The British biologist Dr Lucy E. King is the winner of the UNEP/CMS Thesis Award 2011. At a meeting in the Zoological Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn, the Jury voted with a vast majority in favour of this highly innovative thesis that recommends a natural deterrent to African Elephants.
She submitted her thesis on “The interaction between the African elephant (Loxodonta africana africana) and the African honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata) and its potential application as an elephant deterrent” to Oxford University in 2010. As elephants migrate over large distances, they are confronted with fences and human settlements, which constrain their migration. By raiding crops and tearing down man made barriers, elephants might pose a threat to local populations. African Honeybees might act as a deterrent to elephants to avoid conflicts between the largest terrestrial mammals and humans.
Dr King’s research focuses on the response of the giant African Elephant to the tiny honey bees. Based on the standard behavioural pattern of elephants when interacting with bees, she developed a device to prevent elephants from causing damage.
The members of the jury coming from international research institutes agreed that among the 14 top candidates for the Award, this thesis was unique in its approach. It is considered as a valuable contribution to reconciling prevailing conflicts between elephants and local people.
More than 60 PhD theses on migratory species have been received by the CMS Secretariat and its affiliate Museum Alexander Koenig. The theses focus on the biology of marine and terrestrial mammals, birds, reptiles, marine and freshwater fish and insects. Many of the theses are related to the impact of climate change on migratory species; invasive species; grasslands and agriculture; marine ecosystems; and long distance migration. Ms. Franziska Tanneberger with her thesis on the Aquatic Warbler, Mr. J. Grant C. Hopcraft findings on herbivores in the Serengeti and Ms Christiane Trierweiler’s research on the Montagu Harrier were recognized as laureates.
The 2011 Thesis Award 0f 10,000 Euro sponsored by Deutsche Lufthansa, will be presented to the winner at CMS COP 10, 20-25 November, in Bergen, Norway.