The Future of Wildlife Lies in Our Hands.
Report from Kenyan Intern, Patrick Kimaita
It has been a month since I arrived at the Elephants and Bees Research Center, and time has really slipped away. I am very excited to be in the right place that will eventually help me to achieve my objective of creating an awareness of the human-elephant conflict. There are many humane ways of being able to live in harmony with wildlife, especially with elephants. Often it is an uphill battle due to people’s negative attitudes regarding human wildlife coexistence. I have always focused on how to build a peaceful coexistence between humans and wildlife by providing and coming up with up to date measures and strategies for mitigating human wildlife conflict, using scientific research, community participation and innovation we are able to scale up peaceful coexistence in the affected communities. I can now say that I have found the answer, since this is what happens at the Elephants and Bees Research center, Kudos to Dr. Lucy King for making this happen.
Living with elephants has always presented a great challenge amongst communities practicing agriculture. Personally, before venturing into conservation my views of wildlife were also negative; I saw them as a great menace. This motivated me to learn how to deal with wildlife, and to ensure we cater for both the community and wildlife’s welfare. Research wise I did a survey on the effects of electric fences on wildlife and community welfare around the Aberdare National Park. Findings were somewhat impressive to the farmers as the electric fence confined wildlife in an ‘Island’ which eventually would harm the genetic aspects of future generations. Farmer’s welfare was an added benefit as less crop raids were reported. This motivated my curiosity of trying to get new ways of having a deterrent that would be wildlife and community friendly. The Elephants and Bees project does not only ensure Elephants have safe paths for foraging, but also benefits the farmer by producing honey. This is quite impressive!
The time I have spent at the Elephants and Bees Research Center has been very engaging, and ensured that I get a hands on experience and knowledge, which I will be able to take back home to benefit my community and eventually marry the idea that we can live comfortably with elephants. Recently I have been involved in monitoring the beehive fences, harvesting honey, and fencing two new farms (Ngwale and Phelicia) with the beehive fences. It’s very exciting having bees buzz around us, investigating their new homes. Thank you to those that donated the hives, the farmers are very accommodating, excited and engaged in the project. This was affirmed by a recent meeting that took place, I realized here that the communities have heartily accepted the project and demonstrate a willingness to be more involved as they have seen the benefits the project produces. Credit goes to Dr Lucy King and the whole team for ensuring the project’s success.
I am looking forward to learning more, and to being able to help the project and farmers in the future.