Background : Elephants have been a menace on many plantations across the world .
They are specifically fond of bamboo grass and enjoy feeding on them
Options : Unlike Malaysian palm oil cultivars who have poisoned and killed elephants,
we propose alternative measures keeping the environment and ecological issues in
1.Growing chilly & pepper – pheromones drive them away
2.Nurturing bees – honey operations can be considered
3.Elephant geo-fencing - Working a bit like invisible dog fencing, geo-fencing is a
means of detecting radio-collared elephants that cross a virtual fence line (sometimes,
but not necessarily, following a real fence). When an elephant with a collar passes
through the virtual barrier, an SMS message is sent to the wildlife management center,
along with GPS coordinates of the elephant. Rangers in a vehicle can then intercept the
elephant and chase it off of the property. This method has been successfully used
ineast Africa where the elephants quickly learned where the invisible lines were and not
to cross them.
4 Electric Fences
Electric fences are a very effective way to prevent crop-raiding by elephants. They are,
however, expensive to install and they require a great deal of maintenance.
Increasingly, community elephant fencing projects are being funded externally or by
corporations. Today, in Kenya, for instance, thousands of kilometers of electric fence
now protect farmland and maintain elephant corridors.
5. Ditches, Moats, walls, and other barricades
In Asia ditches and moats have been used as barriers against elephants with limited
success. Digging and maintaining ditches is expensive, especially in wet areas subject
to soil erosion. In addition, elephants are not intimidated by narrow stretches of water
and they quickly learn to kick the sides of trenches to break them down.
Bee-ware: bees keep African elephants at bay
OSLO — No need for big muscles or high-tech contraptions when it comes to protecting African
plantations from elephants: a British biologist has discovered that buzzing bees will keep the beasts at
Lucy King, a researcher at Oxford University, was honoured Tuesday by the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) in the western Norwegian town of Bergen for devising a wire fence connected to
apiaries that begin to buzz when an elephant trips the wire.
The African Savannah elephant may be the biggest land animal on the planet, weighing in at some seven
tonnes, but it is terrified of bees and makes off at the first hum of the insect.
Pachyderms may have thick hides, but bees are attracted to the sensitive areas around their eyes and
inside their trunks.
King's discoveries have enabled several Kenyan villages to protect their plantations from herds of
elephants which often ruin their fields and deprive the local populations of their livelihoods.
"Her research underlines how working with, rather than against, nature can provide humanity with many
of the solutions to the challenges countries and communities face," UNEP executive director Achim
Steiner said in a statement.
Bergen is this week hosting a conference organised by the Convention of the Conservation of Migratory
Species of Wild Animals, also known as the Bonn Convention.
Chillies ward off elephants
In rural parts of Africa, chillies are being used to keep elephants off
cultivated land while also providing an income for the subsistence
In rural parts of Africa, where humans and elephants battle for access to the same land, chillies are
working to distract the animals from causing carnage while serving as a cash crop for farmers.
Like thieves in the night, elephants in rural parts of Africa raid the crops of subsistence farmers
located close to their habitat. Their nightly expeditions wreak havoc and threaten the livelihood of
farmers and those dependent on the farmer’s yield. As this scene plays out in large parts of southern
and eastern Africa each night, parties on either side of this food battle are losing ground, literally.
In raiding the crops, the elephants destroy plantations, damage homes or, in extreme cases, injure
or kill people. The farmers, in turn, have to spend nights guarding their crops, a dangerous activity
that leads to a loss in productivity. For the elephants, their habitat is continuously compressed as
agriculture expands, forcing them onto the cultivated land.
For decades rural farmers have employed traditional methods for keeping the elephants at bay,
including beating drums and burning fires. While these methods are less capital intensive and more
environmentally friendly than chemical repellents, electric fencing and disturbance shooting, the
effectiveness of these methods wane as elephants habituate to them. Central to effective elephant
diversion strategies is the need for it to be easy to implement and managed by the farming
Enter the Elephant Pepper Development Trust (EPDT), an elephant conservation project
dedicated to managing the conflict between humans and elephants while striving to promote the
livelihood of the farmers. The EPDT have found that planting chillies is the most effective and
sustainable elephant diversion strategy currently known. Elephants are unable to tolerate the spicy
herb. They won’t eat it and find its strong scent discomforting, thus steering clear of it.
More than simply using the chilies as an elephant scare tactic, the EPDT encourage farmers to grow
chillies to sell to African Spices, a for-profit facilitator who sells the chillies on the domestic and
international market. The chillies are also sold to Elephant Pepper, an organisation who works in
collaboration with EPDT, where the dried herb is used as the key ingredient in their range of African
spices and sauces.
In the interest of wildlife conservation and sustainable economic development, 10% of the profit from
the sale of Elephant Pepper products gets reinvested in the EPDT to further its conservation work.
With support from environmental and conservation agencies, the EPDT trains farmers to grow their
own chillies and guides them in teaching other members in their communities to do the same.
Elephant Pepper Development Trust’s chilli solution is a welcome alternative to injuring or killing the
animals while creating a feasible economic model that the affected farmers can benefit from.
A Dozen Ways to Stop an Elephant
The recent brouhaha over GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons killing an elephant in Zimbabwe got me
thinking. Elephants are smart creatures. And people are smart creatures. Surely there must be a
better way for the two of us to coexist.
It’s pretty well been agreed now that Parson’s behavior was not only distasteful and arrogant
(rich white hunter kills dangerous marauding elephant, saves poor villagers, lets them eat meat,
then gloats) but was wrong on a number of ethical and scientific grounds as well.
Elephants raiding crops are a problem. That much is true.
Elephants require an enormous amount of food, upwards of 150 kg of food per day for a wild
Indian Elephant; more like 300 kg per day for a large African elephant. Human encroachment
on their land and the easy-pickings (and often high caloric value) of a home garden or cultivated
field, combine to make them more than just a nuisance, but an actual danger, both to a farmer’s
livelihood and to human lives.
Sadly, the violence goes both ways. Every year in India more than 100 people and 40-50
elephants are killed during elephant crop raids. [i] In Sri Lanka, as many as three elephants are
killed every week, resulting in 10 -15 elephant orphans a year. Scientist refer to this clash of
species as Human-Elephant Conflict or HEC.
Those of us who only know elephants from zoos and wildlife documentaries might assume that
the people who live along side these beloved animals must care as much about them as we do.
And it’s true; in many cases local citizens do love and respect these enormous creatures. But
conflict breeds intolerance and people, many of whom are already struggling to subsist, grow
tired and angry over having to maintain constant vigilance to prevent elephants from destroying
an entire year’s worth of crops in a single night.
Obviously, the comprehensive answer is to create and enforce a balance between elephant and
human needs through habitat protection, maintenance of elephant corridors, and careful planning
around human settlement and agriculture. But in the short-term, farmers and local citizens do
need safe and effective methods for keeping out problem elephants.
So, here I’d like to put together a list of ways to repel elephants. All of these are being tested
and/or used in various parts of the world. Admittedly, they don’t all work in every case and they
each have shortcomings that include, at the very least, expense, availability, practicality, and
long-term effectiveness against an animal that learns quickly.
But my point is to show the ingenuity of people – both scientists and those directly affected by
the elephants – and the variety of solutions that have been applied to the problem, none of which
involve bringing in a Hemingway-wannabe to blow the offending creature to smithereens.
The simplest (and probably least expensive) way to deter elephants is for farmers to employ
patrols to guard crops. In Asia, guards mounted on domesticated elephants patrol the perimeter
roads of large plantations, using noise-makers, bright lights (at night) and other deterrents to
drive away encroaching elephants. Small farmers hire unskilled workers who patrol in groups to
drive away crop-raiding elephants.
It has been pointed out that farmers in elephant areas need to accept that guarding is always
going to be a part of agriculture. They need to build it into their farming practice. However,
guarding, if not done carefully, is exceedingly dangerous and accounts for a large number of
human-elephant conflicts and deaths of both species.
The Buzzing of the Bees
In response to the story about Bob Parsons, many bloggers reported on a series of studies that
showed that elephants are repelled by the sound of honey bees. [ii][iii] [iv] [v]
In short, African elephants are known to avoid acacia trees occupied by honey bees. This has led
to the invention of the ―bee hive fence‖— a regular fence strung with beehives made out of
hollow logs. If an elephant tries to push through the fence, the hive swings, the bees become
agitated, and the elephant flees.
Not only does it work, but in 2010, Save the Elephants started an ―Elephant-Friendly
Honey‖program to help farmers get the best price for their honey from beehive fences. The hope
is that the program will provide jobs, income, honey, and will eventually become self-sustaining.
It is common practice, both in Asia and Africa, to use loud noise to scare away intrusive
elephants. Noisemakers include firecrackers, pipe cannons, vehicle horns, shouts, and rifle-shots.
Elephants do grow used to such sounds, especially when the sounds are generated automatically.
But loud noise is an effective short-term deterrent against naïve elephants, especially when
combined with confrontation by a large group of guards.
Bright lights, oil lamps, and fire are sometimes used along the perimeter of a farmed area. As
with sound however, elephants easily habituate to oil lamps and fires. There have even been
reports of elephants putting out fires by stamping or dousing them with water.
In some areas people burn elephant dung or any other material that will smoulder and create
heavy acrid smoke. (Sometimes even tires, but that’s not encouraged.) Both the fire and the
scent of smoke work as repellents, but wind and weather are a factor, and, as mentioned above,
elephants are known to put out small fires.
While not yet used, it may eventually be possible to use elephant pheromones to control their
behaviour. Young male elephants in musth (their breeding period), for instance, release a honey-
like odour to broadcast their inexperience in order to avoid conflict with adult males. Mature
musth males broadcast malodorous combinations that deter young males. Chemically modulating
male behaviour may be one way to control elephant movement and help reduce human-elephant
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Image: The Elephant Pepper Development Trust
Capsaicin is the chemical in chili peppers that makes them hot. Since 1997 farmers in Africa
have been using the capsaicin to repel elephants. The simplest method consists of planting a wide
row of chili peppers around cultivated fields and gardens.
So successful has this been that the chilies themselves have become a cash crop for farmers. The
Elephant Pepper Development Trust now assists farmer in cultivating their crops and managing
elephants. In addition, the Trust formed two companies — African Spices Company in Zambia
and the Chili Pepper Company in Zimbabwe – that help farmers produce, sell and distribute the
chili peppers and products such as hot sauces, jams, and relishes.
Sprays made from capsicum oleoresin have also been used successfully against African
Elephants[vii] and are commercially available in Africa. Airborne capsaicin is a strong
deterrent, working to quickly drive elephants out of fields. The main difficulty with the aerosol
method is that the spray is subject to wind and other weather conditions. It is also an irritant to
humans and can remain in the air long after it is sprayed at the elephants.
However, applying capsaicin oil mixed with grease to a solid barrier such as a fence or even a
string or rope suspended above a fence has the same effect on the animals, repelling them upon
contact or close proximity. [viii]
Working a bit like invisible dog fencing, geo-fencing is a means of detecting radio-collared
elephants that cross a virtual fence line (sometimes, but not necessarily, following a real fence).
When an elephant with a collar passes through the virtual barrier, an SMS message is sent to the
wildlife management center, along with GPS coordinates of the elephant. Rangers in a vehicle
can then intercept the elephant and chase it off of the property. This method has been
successfully used ineast Africa where the elephants quickly learned where the invisible lines
were and not to cross them.
Electric fences are a very effective way to prevent crop-raiding by elephants. [ix] They are,
however, expensive to install and they require a great deal of maintenance. Increasingly,
community elephant fencing projects are being funded externally or by corporations. Today, in
Kenya, for instance, thousands of kilometers of electric fence now protect farmland and maintain
Ditches, Moats, walls, and other barricades
In Asia ditches and moats have been used as barriers against elephants with limited success.
Digging and maintaining ditches is expensive, especially in wet areas subject to soil erosion. In
addition, elephants are not intimidated by narrow stretches of water and they quickly learn to
kick the sides of trenches to break them down.
Stone walls are very effective in keeping out elephants, particularly when used as a base for a
simple electric fence. They are, however, expenses, and stone is not always available.
Some communities have turned to growing more enticing crops to attract elephants away from
farmland. In Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu forest is growing elephant delicacies, including bamboo
grass, in about 150 acres of the preserve that borders horticultural and agricultural fields.
Training & Conditioning
As I mentioned, elephants are smart. It appears that crop-raiding behavior is learned and is
passed down through generations – often by older males to younger ones. (Males are thought to
raid crops more often than females because they are more willing to take chances in order to get
a higher calorie reward)
So if elephants can teach each other, perhaps there is a way humans can modify elephant
behavior through a bit of basic Skinnerian operant conditioning. Elephants avoid the sound of
bees because they have learned that a bee sting is painful.
Wouldn’t it work just as well to use a punishment (capsaicin spray) combined with a novel
sound, such as a specific whistle or siren, to teach elephants to avoid the sound of the whistle?
With consistent use across elephant communities, it’s conceivable that all elephants could learn
(and then pass along the lesson) that the whistle is to be avoided at all costs – just like the bees.
Repairing the relationship between farmers and elephants is paramount. Elephants must be able
to eat and wander without being killed; farmers must be able to farm without fear of elephants.
The best solutions are those that are safe, affordable and sustainable. Even better are those that
allow farmers to profit while maintaining a positive relationship with the elephants (as in the
honey and chili pepper trade).
Only with innovative solutions like these in place, can we hope to put an end to the bravado
killing of elephants by the likes of Bob Parsons.
Op-Ed: Malaysia sacrifices its rare pygmy elephants for palm oil
By Anne Sewell
Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/article/342755#ixzz2gq9sgyno
Rangers of the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve were shocked to find a baby elephant, trying
in vain to wake its mother, who had been poisoned along with 13 other elephants, all part of
the same herd.
The herd had been staying at the edge of the rainforest reserve, close to a logging camp
and oil palm plantations. Therein lay the problem. Their carcasses were discovered over the
past four weeks on land controlled by Yayasan Sabah, the state wood and palm oil group.
The family’s territory covers around 400 square kilometers and is being taken away from
Plantation workers had been told to keep the elephants away from eating the fruit of the oil
palm. To do this, they poisoned the increasingly rare pygmy elephants, of which only 1,500
remain, and almost all of them are in Sabah.
Laurentius Ambu, who is the director of the local conservation authority said,―The elephants
ate rat poison. That’s how the plantation workers prevent the animals from eating the fruit of
the oil palm,‖ referring to the horrendous death of the rare forest elephants.
Policymakers in Malaysia are in the process of clearing the last remaining rainforest areas
in the states of Sarawak and Sabah for more plantations, as the country continues to rely on
the export of tropical timber and palm oil.
However, by destroying these forests, Borneo is losing many important animal and plant
species, including orangutans, proboscis monkeys and endangered rhinos. Now it seems
the rare pygmy elephants are also in severe danger.
The deforestation is being driven by Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, who personally
grants permits for the clearing of the rainforest and for the establishment of palm oil
Aman is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the state-owned Yayasan Sabah Group,
who is late 2012 started cutting down another 70,000 hectares of rainforest for the new
plantations. This left little or no room for the forest elephants.
Malaysian anti-corruption authorities have been investigating the bin Aman family since
around 2007, and the network of corruption and money laundering extends from Malaysia
right through to Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland.
There have been allegations of 70 million euros in bribes being laundered through the
Swiss bank UBS alone, and reportedly the Swiss federal prosecutor has opened a criminal
case against the bank by the Bruno Manser Fund. The Fund is an environmental
organization supporting the Penan people and their fight against the destruction of the
At present, Malaysia's oil palm plantations cover more than 5 million hectares and the
country produces around 20 million tons of palm oil annually, making Malaysia in second
place after its neighbor, Indonesia. But at what an awful cost!
It is important to immediately halt this horrendous crime against nature and to work towards
protecting the rainforests, rather than putting money into someone's already overflowing
bank account. For this reason, Rainforest Rescue is running a petition to call on Aman and
the Malaysian government to immediately halt its actions and to protect both the rainforest
and its inhabitants.
Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/article/342755#ixzz2gq9y2DHg