Electric fences are spreading across the Mara to prevent elephants from crop raids. This method is expensive for farmers and dangerous for both humans and wildlife.
There is a practical and more effective option for deterring elephants. Elephants have highly sensitive trunks and dislike the smell of capsaicin, the compound in chilies that makes the pepper hot. In Tanzania, a method of building chili fences was pioneered and proven more effective against elephant intrusion.
“When they breathe in even very, very small amounts of atomized capsaicin that you get when you burn a chili, for example, their whole trunk is stimulated.” Loki Osborn of the nonprofit Elephant Pepper Development Trust in an interview with National Public Radio.
By soaking recycled scrap clothing in a chili and recycled oil infusion, farmers can create elephant barriers that are inexpensive, natural, effective and not harmful to the elephants.
In July 2015 MEP hosted a group of Tanzanian farmers, currently using chili fences, to come to the Mara. MEP rangers, resident farmers and local administrators teamed up to secure two farms in Transmara with chili fences. It was a success! When an elephant arrives at the chili fence on these two farms, they will turn up their trunk in disgust and find other food to eat.