Malawi Beehive Fences
Kasungu Elephant Foundation was founded by Remke Lasance in 2015. The foundation developed from disbelief that there were still 200-300 elephants reportedly left surviving in the Kasungu National Park. Remke completed an identification survey and concluded there were only 59 elephants remaining from a population of 1000 in the seventies.
The Mndaka village had settled in the buffer zones, due to illegal selling of areas of land. There is a 10km electric fence, but the park is 2316km², so where the fence stops the elephants cross the boundary.
People are living and farming in the buffer zone, the elephants are familiar with being able to go into this area because they always have done, and now they find the farmers crops and are tempted to crop raid. Human elephant conflict has of course followed as the community are furious with the elephants for eating their maize and other crops, and threaten to hurt and kill elephants for “trespassing”.
Instead of extending the fence which is costly and the wire is at risk for being used for snares, Remke discovered our Elephants and Bees Project which uses beehive fences as a peaceful, income generating elephant deterrent. In March 2016 the project was approved! The name of the beehive club is: Mwayiwathu , this means “our luck” or “our opportunity”. By April 2016 the beehive fence was built along the boundary, the Prince Bernhard Nature Fund donated the first 60 hives (approx. 600 meters of fence). Some hives were occupied immediately and the elephants were seen to follow the beehive fence and cross where the fence stopped.
Further funding allowed another 600 meters of beehive fence to be built, this went up to a river and provided protection to the whole village and the elephants now stay inside the park. The Mndaka community additionally go inside Kasungu for water and to chop firewood illegally. This is risky for both people and wildlife. As a result the foundation has assisted the village in a vegetable garden and a mushroom project. The community can now generate income and no longer have to go inside the park! The maize waste after farming are cleared and used in the mushroom project – further benefiting the community. For these projects water is desperately needed – fortuitously the project received a generous donation from the Elephant Ignite Expedition who saw the need for these projects and donated funds for a borehole and water pump.
“If I could only save 1 elephant a year from this human-wildlife conflict, I would do it! That’s why I came up with the idea of a natural fence, of bee hives. In Kenya this method is already successful.”
– Remke Lasance founder of Kasungu Elephant foundation
The Kasungu Elephant Foundation was handed over in 2017 to Charles who works for Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi – a local NGO – and the Mndaka Community but it will continue to be supervised by Remke. The aim was always to hand the project over to the community to own. A great implication for the Kasungu Elephant Foundation is the lack of water which is vital for all the projects and activities.