Pradeep Pattanayak

To reduce man-elephant conflicts in Odisha, the forest department for the first time is taking the help of honeybees. The project is called Project RE-HAB (Reducing Elephant-Human Attacks using Bees). Under this project, bee boxes with hundreds of bees in them would be placed at the village entry points. These boxes would be hung from trees with strings. 

Before entering into a village, the pachyderms will first come across with the bees. As they are afraid of bees and don’t like bees’ buzzing sound, they wouldn’t attempt to enter the village. 

Even if they try to enter the village, they would come in contact with the bee boxes, causing the bees to come out of the boxes. As the bees start attacking the herd, the jumbos would retreat. 

The forest department and the State Khadi Board are implementing the project in the State. 

On how the project will work, Handapa forester Subrat Kumar Satpathy said, “If a herd tries to enter into a village ignoring the boxes hung from trees, they would come in contact with the boxes. As a result, swarm of bees would come out of the boxes. Their buzzing sound is believed to drive the herd away from the village.”

The project has already been implemented in Handapa and Athamallik ranges of Athamallik division. In the first phase, as many as 100 boxes each have been kept at Laxmipur village of Handapa range and Rakhipur village of Athamallik range. Prior to putting the project to use, the villagers were given training on beekeeping. 

“Elephant menace is at its worst in our area. People are at the end of their tether. I hope the project would go a long way in reducing man-elephant conflicts,” said Tapan Dehury, a resident of Athamallik forest division.   
Echoing the same, Ranjit Dash, a resident of Angul forest division, said he is hopeful that people would return to agriculture once again. 

“The project will not only contain the man-elephant conflicts but also help improve people’s financial condition through,” opined Prasanna Behera, an environmentalist. 

If the project works as desired, it would be implemented in other areas of the State.