Hot chilli peppers keep elephants at bay in India
Nov 18, 2007, 13:57 GMT
New Delhi - Wildlife authorities in India's north-eastern Assam state are using hot chilli peppers to keep rampaging wild elephants away from human settlements and farmlands, news reports said Sunday.
Forest rangers have put up rope barriers smeared with Bhot Jolokia, one of the world's hottest chillies, around settlements bordering forest land in Balipara in Sonitpur district, about 210 kilometres north of Assam's main city Guwahati, IANS news agency reported.
'We have put up this hot fencing on an experimental basis and the results are positive with elephant depredation in the area definitely decreasing,' Assam's Forest and Wildlife Minister Rockybul Hussain was quoted as saying.
'Grease and hot pepper oil made from Bhot Jolokia are mixed and applied to the rope fencing. The grease acts as a waterproof. The moment the elephants make contact with the rope it causes irritation to the animals,' Hussain said.
The Bhot Jolokia, recognized as the world's hottest chilli in 2007 by the Guinness Book of World Records, grows widely in north-eastern India and is a part of the staple diet of the local people.
The innovative method of using chilli on fencing was earlier tried successfully in Niassa province of Mozambique, known for its man- elephant conflict, the minister said.
He said the state government had approached the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with a request to replicate the chilli pepper fencing pilot project in other areas vulnerable to rampaging elephants.
India has an estimated 22,000 wild elephants and about a quarter of them are found in Assam. Routine destruction of their habitat have made the elephants stray to human settlements in search of food.
Villagers usually try to drive away the elephants by beating on drums or bursting firecrackers, but there have been reports of poisoning as well, forest officials said.
Elephants have killed 248 people in Assam over the past five years, while 268 elephants died in the same period, many of them victims of the conflict with humans, according to a recent Assam Wildlife Department report.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur