A Hands on Experience at Elephants and Bees!
Report from Kenyan Intern, Lilian Sailepu
My ten-week internship with Elephants & Bees has been very hands on. I was in charge of the camera traps (note; in charge) this doesn’t happen often being an intern. Internships are mostly made up of being appointed menial tasks that need to be completed, making me feel very lucky to have been given so much responsibility and control during my time with Elephants & Bees.
Being in control of the camera traps meant I was responsible for the 18 cameras that are distributed amongst five farms located in both our Mwambiti and Mwakoma villages. We attach the camera traps to trees or stakes located in areas that are especially vulnerable and we use the images caught on the camera to spy on what animals are visiting the farms. Some of the cameras have been set to night mode meaning they only capture photos at nighttime, while others would take photos during the day and night. I would then download the photos from each camera trap every 10 days, this is the most magical part of the process as you never know what to expect! The cameras capture any movement that occurs in front of it, most commonly we capture pictures of duiker, dikdik, spotted hyena, mongoose, ardwold, olive baboons, birds, common genet and last but not least crop raiding elephants. The picture below was captured by the camera trap at Nashon’s farm at 6.53pm on the 5th February 2016. I was so happy to receive this photo, such clear and defined shots are rare to find on the camera traps!
Apart from doing the camera trap work, I helped with bee hive fence monitoring in Mwambiti village, the highlight of this for me was my involvement in constructing a new beehive fence for Daudi. Daudi’s farm borders Sagala Lodge sanctuary; meaning that he frequently receives visits from elephants. The first time we discussed our intentions of putting a beehive fence at Daudi’s farm he was over the moon. He said since he had started farming there, ten years ago, he has never been able to sleep peacefully because he is constantly in fear of his crops being raided by the elephants. Thanks to the Della for so generously donating the fifteen hives that we have hung up at Daudi’s farm to create his beehive fence. I hope now he will be able to sleep well without worrying about crop raiding elephants.
I was also involved with harvesting and processing the Elephant-friendly honey and making candles and lipbams from wax, such a unique and exciting experience!!
I have found my internship at Elephants and Bees to be a thoroughly rewarding experience. The project has given me hands on work experience; I learnt how to construct a beehive fence which is being used as a natural method to deter crop raiding elephants from entering the farms. Farmers are also able to produce honey from the hives on their beehive fence, making it a very intelligent way of conserving elephants and the kind of solution that is so needed in areas prevalent with human elephant conflict. I am truly thankful that I was able to have had such an opportunity to learn from such experienced and supportive people. Hanging out with other interns in the camp who are talented, passionate and hilarious people makes it hard to leave this place, I know the contacts I have made with everyone involved in the project will be beneficial to me in the future. I will carry what I learned during my internship to all of my future endeavors. Bye Bye Elephants and Bees Research Center!