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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What turns the mighty elephant away? Chilli, Condom, Firecracker

By Esther Nakkazi

A low cost and ingenious innovation made of chilli, a firecracker and a condom can drive a huge elephant away and protect communities' food.

A ‘chili cloud’ made of chili powder mixed with sand and a lit firecracker inside of a condom can be thrown near a grazimg elephant to make it uncomfortable enough to turn around.

This four-step elephant alarm system does not harm the elephant. It just makes the elephant uncomfortable enough to turn around.

Honeyguide Foundation with support from The Nature Conservancy is working with local communities in northern Tanzania to use fireworks, chili powder, and flashlights to safely redirect elephants off farmland.

“The elephant alarm system is an ingenious and inexpensive way to reduce conflicts by safely redirecting the animals off farmland,” said Matthew Brown Africa Region Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy in a press release.

Before this innovation villagers used to throw a spear at those stubborn elephants and they would go off and die somewhere else but now they use a torch and a chili cloud to chase away them.

Human-wildlife conflict has become a growing challenge as more people turn to farming in corridors where elephants range, conflicts between the two cause huge problems.

When an elephant wanders onto a villager’s farm, it can have a devastating effect: A single elephant can destroy someone’s food supply for the entire year in one night, trample property, and threaten a family’s safety.

“The fact that people on the ground are participating, and we’re saving elephants while protecting livelihoods is amazing. Honeyguide wants to make sure that farmers and communities continue to be conservationists, and in order to achieve this, elephants need to be seen as a friend rather than foe,” said Damian Bell, Executive Director, Honeyguide.

The elephant alarm system does more than protect one wandering elephant and one family’s crops each night: It’s part of a holistic strategy to protect landscapes, natural resources, and wildlife for the long term. Ensuring that local communities benefit from wildlife, and are engaged in their conservation, is a key element to save them.

“Elephants are enormous animals to try and keep out of your vegetable patch and also extremely dangerous animals,” said Bell.

“Since we have developed the human elephant conflict toolkit, we have seen an attitude change with in these communities whereby they are much more confident that they can keep elephants out of their fields without harming the elephants.”

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