In Africa, farmers use the spicy chemical in locally grown chilis to keep elephants away from other crops.
And in a unique marketing campaign designed to help farmers and save elephants, a line of Elephant Pepper chili products is now being sold in the United States.
The goal, in a cooperative effort between African farmers and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), is "to create new economic opportunities for rural Africans and support efforts to safely reduce the conflict between elephants and humans in Africa," according to a WCS statement.
Elephants do not like capsaicin, the chemical in chilis that makes them hot. So farmers surround maize and other crops with buffers of chilis.
They also mix crushed chilis with used grease and smear it on fences. And they mix chili with animal dung to make briquettes, then burn them at night to create a noxious smoke.
Chilies are also sold to the Elephant Pepper brand for hot sauce products, which have been marketed in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana. They are now available in the United States, the WCS announced Tuesday.
Proceeds from the sales of the products are then donated to the Elephant Pepper Development Trust.
"The Elephant Pepper product line now offers U.S. consumers a means of supporting both elephants and sustainable development in Africa," said James Deutsch, director of WCS’ Africa Program.
The products are available at www.elephantpepper.com.
"Our major challenge is to identify a distributor who would like to get involved with this socially responsible brand, and contribute to economic development in Africa," explained marketing manager Nina Gibson. "The brand needs a partner who will see the long-term benefit of the project."
Copyright © 2006 Imaginova Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.