''Ghost Chili'' Scares Off Elephants

''Ghost Chili'' Scares Off Elephants
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Villagers and hunters stand around the body of a male elephant nicknamed ''Laden'' after the al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The animal was killed at the Behali tea plantation in India's northeast state of Assam on December 16, 2006.

Authorities had issued orders to hunt and kill Laden, who was blamed for the death of 14 villagers.

More than 600 people have been killed by wild elephants in Assam in the past 16 years, the AP reported. A report by the wildlife department said that 265 elephants have died since 2001, many of them killed in retaliation.

Conservationists are now devising humane ways to ward off the elephants. Most recently wildlife officials have been building fences smeared with the oil of the bhut jolokia—the world's hottest chili.

"We have been forced to look for ingenious means to keep wild elephants from straying out of their habitats," M.C. Malakar, Assam's chief wildlife warden, told the Associated Press.

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—Photograph by AP
 
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