Date of Award

2-1-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Departments/Programs

Psychology

First Advisor

Jessica Rothman

Second Advisor

Lucy King

Third Advisor

Liv Van De Graaff

Academic Program Adviser

Karolina Czech

Abstract

As human and elephant populations grow in Kenya so does human-elephant conflict. One of the most substantial contributors to this conflict, the crop-raiding behavior of elephants (Loxodonta africana), is alleviated through the use of Elephants and Bee Project's beehive fences. A threat to these beehives are the honey badgers (Mellivora capensis) who try to obtain honey, causing damage to the hive and the hive to abscond. The objective of this study was to improve the effectiveness of these beehive fences through identifying and testing novel honey badger deterrent methods. On-farm experiments in Taita Taveta County, Kenya were conducted to determine if visual and tactile deterrents could reduce the frequency and severity of honey badger hive predation of the hives compared to a previously used method. Prior to the start of the study, 77.1% percent of hives absconded within a week following a honey badger attack. After the addition of the novel deterrents (motion activated light deterrent, cone baffle and hive cage deterrent), only 11.1% percent of the hives attacked by honey badgers absconded, suggesting the deterrents effectively reduced the amount of successful honey badger attacks. No relationship was found between deterrent type and amount of damage, nor for the duration and deterrent type. All deterrent methods are effectively preventing honey badgers from raiding hives with variance in the success rates and economic feasibility. This project complemented the Elephants and Bee Project's ongoing research by providing much-needed insight into the role honey badger deterrents could play in preventing damage to the elephant deterring beehive fences. This research suggests management recommendations through these deterrents to not only reduce honey badger hive raiding but also to improve human-honey badger coexistence as well as human-elephant coexistence.

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