Spicy peppers keep elephants out of farmers' fields
Wildlife Conservation Society Release
July 28, 2005
Key to Elephant Conservation is in The Sauce: Fiery chillies keep elephants out of crops and make a great sauce, say African entrepreneurs
NEW YORK, NY (July 28, 2005) -What do hot sauce aficionados and African elephants have in common? They both feel the burn of chilli peppers, the key ingredient for resolving human-elephant conflicts in Africa while raising money for farmers and conservation.
Supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other groups, the Elephant Pepper Development Trust (EPDT) has not only promoted the use of chilli peppers as a means of keeping elephants, buffalo, and other species away from important sources of human food, but has also introduced a viable cash crop to the economy of African nations.
"Chilli peppers are unpalatable to crop-raiding mammals, so they give farmers an economically feasible means of minimizing damage to their investments," said Loki Osborn, project director for the EPDT. "They can be grown as buffer crops to prevent crop-raiding and then be harvested and sold on the world market through the trust."
Osborn originated the idea of Elephant Pepper in 1997, when he found that chilli peppers could be used as a means of stopping elephants from destroying crops in the Zambezi Valley, which straddles the borders of Zimbabwe and Zambia. While electric fences and other deterrents are prohibitively expensive, chillies provide farmers with a cost-effective means of warding off the elephants without inflicting them with permanent damage.
"This is a highly creative and effective way to solve a growing problem across the African landscape," said Dr. James Deutsch, director of WCS' Africa Program. "With the growth of human populations in the Zambezi Valley and beyond, people and wildlife come into more frequent contact than before. Elephant Pepper products are a working example of how the survival of elephants can be reconciled with the livelihoods of farmers."
The Elephant Pepper Development Trust is currently investigating how to distribute their hot sauce products in the United States. For more information, visit www.elephantpepper.org
This is a Wildlife Conservation Society news release
Stephen Sautner (718-220-3682; ssautner [AT] wcs.org)
John Delaney (718-220-3275; jdelaney [AT] wcs.org)