BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild News -

Burn­ing a sim­ple mix­ture of dung and chilli can take the heat out of a tricky con­flict be­tween hu­mans and ele­phants, ac­cord­ing to new re­search.

Chilli bri­quettes are widely used by farm­ers to stop their crops be­ing tram­pled, but there had been lit­tle sci­en­tific sup­port for the method, un­til Uni­ver­sity of Ox­ford bi­ol­o­gists tested it in Botswana.

The ele­phants do in­deed keep away from the smoke, though it didn’t not stop them com­ing back be­tween burns. “Our find­ings sug­gest that, within a pe­riod of two weeks, ele­phants iden­ti­fied the lo­ca­tion and time at which the bri­quettes were smoul­der­ing,” says Rocío Pozo of the Ox­ford team.

Nev­er­the­less, says Pozo, the bri­quettes of­fer an ex­cel­lent, non-lethal, short­term ele­phant de­ter­rent. “We hope that it will also pro­vide a long term ben­e­fit – by help­ing to de­crease neg­a­tive per­cep­tions of ele­phants and there­fore com­bin­ing them with land-use man­age­ments in the field.”

African ele­phants have learned smok­ing is bad for your health.

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