Cow dung, rotten eggs and chili halt crop-raiding elephants in East Africa

Harare (AIM-New Ziana) -A foul-smelling thick liquid made from rotten eggs, cow dung and other natural ingredients is assisting farmers in Uganda and Kenya to save crops from marauding elephants.

The smelly elephant repellent was tested on 30 farms in Uganda, near Murchison Falls National Park, and 10 in Kenya, which are adjacent to Tsavo East National Park.

In Uganda, the concoction stopped 82 percent of 309 elephant raids on crops, while in Kenya it halted 63 percent of 24 raids, according to results published in the journal Diversity.

The repellent also contains chili, ginger, garlic and the leaves of the neem tree, a species native to India that is widely grown in East Africa.

These ingredients are crushed in a pestle, mixed with water, boiled and sieved before being left to mature for four weeks in an airtight container.

“All of those ingredients mix well together to make a horrible smell. To us it stinks, but we don’t know how elephants perceive it,” Lydia Tiller, co-author of the Diversity study said.

“I think what it does is mask the smell of ripening crops because it is so bad and so powerful.”

The farms in Kenya’s Lower Sagalla area are adjacent to Tsavo East, part of the Tsavo Conservancy, which is home to nearly 15 000 elephants while the Latoro farming area in Uganda is near the northern boundary of Murchison Falls National Park, home to 1 300 elephants.

In Africa in countries where they are found, elephants frequently invade crops in fields adjacent to national parks, sometimes attacking and killing people.

AIM-New Ziana

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