Our newest project is all about little winged miracle makers! We’ve planted trees (620!) and installed 10 bee colonies as elephant-deterring “live fences” in other projects, turning our attention now to regenerating butterfly numbers and increasing bee presence around farms to create healthier soil and thus healthier people.
Kidney disease is rampant throughout the small villages where we work due to groundwater wells being highly contaminated with pesticides, and almost every family is affected. To help slow down the use of these deadly chemicals in villages already struggling with crop loss due to foraging elephants, we hope to show that healthy beehives around a farm and a butterfly garden around the home garden can help increase pollination while decreasing pesticide use.
The farmers here, almost all of the men in the village, are either sick or even dying from complications from kidney disease, and combining butterflies and bees as a sort of “surround sanctuary” could potentially save human lives as well as shift away from the practices that are making the soil and water truly poisonous to humans and all other animals. An increase in pollinators can help build a bridge to a healthier future while additional options and education are slowly introduced. It takes time to change minds about how farming practices can help or hurt in the long run, and when you’re just getting by as a subsistence farmer, it can be scary to change the methods you’ve used for years.
We’ve just begun this project, as the long-running monsoon this year forced us to wait until the environment was ready to support the plants and flowers that would feed the butterflies and bees, keeping them happy, healthy, and staying close to their new homes. In the next few months of dry season we’ll be busy installing bee boxes and traditional bee pots, as well as growing the flowering butterfly foods that will support them in being prolific pollinators. Buzzing, fluttering stories from the field coming soon!