Opening of our Research Center
Blog by Dr Lucy King, Elephants and Bees Project Leader
I’m very happy to pass on the news that The Elephants and Bees Research Center in Sagalla is officially opened! We had a fantastic day on Thursday after lots of preparations such as goat buying, pilau making, agenda planning and blowing up of balloons. About 150 parents and visitors from all around the Sagalla mountain came and along with 70 children from the primary school we had over 200 people attend our party. Local NGO partners sent representatives so we had friends from Wildlife Works, Malewa Trust, Kileva Foundation and the Tsavo Trust. Simon Trevor also popped in and generously dropped off some of his bee films for our library from his African Environmental Film Foundation.
The event was lucky enough to be presided over by the District Education Officer for Voi, Mr Machora, and he was very encouraging about the project and told the community not to kill elephants as now they had one good solution to human-elephant conflict! Due to his presence we had a lot of press there from Nation, Standard, Citizen TV etc. We had MANY speeches by visiting politicians and Dr Joseph Soltis from Disney’s Animal Kingdom gave a very nice speech as one of our major donors to the project. I was careful to thank everyone who had helped on site and/or donated to the project build including The Rufford Foundation, The St Andrews Prize for the Environment, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, The James Ford Bell Foundation and Save the Elephants.
The center is going to be a base for all our project activities: beehive fence monitoring and maintenance, honey production and jarring, research into elephant corridors around the communities to understand HEC behaviour better, pollination ecology research, community environmental training and education and a place for interns and students to be housed safely. Its really exciting that its up and running and Joseph, Ike and I are enjoying using it as a base for our elephant behaviour work in Tsavo at the moment. We have had some terrific thunderstorms recently and so far the roof is holding up well, no leaking as yet and our gutters are collecting lots of lovely free rainwater!