Managing Human–Elephant Conflict in Zimbabwe: A Boundary Perspective Rather Than a Problematic Species Issue

  • Sébastien Le Bel
  • Mike La Grange
  • René Czudek


In elephant range states, human–elephant conflict is considered a serious handicap to the possibility of a peaceful coexistence between free-ranging elephants and their neighbouring human communities. The hypothesis developed proposes that the deep issues of human–elephant conflict are strongly correlated to boundaries. In other words, the establishment and respect of boundaries between problematic elephants and human populations could be a new approach to managing human–elephant conflict by changing methods used to control problematic individuals rather than targeting problematic interfaces. Of the many measures promoted to mitigate human–elephant conflict, the use of chilli pepper as an olfactory repellent has been popularized as a passive form of deterrent. To extend its use, a gas dispenser was developed that fired Ping-Pong ball projectiles filled with chilli oil extract. Field tests conducted in Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe between 2009 and 2013 confirmed the possibility of remotely deterring elephants in a successful manner. Successful integration of this new device with other more traditional mitigation approaches offers an opportunity to establish memory fence dynamics at crop/wildlife interfaces for effective long-term human–elephant conflict mitigation; in other words, teaching crop raiders to respect established boundaries and to stay away from farmed crops.


Human–elephant conflict Memory fence Chilli Elephant Local community Zimbabwe 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sébastien Le Bel
    • 1
  • Mike La Grange
    • 2
  • René Czudek
    • 3
  1. 1.Cirad Department ES UPR BSEF, TA C-22/D101, Campus International de BaillarguetMontpellier Cedex 5France
  2. 2.AWMC (Pvt) LtdHarareZimbabwe
  3. 3.Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Sub-regional Office for Southern AfricaHarareZimbabwe

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