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July 26, 2010

FAO says farmers can repel crop-eating elephants with pepper spray

Fight elephants with pepper spray, not murder, says the United Nations. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) suggests that angry farmers should use pepper spray in a fight with elephants, rather than killing them or other crop-destroying animals.

It seems as though farmers, particularly in Africa, are killing wild animals like elephants instead of taking other measures to keep them away from their crops. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) unveiled in a statement on their website a "toolkit" it suggests should be taught or handed out to farmers to stop them killing wildlife.

Competition between wild animals and humans has been a major problem in Africa, where growing populations require more land for crops and livestock.

Elephants and baboons having little space have been known to devastate the crops of farmers. "With the world's population growing at some 75 million a year, humans and wildlife are having to squeeze ever more tightly together, increasing the risk of conflict," the Web site stated. "Whatever the specific measures taken, it is important that they are introduced soon," FAO Forestry and Wildlife Officer Rene Czudek said in a statement. "The alternative could be the... loss of wildlife as we know it across much of Africa."

Pepper spray is recommended by the FAO to protect crops. Using a plastic gun to fire ping-pong balls full of chili would burst on an elephant's skin and send it running for cover. Another not so harsh method suggests setting fire to a chili-based mixture so the smoke deters the elephant. "Baboons which enter buildings to steal food may be scared off by placing a snake, preferably alive, inside a hollowed-out loaf of bread," the FAO statement suggested.

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