An easy-to-use capsicum delivery system for crop-raiding elephants in Zimbabwe: preliminary results of a field test in Hwange National Park

Sebastien Le Bel, Russell Taylor, Mike Lagrange, Onias Ndoro, Marc Barra, Hillary Madzikanda


With the increase of elephant populations in southern Africa and the expansion of human settlements into wildlife areas, local communities are faced with increasingly numerous cases of human-elephant conflict (HEC), which require a combination of mitigation approaches for there management. Although chilli has been tested with success on crop-raiding elephants, its utilization on a larger scale has been limited by the difficulty of
finding a low-cost, easy-to-use capsicum delivery system. Two types of dispensers were developed: a catapult using clay balls and a gas-dispenser using ping-pong balls. The two prototypes were tested on a firing range and the gas-dispenser on elephants in Hwange National Park. The mean shooting distance was 46 m. Fifty-four percent of shots released chilli oil extract on the targeted animal. Following shooting, 46% of elephants ran away, 29% backed up walking and 25% did not change their behaviour. Significant variation in agonistic behaviour was due to the success of chilli oil extract spreading onto the elephant. Improvements in the ballistic performance of the gas-dispenser have been undertaken and trials in its application with communities are in progress. Further research is planned to separate the individual effect of projectile impacts, bang and chilli itself and to assess the longer-term deterrence properties of capsicum on elephants.

Full Text:


Powered by PostgreSQL Hosted by ibiblio Creative Commons License