Posted By Lauriel O. Posted On

Heartbreaking Moment Elephant ᴄᴀʀᴄᴀssᴇs Consuming Plastic Are Lying In A Giant Landfill

Two elephants have ᴅɪᴇᴅ at a Sri Lankan refuse facility, where the animals accidentally eat plastic while foraging for food, months after images of their plight sʜᴏᴄᴋᴇᴅ animal lovers around the world.

Around 20 elephants have ᴅɪᴇᴅ over the last eight years after consuming plastic trash in the dump in Pallakkadu village in Ampara district, about 130 miles east of the capital, Colombo.

Examinations of the ᴅᴇᴀᴅ animals showed they had swallowed large amounts of nondegradable plastic that is found in the garbage dump, wildlife veterinarian Nihal Pushpakumara said.

‘Polythene, food wrappers, plastic, other non-digestibles and water were the only things we could see in the post mortems. The normal food that elephants eat and digest was not evident,’ he said.

Elephants are revered in Sri Lanka but are also ᴇɴᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴇᴅ. 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.

They are increasingly ᴠᴜʟɴᴇʀᴀʙʟᴇ because of the loss and degradation of their natural habitat.

Many ᴠᴇɴᴛᴜʀᴇ closer to human settlements in search of food, and some are ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ by ᴘᴏᴀᴄʜᴇʀs or farmers angry over damage to their crops.

Hungry elephants seek out the waste in the landfill, consuming plastic as well as sharp objects that ᴅᴀᴍᴀɢᴇ their digestive systems, Pushpakumara said.

‘The elephants then stop eating and become too weak to keep their heavy frames upright. When that happens, they can’t consume food or water, which quickens their ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ,’ he said.

In 2017, the government announced that it will recycle the garbage in dumps near wildlife zones to prevent elephants from consuming plastic waste. It also said electric fences would be erected around the sites to keep the animals away. But neither has been fully implemented.