Elephants are dying from plastic waste dumps in Sri Lanka

In recent years, researchers in Sri Lanka have become more aware about the growing issue of elephants consuming plastic. In the last 8 years, over 20 elephants have died in the Pallakkadu village in the Ampara district, due to eating plastic. Around many of these villages are garbage dumps, which are filled with food wrappers, plastic, polythene, and many other non-digestible items. This causes for elephants in the surrounding area to wonder towards the dumps and eat the trash. This trash has the ability to cut their insides and block digestive systems. As they consume more trash, it will build up to the point where they are too weak and heavy to locate water and food. On top of that, elephants that wonder into cities can be killed by villagers who want to protect themselves, or angry farmers that don’t damage to their land. This problem has dropped the population of elephants in Sri Lanka by over half within the past century.

“Elephants are revered in Sri Lanka but are also endangered. Their numbers have dwindled from about 14,000 in the 19th century to 6,000 in 2011, according to the country’s first elephant census.”

LA Times

Attempts have been made to protect these elephants but have not been fully successful. In 2017, the Sri Lanka government made plans to recycle the waste near wildlife zones, and set up electric fences around these areas to steer animals away from waste dumps. Within the wildlife zones, there are around 54 waste dumps with 300 elephants near them. This means that all 300 elephants have easy access to these waste dumps and have nothing to stop them form doing so. In 2014, the electric fences that were put around the wildlife zones were either unmanaged or broken. This caused for wildlife to escape back into the waste areas and continue to eat more trash. Also, this has led wildlife to revisit villages and continue to terrorize the area in search for food. Even though elephants pose danger to citizens and their homes, they are also a huge resource in their country. This means that plans need to be made in order protect both humans and elephants in way that can preserve agriculture and the environment around it.

Published by Colin Cuff

Hi I'm Colin Cuff. I'm a Junior at La Canada High School. I'm focused on cleaning up our oceans and making the Earth a more livable place for future generations.

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