Garbage Dump Elephants
The Case Against Garbage Elephants - The scientific evidence/proof of why elephants should be fenced from garbage dumps: While polyethylene may become evacuated from the intestine via feces, the highly concentrated human food waste may lead to alteration of the gut micro-flora, leading to the development of unfavorable conditions for cellulose digesting microbes. Changing of PH level in the gut causes alteration of gut micro-flora; harmful chemicals in the garbage often leads to the development of small ulceration. With continued ingestion of garbage, these ulcerations are likely to develop into major wounds due to various kinds of chemicals, poisons and microbial toxins. At the same time, elephants often remain near these garbage dumps instead of seeking other forage and sufficient water. These unfavorable conditions will enhance the gut wounds and secondary infection by bacteria and parasites which then leads to septicemia or nutritional absorption problems. This is veterinary surgeon Dr. Nihal Pushpakumara’s explanation about the problems associated with elephants’ feeding upon human garbage (edited for clarity) which lead to sickness and death. Furthermore, ingestion of millions of pathogenic bacteria through purified human food and dissemination and spreading of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria to all wildlife may become a huge problem in the future.
This is the case with Sri Lanka's elephants.
We strongly disagree with a well known elephant scientist who is quoted in the press as stating that more research needs to be done before corrective action is taken. There's already a solution to this problem, and it's proven to work...it is vertical fencing, as was recently installed at Hambantota's garbage dump (see video). This solution needs to be implemented nationwide....no rationalizations, please. While the scientist is expressing a pragmatist's opinion; the fuel of a conservationist is compassion. Elephants do not belong in human garbage dumps....period. Ethically, spiritually, and physically - they shouldn't be there. Plastics not only clog intestines, but their breakdown components lead to ulceration, liver and other internal failures. Sick, dying elephants result...all of them that reside in dumps will die premature deaths....all of them.
Saying elephants are better off eating garbage in a dump, rather than roaming free and taking their chances in nature, is like saying that my son is better off being addicted to heroin in a ghetto, than traveling freely around the world! There's always risk in being alive in true nature, whether you are a human or an elephant. I don't want to be in jail...an elephant doesn't want to be in a zoo, and it's certainly our responsibility to inhibit addiction to drugs or garbage! There's a saying - better to die free than survive in bondage! Winston Churchill said "... that it would be better to die fighting when there was no chance of victory than to live in bondage." As far as human deaths - the number of elephant caused deaths pales when compared to death by snakes, mosquitos and car accidents. Elephant caused deaths are sensationalized - like plane accidents...it is heavily reported when it happens.
Recently Dr. Tharaka, who is Director of Wildlife Health for Sri Lanka, viewed our videoblog about the Garbage Dump Elephants of Dambulla. He observed that an entire herd was there, babies included, and not just a few bull elephants as is typical. He decided to take action immediately - forcing local authorities to repair fences surrounding the dump, as is required by law. He explained that toxins buildup in the intestine and that immature elephants are most susceptible to clogged intestines and toxic poisoning. He has attended numerous post-mortem autopsies over the past few years and is expert on the subject. We couldn't be happier about our role in service to the elephants of Sri Lanka.
As a result of bad press and pressure from the DWD, vertical fencing was installed at the Hambantota dump this past year and is a success. The fencing is working, and is a fine example to be used elsewhere.
Elephant Lovers Rejoice! The Government is Banning Open Garbage Dumps! By our observation up to 10 percent of Sri Lanka's elephants are habituated to eating human garbage. Finally, the government will require all dumps in proximity to forest reserves to fence out the elephants. SavingGanesh has been the most persistent and vocal voice on this matter and we are so very pleased with this ruling. We are monitoring compliance to this new ruling.