Brewing Smelly Elephant Repellent

Field Report by International Intern, Tatiana Chapman

Something has been brewing in camp and it’s not been exactly appetising. The smelly elephant repellent has come to Lower Sagalla and last month, we were busy mixing up this, shall we say, exotic substance.

Ernest Oniba from WildAid Africa came down from Uganda for his third visit in order to start a pilot project to see whether this unique mixture can help reduce the effects of elephant crop raiding in this area. By mixing up ingredients that are known to be detested by elephants a project has started in Uganda aimed at deterring elephants from crop-raiding. Having proved effective, Ernest has been busy spreading the message of how to create this simple and relatively cheap elephant repellent. The mixture when brewed can be set up as a fence, with lots of bottles being strung up around a farm, each containing a small amount of the repellent. Or else it can be sprayed directly onto the crops, making them seem significantly less appetising to the elephants.

To start the project here, the pre-established women’s group selected six women who they considered most suitable to pilot this project due to the high levels of crop raiding they suffer from. Interviews were conducted to hear from these women about their experiences with elephants and to consider their suitability for this project. Having mapped out who will partake in this project these women were invited to start brewing the mixture. They brought along some of the necessary ingredients and Elephants and Bees provided the remaining items.

We started with mixing this substance together – this took a lot of pounding in a pestle and mortar and a fair bit of holding our noses!

The ingredients are as follows;



Neem leaves



Cow dung



The morning was spent pounding up the kilos of garlic, neem leaves, chillies and ginger which were then put into a 100 litre saucepan that was boiling water over a fire. As this boiled away, the cow dung was mixed with the eggs in a separate bucket. This was later all combined together and oil added.

The mixture is currently sitting in a big blue drum, tucked out of the way in order to brew for the next few weeks. We shall then distribute it into the appropriate bottles and start to spray or build the fence. The stage is set ready to be able to analysis how effective the repellent is. Whilst it may not be 100% we are all hopeful that it will help deter elephants. Another method to add to the tool box and hopefully a few more farms better protected against those naughty elephants!

A big thanks to WildAid Africa for all your help!

Photo credits: AnneMarie Russ

The views, opinions and position expressed in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy and position of Save the Elephants


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