How can chilli and honey protect elephants?

elephant in botswana

Meet Prisca Laurence, beekeeper officer and chilli fence monitor in Minungo, Tanzania. Prisca is working with World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), an Intrepid Foundation partner, on an ingenious and sustainable project to help local people safeguard their livelihoods, whilst protecting elephants.

In Tanzania, with people encroaching on lands once inhabited only by animals, conflict has arisen due to elephants raiding farms to pillage tasty crops. One large elephant is capable of quickly destroying a whole field, so villagers have been forced to take drastic action, including setting painful snares and in the worst case scenario, hunting and killing rogue elephants. And that is where Prisca comes into the picture, when it was discovered that these giant creatures, with their long and sensitive noses, despise chilli and bees!

A new sustainable solution has been developed that helps communities and importantly, doesn’t harm hungry elephants. WSPA has set up the human – elephant conflict project and is working with local people to develop and install chilli fences, to safely, humanely and effectively deter elephants. We know how much we dislike getting a waft of chilli up our noses, just imagine if you had to put up with that sensation all the way up your trunk!

Moving the people of Tanzania to protect elephants and their livelihoods.

WSPA is offering communities a matched loan fund, where they can invest in equipment to protect their land and put money aside should a crafty elephant sneak through the fences. Plus they are training villagers to construct and maintain sustainable fences and assisting them to harvest and sell surplus chilli powder and honey.

Helping elephants helps people too.

Since WSPA introduced chilli fences, the villagers have seen a significant decrease in the incidents of elephants wreaking havoc on the already fragile livelihood of subsistence farmers in Tanzania. Helping the elephants has also helped enable many farmers to be able to expand their farms and produce surplus crops, earning more income to support their families.

The good news in Tanzania is that chilli is not the only thing that repels elephants; they’re not very fond of bees either. With a bee sting being particularly painful on an elephant’s sensitive trunk, just their humming is enough to send them scurrying! Last year, Prisca completed a five day bee keeping course and now works as the Beekeeper Officer and the chilli fence monitor in her community. She is training farmers in bee keeping, honey collection and harvesting.

At Intrepid, we love the fact that WSPA is offering the communities of Tanzania a practical, profitable AND sustainable solution that helps to protect local people whilst protecting elephants!

To see these glorious African elephants in the wild, tour Tanzania with Intrepid Travel.

The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
Help support WSPA and other great organisations via the Intrepid Foundation, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!

* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.


Photo: © WSPA – African Elephant, Tanzania

About the author'
Jane Crouch - Jane is a responsible business guru who writes about all aspects of how travel can bring positive environmental, social and economic benefits. Informed through travel on seven continents, leading Intrepid trips through SE Asia, work in outdoor education, energy conservation, international development, philanthropy and climate change action, plus a big love of walking, mountains and world music.

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