Tanzanian villagers deter elephants with chilli condoms

  • 13/08/2016
Elephants (file)
Elephants (file)

Conservationists in Tanzania are using an unorthodox way of keeping elephants from wandering into human settlements - by throwing condoms filled with chilli powder at them.

Honeyguide Foundation and the US-based Nature Conservancy have joined forces to train volunteers in villages in north Tanzania to use a non-violent four-step way of protecting their homes and crops without hurting the animals.

Previously many used spears to defend themselves.

Friday is World Elephant Day, which is dedicated to the protection of the animals.

"Since we developed the tool kit, we have seen an attitude change within these communities whereby they are much more confident that they can keep elephants out of their fields without harming the elephants," Honeyguide executive director Damian Bell said in a statement.

The first two steps involve shining a torch at the trespassing elephant and sounding a horn. If it is not deterred, a so-called "chilli cloud" is thrown.

Chilli powder mixed with soil is packed with a firecracker into a condom, and its end is twisted shut with just the fuse exposed. When lit, the condom bursts open with a bang, spraying a fine dust of chilli powder into the air. One whiff is usually enough to send an elephant the other way.

A last resort is a launcher that shoots a Roman candle firework into the air, producing a loud, bright explosion.