PROJECT ORANGE ELEPHANT
Did you know that Sri Lankan elephants don't like citrus? We harness this natural deterrent to protect farms from crop raiding elephants
Back in 2006, our research scientists conducted feeding trials on several captive Sri Lankan elephants and found they had a natural aversion to citrus plants. From this, our Project Orange Elephant was born.
We plant orange trees around home gardens at farms in rural Sri Lanka to protect crops and rice stored in homes from crop raiding elephants. Our corporate sponsors and volunteer donations mean we now work in twelve villages in the Wasgamuwa area, and our project just keeps growing!
In 2018, we received a further 2500 plants to give to two new villages where elephants enter farms on a weekly basis, damaging crop plants and properties.
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How do you stop a crop raiding elephant?
Late one night in May 2015, two elephants, including one standing nine feet tall, quietly entered the small farming village. They were hungry and in search of food. Their keen sense of smell led them straight to a small brick home where four village farmers slept. Inside, were bags of recently-harvested rice and seeds representing a season’s worth of toil and a significant portion of the farm family’s annual income.
Within minutes, it was gone.
Using their powerful trunks, the elephants broke through the brick wall with ease, grabbed the bags, ripped them open and began eating. Government-issued fire crackers were lit and the villagers managed to scare the elephants away before any human or elephant was hurt. As they fled the chaotic night scene—running for their lives—the elephants crushed the farmer’s coconut and banana plants.
This is a typical scenario in rural Sri Lanka, where humans and elephants compete for resources, with profound and long-term repercussions for the farmers and their families.
Wildlife Protection vs. Sustainable Development
Our orange trees mask the smell of crops stored in homes and provide a natural deterrent that helps prevent elephants from raiding farms, therefore reducing the chance of conflict between the farmers and elephants.
Not only does the project protect elephants from violence in retaliation for damaging crops, but it also provides a sustainable, supplementary income for the farmers. We use an orange variety with the highest demand in Sri Lanka, which is supplied to the largest supermarket chain thereby creating an additional income to support the farmers and make up for any crop losses, if crop raiding does occur.
There is no one solution to human-elephant conflict. Project Orange Elephant combines with our other Community-Based Conservation projects to project both humans and elephants.
What can you do to help?
Donate to Project Orange Elephant today and help us to purchase more orange plants for farmers in rural Sri Lanka, extending our project to new villages.
Your generous donation will provide farmers with grafted orange plants, and the irrigation and planting tools they need to successfully cultivate a profitable citrus crop. All this helps to ease the tension and quell the conflict between humans and elephants.