On Friday, the world will celebrate World Elephant Day and while that may be an abstract holiday for some countries, some others by reason of having elephants in their locales will have to think more seriously on how to protect elephants.
Battles have been fought in many African countries over the commercialization of elephant tusks which result in poaching of elephants but even as that phenomenon slows down, another threat in the form of community members protecting their homes and crops from the roaming animals have arisen.
The community members in retaliation will often employ violent means (like using spears) to drive off the elephants, sometimes going as far as killing them. Conservationists in Tanzania have, however, introduced some rather unorthodox methods of keeping elephants from wandering into human settlements and one of them involves using condoms.
Honeyguid Foundation hit upon the idea several years ago and U.S.-based Nature Conservancy has stepped up its promotion, training volunteers in villages in north Tanzania to use a non-violent four-step way of protecting their homes and crops without hurting the animals.
Honeyguide executive director Damian Bell said in a statement;
“Since we developed the … toolkit, we have seen an attitude change within these communities whereby they are much more confident that they can keep elephants out of their fields without harming the elephants,”
The first of these methods involves simply shining a torch at the trespassing elephant and consequently sounding a horn. if those two, which make up the first two-steps of the plan do not deter the animal, they can now move on to the third step which involves the condom.
Chilli powder mixed with soil is packed with a firecracker into a condom, its end is twisted shut with just the fuse exposed. When lit, the condom bursts open with a bang, spraying a fine dust of chilli powder into the air. One whiff is usually enough to send an elephant the other way. It is known as a ‘chilli cloud’.
If the chilli cloud fails, the last resort is a launcher that shoots a Roman candle firework into the air, producing a loud, bright explosion. The steps are pretty simple compared to the duty we have to protect elephants.