Rare elephants died after eating human waste that could not be digested

by time news

2 Rare elephants were found dead last weekend near a landfill in Sri Lanka. The two, which belong to the endangered species of Asian elephants, have died from eating indigestible waste. They join at least 20 elephants that have died in the last 8 years for the same reason.

The incident happened near the village of Falkado, which is about 210 km from the capital Colombo. “The two elephants swallowed large amounts of waste,” said the veterinarian who operated on them. In a post-mortem. “He added that:” The worst thing is that no signs of food were found in their bodies that elephants usually eat. “

Living in mountains of garbage, a landfill near elephants in Sri Lanka | Photo: AP

The elephant population becomes more and more vulnerable over the years. The deterioration of their natural habitats is forcing them to migrate to areas inhabited by humans, which puts them at even greater risk when some are even killed by angry hunters and farmers whose crops have been destroyed following the migration of elephants.

The hungry elephants look for food and roam the nearby landfills, consuming plastic and consequently also sharp objects that harm their digestive systems. The vet added: “The elephants stop eating and become too weak to keep their heavy bodies upright. When this happens, they cannot consume food or water, which speeds up their deaths.”

Despite the many deaths, the elephant is a revered animal in Sri Lanka but also one that is endangered. In the 19th century, their number was about 14,000. Their number has dropped dramatically to 6,000, as of 2011. Veterinary conservationists have warned over the years that the presence of open landfills in eastern Sri Lanka poses a danger to elephants.

Rare elephants die from eating plastic and waste in Sri Lanka (Photo: AP)
Waste is all that is in their stomachs | Photo: AP

There are currently 54 waste sites located near wildlife in the country. The Sri Lankan government has tried over the years to find solutions, but has failed to implement them. In 2008, a site was established in the area that was supposed to recycle waste from 9 nearby villages, but the site, as of today, does not recycle. In 2014, the electric fence around the landfill was damaged by lightning, shut down, and has not been repaired to this day.

In other landfills in the country, the government has dug huge pits around landfills to keep elephants away, but as their habitats shrink, the solution also increases the risk of friction between humans and elephants. Many locals use firecrackers to expel the animals when they arrive near the villages, and some have even set up electric fences around their homes. Kirti Renasinga, a resident of the place, commented: “The villagers often do not know how to install the electric fences safely and may endanger their lives as well as the lives of the elephants.”

Rare elephants die from eating plastic and waste in Sri Lanka (Photo: AP)
Electric fences against elephants in Sri Lanka | Photo: AP

The problem of eating waste also applies to other wildlife. Sea turtles are always attracted to eating plastic, mainly because it smells like food. The danger of friction between humans and animals due to habitat loss is a problem that is found all over the world. For example, a town in Siberia whose inhabitants repeatedly suffered from the presence of polar bears in the area, who were looking for food in the wake of the melting glaciers.

These stories are a reminder – not only of our need to preserve nature, but also to prevent environmental pollution in the first place. The best way to ensure that elephants or any other creature is not found dead with a stomach full of plastic, is to prevent contaminants from reaching areas of animal natural habitat.

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