In the early part of 2019 Moses Ryakitimbo reached out to us for help. Resolving human wildlife conflicts is his life’s work. In his late twenties, with a team and a strategy in mind we paid attention.
Actually Moses reminded us that we’d planned to meet in early 2017 near Arusha during our 2016-2017 Africa Tour. Sadly due to a comedy of errors it never happened.
I was delighted his interest and passion for resolving human wildlife conflicts had not waned. Now, after working with Moses in resolving human wildlife conflicts for over a year, he is figuring out what-is-and-is-not working.
Let me start at the beginning…
Back in May of 2019 Moses wrote:
My passion is animals. I am working on human wildlife conflicts across communities bordering the Arusha National Park in northern Tanzania. Here we have much trouble between elephants and farmers. This conflict has brought a lot of disasters, this includes crop destruction. When elephants graze beyond the borders of the reserve they sight cultivated food crops and feed on them. Elephants are the most devastating crop-eaters in the wild game family. Elephants trample farmers’ fields, break fences and this January elephants killed two farmers.
Moses presented, what he determined to be, a viable solution to resolving human wildlife conflicts between the farmers and the elephants. Beehives, not only random beehives but beehive fences. Moses was in contact with the Elephant Conservation Filed Program in Kenya. The ECFP is effectively resolving human wildlife conflicts by placing beehives in a fence like fashion along crop field perimeters. The presence of bees is keeping the elephants out of the farms. Fewer elephants and farmers are being killed. A win-win situation. Moses wanted to implement this same solution. However, he needed funds to do so.
Phase ONE or Test Run
Upon receiving funds from Nikela Moses and his team went right to work to build and install 10 beehives. After delays due to the rains the first beehive fence was finally installed. The farmers’ skepticism soon turned to elation. Where once a herd of more than fifty elephants devastated crops only a handful were seen. Once again the farmers could harvest, provide food for their families and sell the excess at the market. A huge win for the elephants and the people!
56 Beehives later…
After Phase ONE a new beehive design was used. Supposedly it would be more attractive and long lasting for the bees.
To date Nikela has funded 56 beehives creating fences along many village farms. About 36 beehives are still needed. However, right now a more pressing problem is being addressed.
Much needed Maintenance
Often great projects are started to help people and save wildlife. However, frequently no maintenance is planned for and naturally over time things fall apart.
Not with Moses. Part of his strategy from the beginning was maintenance and calibrating what works and what doesn’t.
Most recently Moses and his team discovered the Phase ONE beehives needed updating. Supposedly the bees had left and moved over to the newer hives. Guess bees are pretty smart and know what’s best for them?
The first hives proved inferior… to keep insects out and to enable the bees to produce the best honey. Moses and his team got right to work. As the monthly maintenance funds coming from Nikela didn’t cover all the costs Moses and his team got creative.
Moses and his team used as much of the old beehive material as feasible, purchased 10 necessary boards, hauled in tents and camped out right on Mr. Baraka’s farm (he was the first farmer to benefit from the beehive fences.)
The Take Away
Moses and his team are resolving human wildlife conflicts! What they learned is following the success of others works to a point, then adjusting for location is crucial. Also, cheaper is not always best in the long run. The newer beehives are more costly, but are proving more effective, because the bees like them better. And they should last longer.
Every month Moses and his team walk the beehive fence lines. They assure the grass is kept short and the poles are painted to keep the insects away. They tend to the bees and teach the farmers how to harvest the honey.
As you know, this all takes funding. But then, the elephants and these farmers and their families are so worth it. Especially now during these very challenging pandemic times.
Care to help with the monthly maintenance costs?
Care to help sponsor one of the next 36 beehives?
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