PINNAWELA (Sri Lanka): For keepers and mahouts alike, it was always a messy problem that defied solution.
We are talking about the roughly 180 kg of waste an adult pachyderm generates a day. And imagine the pile if it were from a herd of 60 staying and sauntering about in one place. That is simply a problem of elephantine proportions at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage here in Sri Lanka, especially for the poor keepers.
But it need not be anymore. For, the orphanage, counted among the best in the world for elephants, has just come up with a solution, as a group of visiting journalists from Hyderabad found out. The caretakers have started producing eco- friendly paper from elephant dung.
They found that each elephant could help produce 115 sheets of paper. Or, rather, enough dung to make them. The paper that looks similar to the handmade one from tree fibre is being turned into stationary, name cards, calendars, photo frames/ albums, boxes and just about any memorabilia.
Poor digesters that they are, jumbos leave out 50 per cent of what they consume and the dung they produce is fibre-rich for making paper. The process involves washing and boiling the dung, bleaching, adding colour, sifting evenly into frames, drying and then flattening the surface. And no, the dung paper does not stink and it is cent percent bacteria-free.
By literally producing paper, elephants of the orphanage have joined the circle of conservation, as the profits from the sale of these paper items are ploughed back for their care and protection. Unsurprisingly, no one visiting the orphanage leaves the place without buying some stationary item or the other. So, the next time you want to write to your beloved or place order for business cards, make use of this special signature paper from the elephant dung. You could be counted among the eco-warriors contributing your mite to reducing waste and the conservation of dwindling pachyderm population.
The orphanage, set up in 1975 with five orphaned baby elephants, today shelters about 60 and continues to be a big draw for foreign tourists to Sri Lanka.
6 months ago