Chilli-pow­der con­doms, fire­crack­ers keep jum­bos at bay

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Feature/worldwide -

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.

The method has proved ef­fec­tive and Honeyguide Foun­da­tion, which hit upon the idea sev­eral years ago, with US-based Na­ture Con­ser­vancy has stepped up its pro­mo­tion, train­ing 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 . . . tool­kit, 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, 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. — Reuters

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