Wild elephants in Sri Lanka are dying from plastic from a large one

Hungry wild elephants search for food at a garbage dump. They also eat deadly plastic.

Achala Pussalla / AP

(dpa)

Sri Lanka wants to dig a ditch around a huge rubbish dump after several wild elephants died after eating plastic. This is the only way to keep the hungry animals from eating at the approximately 800 meter by 800 meter landfill, said a spokesman for the wildlife ministry of the German Press Agency. More than 20 elephants have died in this way in the past eight years.

Recently, the death of two elephants made national headlines after pictures of the animals in the garbage quickly spread. A video also made the rounds of wildlife officials pulling plastic from one animal’s rectum. In addition, Wildlife Minister Wimalaweera Dissanayake comes from the affected district of Ampara in the east of the country. An autopsy should confirm the cause of death of the two elephants.

But wildlife activists want more to be done for elephants. There are more than 50 landfill sites across the island nation south of India, from which wildlife also eat plastic. Around five elephants die this way every year.

Significantly more elephants are dying in Sri Lanka, however, because they are injured by explosive devices, are electrocuted by electric fences or are shot. Behind it are mostly farmers. Because people are increasingly settling in the habitat of elephants, they are destroying more and more fields and houses. Some are also killed by poachers who want their tusks. According to official figures, a total of 369 elephants died last year from non-natural causes. According to the last census ten years ago, there are around 6000 elephants in Sri Lanka.

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