Don′t you dare sting me! | All media content | DW | 14.06.2018
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Don't you dare sting me!

Elephants hate bee stings. Just hearing the insect's buzz scares them off. This gave two South African conservationists an idea. They're placing beehives in marula trees to stop the pachyderms from uprooting them.

Elsewhere in Africa, elephant populations are declining but in South Africa their numbers are growing. That's partly because nature reserves are fenced in and equipped with manmade watering holes.

Protected and well-provided for, the elephant population in South Africa's Kruger National Park has flourished so much that they have become a problem. The elephants strip trees and shrubs naked, often uprooting them in the process. This destroys the habitat other animals and plants in the park rely on.

Elephants are especially partial to one of the park's largest trees: the marula.

"Marula trees are highly sought after trees by elephants and that's because they have a lot of forage for the elephants and they are seeing a loss of 35 percent," says Robin Cook, who manages the beehive project. "They (the marula trees) provide food for the system, they provide habitat and so we know them as a keystone species."

The elephants often flatten the marula trees just so they can get to the leaves. But so far, the marulas with bees living in them remain untouched. Out of 50 trees, only one has been damaged over the past year.