In Zimbabwe the people are happy to have figured out a thing or two about how to contain elephants, and they are using natural means and substances to do so.

It’s funny to think a 12,000-pound animal is afraid of a bee, but it is true. Earlier this year, we blogged about the fact that elephants are afraid of bees. The buzzing irritates them and makes them nervous, and if they get stung by a bee on their sensitive trunks, they literally ‘lose it.’

Forty years ago, over 1 million elephants roamed around the African savanna. Today, the number is 400,000, and every day 96 more elephants are killed, mainly by humans. That’s a 60% loss in 40 years.

Zimbabwe is not the only African country facing this problem. In Tanzania they fill condoms with chili powder and a firecracker and throw it at the elephant.

Here is a video that is just under 3-minutes long, showing how effective bees are in keeping elephants from returning to a place where they have been stung:

The human-elephant conflict in Zimbabwe had been drastically escalating, with hungry young male elephants scrounging for food at town garbage dumps and eating restaurant waste.

The Pittsburgh Zoo in the US state of Pennsylvania partnered with Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust and Connected Conservation in a collaboration aimed to save both elephant and human lives. They needed to find a solution to keep elephants from eating peoples’ crops, so the people don’t kill the elephants. In fairness to the elephants, farms and developments have replaced the lands where elephants previously lived. But an adult elephant can eat nearly half a ton of food a day, so he can easily destroy human farms and crops.

New observations have revealed that elephants don’t like the scent of chili oil and they won’t eat it either. They choke up when they inhale chili, which has an intense aroma, and they would rather starve than eat the fiery plant. They don’t much like tobacco either, or loud noises like fireworks.

Since elephants stay away from beehives and chili, the wildlife research organization plans to protect communities that live near game parks by planting chili fields and erecting bee colonies in order to scare the elephants away.

This is a purely natural elephant-proof barrier and should work well to keep everyone where they should be. It is wonderful to see this natural approach, and we can only hope it leads to more elephants living longer.