Pepper keeps away elephants

Tweet: Zambezi farmers grow chillies to keep elephants at bay

chillies vs elephants

Every year farmers and pastoralists across India lose around 15 % of their produce or livestock to wildlife. It has been reported that elephants destroy crops in Assam and Karnataka. In desperation farmers in Karnataka have fenced their farms and electrified them. Since 2008, in Karnataka alone, over 50 elephants have been electrocuted.  I came across an interesting conservation effort in the book “The Adventure Capitalist” which could be an eye opener for conservationists, and if the same can be replicated in India help our embattled farmers too.

Farmers in Africa closer to Zambezi River have found a way to this problem which is beneficial to both farmers and elephants—growing chillies. Faced with crops being destroyed by marauding elephants farmers did not know what to do until a researcher came up with the idea of growing chillies, now known as Elephant Pepper. Elephants have particularly sensitive mucous membranes and when they encounter a chilli bush they tend to simply turn tail and head off in the other direction. Realising elephant’s sensitiveness to chillies researchers encouraged farmers either to ring their farm plot with chilli bush or grow it as a crop. This unique idea of conservation has been turned into business of “green dollar” as chillies are made into sauce and exported, even to countries like India. Hope farmers in Assam and Karnataka could follow this example