local villagers back to their farms. At the same time, the bee boxes distributed by KVIC to these farmers will add to their income through beekeeping,” V K Saxena added.
A total of 330 interspersed bee boxes will be placed at Mornoi and Dahikata villages in a week’s time to ward off elephants. These bee boxes have been given to 33 farmers and educated youths of these villages by KVIC whose families have been affected by elephants. Crop-raiding by elephants in these villages are reported almost every day for 9-10 months a year. The menace is so severe that villagers, over the last few years, have stopped cultivation fearing elephant attacks. These villages have abundant production of paddy, litchi and jackfruit that attract elephants. Under Project RE-HAB, high-resolution, night-vision cameras have been installed at strategic points to record the impact of bees on elephants and their behaviour in these zones.