Farmers in Uganda have invented an innovative, non-lethal repellent that is helping Zimbabwean farmers safely keep elephants out of their fields and away from their crops.
The mixture contains chili, garlic, ginger, cow or elephant dung, and a few other ingredients. It’s the first deterrent that is cost-effective, easily grown, and that the elephants have not yet outsmarted.
“The strong smell is produced after three weeks of fermentation,” Tikobane Trust Founder Ndlelende Ncube told Anadolu Agency.
Farmers in Zimbabwean villages where the repellent was tested said they had far fewer unwanted encounters with elephants.
“I’m happy this concoction is working,” local farmer Flora Mangwana told Anadolu Agency. “I’ve seen some changes compared to other years that I’ve lived here.”
In places where people and pachyderms live in close proximity to one another, there are ongoing problems with elephants entering fields and trampling on crops, including maize, a dietary staple in Zimbabwe. Moreover, interactions between farmers and elephants often result in injury and death.
Maz Robertson, a representative with WildAid-East Africa, and his group are developing a business model that aims to give farmers elsewhere access to the deterrent and so reduce conflicts between humans and elephants. The current goal is to make the substance widely available while keeping costs low.
“Some of the ingredients need money, hence why we have also begun training local villagers to start planting ginger, garlic, and other herbs in their gardens,” Robertson told Anadolu Agency. “Hopefully, this will allow us to have year-long supplies.”
This new repellent is a potentially groundbreaking way to safely and affordably maintain boundaries and local food production without harming elephants.