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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Evidence for the effectiveness of an oleo-resin capsicum aerosol as a repellent against wild elephants in Zimbabwe

Published source details

Osborn F.V. & Rasmussen L.E.L. (1995) Evidence for the effectiveness of an oleo-resin capsicum aerosol as a repellent against wild elephants in Zimbabwe. Pachyderm, 20, 55-64


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Use chili to deter crop damage by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated study in 1993–1994 of savanna and farmland at two sites in Zimbabwe (Osborn & Rasmussen 1995) found that a chili-based capsicum spray repelled elephants Loxodonta africana. In 19 of 22 tests in a national park, elephants retreated when sprayed with the capsicum aerosol. In three successful tests, elephants reacted to the sound of the spray discharging. Elephants also retreated in 16 of 18 tests carried out on farmland. In two tests, elephants appeared not to inhale the spray. Twenty-two tests were conducted in a national park from 16–22 July 1993, thirteen on bulls and nine on family groups. Capsicum sprays were discharged on foot or from vehicles (average 40 m from elephants) or by remote-control, 250 m from a watering hole. Eighteen tests were conducted on 1–14 elephants on farmland, on moonlit nights, from February–May 1994. Capsicum sprays were administered on foot or by remote-control. In all tests, elephants were settled for 5–20 mins, with staff in place, before testing, so elephants’ responses were not simply a reaction to human presence. A 10% capsicum oleoresin solution was then discharged from an aerosol can, upwind of elephants.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)