On Chiles and Elephants

A pretty interesting story about how
farmers in Africa are using chilies to ward off elephants to protect their crops. Turns out the pesky pachyderms
haven’t acquired a taste for hot stuff, and so in the Zambezi valley in southern Zambia, the farmers make a paste out
of the chilies and spread the stuff on fences and places they want the elephants to avoid.

The problem is actually due to the successful
recovery of elephant populations in the region. According to a recent study, elephant populations have grown to 355,000
from 283,000 in the five years to 2002. The result is that over the last few years, elephants and farmers have come
into closer contact with one another as growing elephant populations put pressure on the farmer’s efforts to grow
crops. The elephants wreak major damage on crops, and have been known to wipe out the annual harvests of entire
villages. This is bad news for the rural poor who are barely surviving as it is. The solution is a good one when you
consider that sometimes the farmers kill elephants, which isn’t cool. You gotta like it when such a simple solution can
help alleviate a serious problem.