Introduction: What conservation problem or question does your study address?Diminishing forests and intensifying agriculture is leading to an increase in Human-Elephant conflict in areas inhabited by wild elephants. Traditional crop protection measures are not sufficient to address the problem. Short term solutions like chilli based deterrents has proven to be effective under certain circumstances. We tested the efficacy of different chilli based deterrents against tamed elephants at Sakrebyle elephant camp, Karnataka.
Methods: What were the main research methods you used?Chilli ropes and chilli rags were prepared by mixing different varieties of pungent chilli and tobacco powder with waste oil in the ratio 3:1:5 and were applied on to coir ropes and cloth rags. Grease was added to make paste soft enough for smearing. These were threaded around the banana baits and kept along the pathway where generally elephant moves in the forest. Chilli smoke was spread around the baits on their usual paths by burning chilli having high capsaicin content along with tobacco powder, rubber pieces and paddy straw. The response of the elephants to these treatments was recorded.
Results: What are your most important results?The captive elephants approached the chilli ropes and rags but were deterred from taking the bait. We found that 58.33% of elephants avoided the chilli rope where as 53.84% of elephants were deterred by chilli rags. Chilli fence was found more effective in dissuading female and juvenile elephants than solitary males. All of the elephants were deterred by the chilli smoke and none of them approached the bait.
Discussion: What are your important discussion points and what is the relevance of your results to conservation (if any)?Our results suggest that chilli smoke is very effective in deterring the elephants from their bait followed by chilli rope and chilli rags. However, the response may slightly vary between wild elephants and tamed elephants. These low cost measures will help the farmers to protect their farms from crop raiding elephants and improve the livelihood in Human-Elephant conflict zones.