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article imageKeeping elephants at bay with chili powder and condoms

By Tim Sandle     Aug 27, 2016 in Environment
The ultimate elephant repellent has been found to be chili powder inside condoms, with the condoms placed at key locations. There's a reason for this, and it's to do with protecting elephants from poachers.
Despite international governmental and charitable efforts, elephant poaching in Africa continues at a high level. The demand for ivory in some parts of the world (such as China) remains high and poachers are lured by the prospect of earning a year's wages per kill.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks. The ivory is often carved into ornaments and jewelry. This is despite an international ban on the trade or sale of ivory, as enforced by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora since 1989. The impact on elephant populations is alarming. National Geographic notes that in Central Africa, the regional elephant population has declined by 64 percent in a decade.
One way poachers secure their kill is to lure elephants into open areas or to camp out in areas where elephants are known to wander, often on the fringes of national parks. In order to repel elephants from going towards areas known for poaching, scientists have been developing elephants repellents. The one that seems to work best is a condom filled with chili powder.
The repellent has been devised by Damian Bell. Bell, the executive director of Honeyguide, a nonprofit conservation charity. The chili condoms have been tested out in Tanzania, according to the Washington Post.
Bell explains that another motivation for the condoms is to keep elephants away from crops, to avoid farmers from harming the elephants. Chili works because the spice can affect the elephants’ sense of smell.
The condoms are not the sole deterrent. They are part of a combination of flashing lights, a foghorn like sound and the use of firecrackers.
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