Elephants produce a huge amount of dung every day. 70kgs per animal, to be precise! Here are some interesting, and sometimes unexpected, uses for the by-product of these gentle giants.
1. Filling holes in the road. Some of the dung of Camp Jabulani’s elephants is used to fill ditches on Kapama Game Reserve’s roads, caused by erosion. The long, natural fibres in the dung act as a sieve, filtering sand and soil that would otherwise have washed downhill.
2. Paper. Since elephants only digest 45% of their food, and the waste product is mostly fibre, elephant dung can fairly easily be made into paper. Amazingly, an elephant can generate enough dung to make 115 sheets of paper a day. Dung over trees any day of the week, we say!
3. Fertiliser. Elephant dung makes for excellent compost. This is because they digest so little of their food. What is left is a pile of semi-digested leaves, grass and bark and fruit – very good for soil.
4. Fuel. Villagers living near Bandipur National Park, India use elephant dung for fuel. With woodcutting being prohibited, mounds of elephant excrement help poor villagers with a means of essential fuel.
5. Mosquito repellent. Elephant dung is a natural, non-polluting mosquito repellent. The smoke generated when the dung is burnt kills mosquitos (no, there is no need to apply the dung to the skin!)
6. Coffee. A herd of elephants in Thailand is being used to produce some of the world’s most expensive coffee. This exotic brew is made from beans eaten by a herd of elephants, and plucked a day later from their dung.
6. Beer. The Japanese brewery Sankt Gallen created a beer with elephant dung, which reportedly sold out immediately. The beer, which is called Un Kono Kuro, is made using coffee beans that have passed through an elephant.
7. Hydration. It may sound disgusting, but elephant dung could save your life. If you are lost in the bush, squeezing fresh elephant dung could provide you with enough moisture to keep you hydrated.