Nelly Bassily | March 29, 2010
Thihlipe Dithrude is fed up with elephants destroying his crops. He used to bang a drum and make loud noises to scare the beasts away. But this only worked for awhile. Sooner or later, the elephants would return with their giant appetites.
Now Botswanan farmers like Mr. Dithrude have a new weapon against elephants. It doesn’t hurt the elephants, but it does keep them away. It’s chili pepper.
The use of chili peppers to protect farms has been tested in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Farmers experimented until they discovered which method worked best. Now these techniques are being promoted in Botswana.
The first technique deters elephants from coming near fields. Farmers create a chili fence out of rope. The rope is either soaked in a mixture of chili powder and engine oil or smeared with a mixture of chili powder and grease.
A rope fence on its own won’t stop an elephant. But elephants hate chili because it irritates their trunks. So they will back away from a chili fence. Farmers can also hang bells on the fence to alert them to giant trespassers.
Other techniques can be used if an elephants enters the farm. Chili pepper fumes can be sprayed to irritate the elephant and encourage it to leave. Playing a recording of elephant warning cries can also scare elephants away.