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Who would have guessed that the world's largest living land animal - the mighty African elephant, would be scared of the honeybee and flee at the mere sound of this tiny creature!
The experiment conducted by scientists in Kenya, Africa, entailed playing a recording of angry buzzing bees to 18 elephant herds. All but one, took off within 10 seconds of hearing the sounds. In contrast, a playback of white noise did not trigger any panic amongst the Nellies.
Scientists attribute this fear to two factors. While a single bee sting is just an irritation to the thick-skinned elephant, African bees produce a pheromone or chemical reaction when they sting, which brings out every bee in the area. This can result in over 10,000 bees attacking an elephant simultaneously. Ouch!
In addition, bees have a tendency to get into the water around the elephants eyes and into their trunks, causing them much anguish. Since elephants have amazing memories they are smart enough to steer clear when they hear any buzzing sounds.
The results of this experiment could prove very useful for the people of Kenya. Thanks to a strict ban on poaching, the elephant population has surged, leading to massive conflicts between the large animals and the local farmers. That's because the elephants have a tendancy to trample through their agricultural fields and destroy crops as they roam around the open land.
Scientists hope that by placing beehives in the agricultural fields, they will not only be able to lessen the conflicts, but also, that the farmers will be able to harvest and sell the honey, making it a win-win situation.
sources: telegraph.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk