A flash flood of the Ewaso Ng'iro River in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, washed away a major research center devoted to the study of wild elephants this morning. The Save the Elephants research facility, known for its studies of elephant behavior and cognition, is submerged under mud, and vital research data and documents have been lost, says Lucy King, operations manager and doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. No one was injured.
Scientists and staff fled to a nearby hill and watched the river's waters smash tents and buildings. Seven neighboring tourist lodges were also destroyed. King and colleagues at the camp recently discovered that the behemoths are afraid of African honey bees. The scientists have used that finding to develop a fence made from beehives to deter elephants bent on raiding farms. Researchers at the center have also pioneered a method using mobile phone technology to follow and map the elephants' movements. They plan to rebuild, if they raise sufficient funds.