Wild honey from the tiger-infested mangrove forests of West Bengal’s Sunderbans is prized for its purity and therapeutic properties. However, honey would now be produced for the primary time by apiaries in villages close to the Buxa Tiger Reserve and Jaldapara National Park in north Bengal.
Jaldapara, positioned within the Himalayan foothills, is thought for its elephants and rhinoceroses, and a tiger was not too long ago noticed at Buxa after practically 20 years. Because of the area’s ever-growing elephant inhabitants and fragmented forests, man-animal battle is widespread.
“This is the first time that honey will be produced through apiculture by villagers living within and on the outskirts of Jaldapara and BTR,” stated Surendra Kumar Meena, Alipurduar’s district Justice of the Peace. “We plan to produce around 10,000 kilos of honey in the first year, and then we’ll scale it up.”
According to officers, the undertaking’s aim is to scale back man-elephant battle within the space. West Bengal has the second-highest variety of incidents of man-elephant battle within the nation, after Odisha. Elephants killed at the least 430 folks in West Bengal between 2015-16 and 2019-20. The majority of the fatalities occurred in north Bengal.
With conservation efforts, the state’s elephant inhabitants has elevated from round 175 in 1989 to round 700 immediately. The elephant inhabitants in north Bengal exceeds 600.
“On the one hand, it would help generate alternative livelihood for the villagers while also discouraging them from going inside the forest, reducing chances of encounters with wild animals,” stated Parveen Kaswan, deputy area director of Buxa Tiger Reserve. “The beehives in the villages may also keep elephants away from the villages.”
Reducing human interference within the tiger reserve might also assist deliver the massive cats again. Although the prey base of tigers corresponding to chital and sambar has been dwindling because of fading grasslands, human exercise inside the forest has additionally been cited as one of many causes for the reserve’s tigers’ disappearance.
“Since a tiger was discovered in the BTR in December 2021, efforts have been made to expand the grasslands.” But we additionally want to scale back human interference within the forest,” a forester said. “Providing an alternate supply of revenue within the type of apiculture could assist us obtain this aim.”
The district administration is funding the undertaking, and the forest division is offering all essential help. In the approaching years, the district administration plans to determine an apiculture coaching centre the place villagers will probably be taught the way to scale up manufacturing.
“To begin with, we are providing approximately 600 boxes in the Jaldapara and BTR areas.” The district administration has already contributed greater than 2 crores. “A few thousand people would benefit,” Meena stated. “In a day or two, we plan to launch a brand to market the honey.” It would initially be offered by stalls within the district and would later be accessible on-line as nicely.”
Experts agreed that apiculture would offer native villagers with an alternate supply of revenue, stopping them from coming into the forest, however they disagreed about utilizing honey bees to chase away elephants.
“Beehive fencing may work on a small scale, perhaps to save a few individual houses, but it will not work on a large scale, as previous experiences in Africa and Sri Lanka have shown,” stated Raman Sukumar, elephant skilled and ecologist on the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru. “Elephants usually return through alternate routes to raid croplands.” However, the hassle will undoubtedly present villagers with an alternate supply of revenue and is a welcome measure.”