Hottest chili used to keep wild elephants from Indian Villages
GAUHATI, India - Wildlife experts in northeastern India are experimenting with a new weapon to prevent marauding elephants from destroying homes and crops and trampling people in villages close to their habitat - super-hot chilies.
Conservationists working on the experimental project in Assam state said they have put up jute fences smeared with automobile grease and bhut jolokia - also known as the ghost chili and certified as the world's hottest chili by the Guinness Book of World Records. They also were using smoke bombs made from the chili to keep elephants out.
"We fill straw nests with pungent dry chili and attach them to sticks before burning it. The fireball emits a strong pungent smell that succeeds in driving away elephants," Nandita Hazarika of the Assam Haathi (Elephant) Project told The Associated Press on Monday.
Hazarika said the chilies would not be eaten and that the smell would be enough to repel the elephants. He emphasized the measures would not harm the animals.
Northeast India accounts for the world's largest concentration of wild Asiatic elephants; 5,000 are estimated living in Assam alone.
Conservationists say wild elephants increasingly attack human settlements encroaching on their natural habitat. Satellite imagery by India's National Remote Sensing Agency shows that up to 691,880 acres of Assam's forests were cleared from 1996 to 2000.
More than 600 people have been killed by wild elephants in Assam in the past 16 years and villagers have reacted with an anger that has shocked conservationists. In 2001, in Sonitpur district, 112 miles north of the state capital of Gauhati, villagers poisoned 19 wild elephants to death after they feasted on crops and trampled houses.
"We have been forced to look for ingenious means to keep wild elephants from straying out of their habitats," M.C. Malakar, the state's chief wildlife warden, told the AP.
NMSU is home to the world’s hottest chile pepper
When Paul Bosland exhaled after taking a bite of the world’s hottest chile pepper, it felt like he was breathing fire.
“Got milk?” he thought.
The next thing Bosland thought, after gulping down a soda, was, “That chile has got to be some kind of record.”
He was right.
In fall of 2006, the Guinness Book of Records confirmed that New Mexico State University Regent’s Professor Paul Bosland had indeed discovered the world’s hottest chile pepper, Bhut Jolokia.
Bhut Jolokia, at 1,001,304 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), is nearly twice as hot as Red Savina, the chile pepper variety it replaces as the world’s hottest. A New Mexico green chile contains about 1,500 SHUs and an average jalapeno measures at about 10,000 SHUs.
“The name Bhut Jolokia translates as ‘ghost chile,’” Bosland said, “we’re not sure why they call it that, but I think it’s because the chile is so hot, you give up the ghost when you eat it!”
According to Bosland, Bhut Jolokia is a naturally occurring inter-specific hybrid indigenous to the Assam region of northeastern India. A member of NMSU’s Chile Pepper Institute visiting India sent Bhut Jolokia seeds back to NMSU for testing in 2001.
“The plant doesn’t set fruit very well, so it took a couple of years to get enough for field testing,” Bosland said.
Bosland then grew Bhut Jolokia, Red Savina, and habanero peppers under controlled settings. Bhut Jolokia exhibited significantly higher SHUs, as much as triple the amount, and these findings were confirmed by two independent laboratories.
Bosland reported that the variety has compelling potential in the packaged food industry as a food additive. The pepper could be pickled while still green, dehydrated and used as a seasoning. Because the heat is so concentrated, less would be needed and food manufacturers would save money.
“This isn’t something you’d pickle whole and eat,” Bosland said, “but it could replace dehydrated jalapeno as an additive.”
Bhut Jolokia is not NMSU’s first brush with chile greatness; the record-holder for world’s largest chile pepper is a specimen of the ‘NuMex Big Jim’ variety. The record-holder was grown near Hatch, but the variety was developed at NMSU.
Bhut Jolokia seeds are available only through the Chile Pepper Institute. To order, call (505)646-3028. Bhut Jolokia plants should be available for purchase from the institute in late April.
Found on NMSU’s main campus, the Chile Pepper Institute is part of a continuing effort to educate and improve the lives of citizens across the state.
Naga Jolokia pepper
The Naga Jolokia (Bhut Jolokia, Ghost Chili, Ghost Pepper, Naga Morich) is a chili pepper that grows in northeastern India (Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur) and Bangladesh. It was confirmed by Guinness World Records to be the hottest chili in the world, displacing the Red Savina. Disagreement has arisen on whether it is a Capsicum frutescens or a Capsicum chinense. The Indians claim it is a C. frutescens, but the derived cultivar Dorset Naga was assessed as a C. chinense. Recent DNA tests have found both C. chinense and C. frutescens genes.
It is also called Bih Jolokia in some places of Assam (Bih = 'poison', Jolokia = 'chili pepper'; in Assamese). Other names are Bhut Jolokia (Bhut = 'ghost', probably due to its ghostly bite or introduction by the Bhutias from Bhutan poison chili), Oo-Morok in Manipur (Oo = 'Tree', 'Oo' pronounced as in Book, Morok = 'Chilli'), Borbih Jolokia, Nagahari, Nagajolokia, Naga Morich, Naga Moresh and Raja Mirchi ('King of Chillies'). Regardless of the nomenclature, they all refer to the same plant. The word Naga stems from Nagaland and the Naga Community.
Ripe Nagas measure 60 mm to 85 mm long and 25 mm to 30 mm wide with an orange or red color. They are similar in appearance to the Habanero pepper, but have a rougher, dented skin—a main characteristic of the Naga.
In 2000, scientists at India's Defence Research Laboratory (DRL) reported a rating of 855,000 units on the Scoville scale, and in 2004 an Indian export company called Frontal Agritech obtained a rating of 1,041,427 units, which would mean it is almost twice as hot as the Red Savina pepper and roughly equal to the similar-looking Dorset Naga, which is derived from the Naga Jolokia. For comparison, pure capsaicin rates at 15,000,000–16,000,000 Scoville units.
In 2005 at New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute near Las Cruces, New Mexico, Regents Professor Paul Bosland found Naga Jolokia grown from seed in southern New Mexico to have a Scoville rating of 1,001,304 SHU by HPLC.
In February 2007, Guinness World Records certified the Bhut Jolokia (Prof. Bosland's preferred name for the pepper) as the world's hottest chili pepper.
The effect of climate on the Scoville rating of Naga Jolokia peppers is dramatic. A 2005 Indian study that compared the percentage availability of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin in Naga Jolokia peppers grown in both Tezpur (Assam) and Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) showed that the heat of the pepper is decreased by over 50% in Gwalior's more arid climate (similar temperatures but less humid, much lower rainfall)
Dorset Naga cultivar
The cultivar Dorset Naga pepper (cultivar status in process) is grown in West Bexington, Dorset, England. It was developed through simple plant selection by Michael and Joy Michaud. Samples sent to two different U.S. laboratories in early 2006 reported heat ratings of 876,000 and 970,000 Scoville units. In 2006, BBC Gardener's World used the services of Warwick Horticulture Research International to test the Scoville score of this cultivar, and obtained a 1.6 million SHU result.
The pepper is used as a spice in food or eaten alone. Consumption should be regulated, especially in the pepper's natural unrefined form. One seed from a Naga Jolokia can sustain intense pain sensations in the mouth for up to 30 minutes before subsiding. Extreme care should be taken when ingesting the pepper and its seeds. It is used as a cure for stomach ailments. It is also used as a remedy to summer heat, presumably by inducing perspiration.
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