Did you know elephants don’t like chilli?

If you can’t handle the spice of chilli, you’re not alone. Elephants can’t seem to stand it either. In fact, FFI has been harnessing that bit of knowledge to help reduce human-elephant conflict in Cambodia.

We’ve helped farmers in the country’s remote Cardamom Mountains to plant chilli along the edge of their fields. When elephants venture out from the forest towards a farm, the first crop they come to is chilli, which sends them back to their forest home.

Crop raiding by elephants is a huge issue wherever humans and elephants live side by side. The Cardamoms are particularly poverty stricken, so losing crops can have serious implications for the livelihoods of local people.

Asian elephants are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss is forcing them into ever smaller forest fragments, which inevitably leads to more interaction with humans. FFI is also helping farmers to find ways to make a living that doesn’t lead them to clear the forest.

FFI’s Cambodian elephant work was featured on the BBC News website today:

13 Oct 2009- Cambodia villagers save elephants