Hot pepper to ward off elephants

Conservationists in northeastern India are using the world's hottest chile peppers, known as ghost chilies, to protect villages from bands of elephants. Elephant attacks on human encampments appear to be on the rise as humans continue clear-cutting the elephants' natural habitats. As a result, villagers have taken to poisoning the elephants. To stop this killing, wildlife experts are considering more creative solutions. From the Associated Press:

Conservationists working on the experimental project in Assam state said they have put up jute fences made of strong vegetable fiber and smeared them with automobile grease and bhut jolokia chilies…

"We fill straw nests with pungent dry chili and attach them to sticks before burning it. The fireball emits a strong pungent smell that succeeds in driving away elephants," Nandita Hazarika of the Assam Haathi (Elephant) Project told the Associated Press on Monday.

Hazarika said the elephants would not eat the chilies because the smell would be enough to repel them. He emphasized the measures would not harm the animals.