Citizen science project with Future for Nature Academy

After the placement of beehive fences at several locations, a number of cameras were placed to monitor the behaviour of elephants. In this way, Bring the Elephant Home hope to give a statement about the effectiveness of beehive fences. To realise this, a number of 114 videos need to be classified. Given the large assignment, we started a collaboration with the Future for Nature Academy to recruit students and elephant experts for this project.

In this “Citizen Science Project” enthusiastic volunteers contribute to the research by helping to analyse a large amount of camera trap data. The project was kicked off with an event on the 15th of January at Wageningen University in collaboration with the Future for Nature Academy. During the event, a group of young scientists learned more about the project, had the opportunity to ask questions and practice together and started analysing right away. What people need to classify in the videos is how many elephants they see, their sex and age group, what behaviour they show and lastly whether or not they break through the fence. The citizen science approach helps to engage with volunteer young scientists in an innovative way and make the project more participatory. The data analysis became a more inclusive and transparent process, which was needed given the complexity of analysing elephant behaviour recorded by the camera traps. Through the process, we established an informed and consensus-based model to reach research results, whilst the process provided opportunities for students to enhance understanding, knowledge and skills for elephant conservation and build strong partnerships.

Special thanks to:

Many thanks to Dr. Lucy King of Save the Elephants for the inspiration and guidance, and the Phuluang Wildlife Research Station for realizing the beehive fence project in Thailand! We are very grateful for the financial support we received for this project from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) of IUCN, WWF and Fondation Ensemble. And of course a big thank you to the Future for Natura Academy and all the citizen scientists who joined this project!

Apart from the research about the effectiveness of the beehive fences, questionnaires are sent out and interviews conducted with beehive fence owners and their neighbours. They will focus on measuring the potential increased well-being of farmers as a result of using beehive fences. These results will also be used for our bigger research about how human-elephant coexistence can be realised. More research information.

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