Two more ‘Dumbos of the Dump’ lose their lives: An elephant couple dies at a Sri Lankan garbage dump

Two elephants died in a Sri Lankan waste facility, where animals accidentally ate plastic while foraging, months after images of their plight shocked animal lovers around the world.

About 20 elephants have died in the last eight years after consuming plastic waste at a landfill in the village of Pallakkadu in Ampara County, about 200 miles east of the capital Colombo.

Examination of the dead animals showed that she swallowed a large amount of non-degradable plastic, which is found in a landfill, said veterinarian Nihal Pushpakumara.

Two elephants died in a garbage facility in Sri Lanka, where animals accidentally eat plastic while foraging, months after images of their plight shocked animal lovers around the world.  Pictured: The body of a wild elephant lies in an open dump in the village of Pallakkadu in Ampara district, about 130 miles east of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

Two elephants died in a Sri Lankan waste facility, where animals accidentally ate plastics while foraging, months after images of their plight shocked animal lovers around the world. Pictured: The body of a wild elephant lies in an open dump in the village of Pallakkadu in Ampara district, about 130 miles east of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

About 20 elephants have died in the last eight years after consuming plastic waste at a landfill in the village of Pallakkadu.  Pictured: Elephants are selling a pile of rubbish looking for food

About 20 elephants have died in the last eight years after consuming plastic waste at a landfill in the village of Pallakkadu. Pictured: Elephants are selling a pile of rubbish looking for food

Examination of the dead animals showed that she swallowed a large amount of non-degradable plastic, which is found in a landfill, said veterinarian Nihal Pushpakumara.

Examination of the dead animals showed that she swallowed a large amount of non-degradable plastic, which is found in a landfill, said veterinarian Nihal Pushpakumara.

Elephants are worshiped in Sri Lanka, but they are also endangered.  According to the country's first census of elephants, their number fell from about 14,000 in the 19th century to 6,000 in 2011.

Elephants are worshiped in Sri Lanka, but they are also endangered. According to the country’s first census of elephants, their number fell from about 14,000 in the 19th century to 6,000 in 2011.

Pictured: Aerial view showing an open landfill in the village of Pallakkadu in Ampara District, about 130 miles east of the Sri Lankan capital, Monday, January 10, 2022

Pictured: Aerial view showing an open landfill in the village of Pallakkadu in Ampara District, about 130 miles east of the Sri Lankan capital, Monday, January 10, 2022

“Polythene, food packaging, plastics, other indigestible substances and water were the only things we saw at the autopsy. “The normal food that elephants eat and digest was not clear,” he said.

Elephants are worshiped in Sri Lanka, but they are also endangered. According to the country’s first census of elephants, their number fell from about 14,000 in the 19th century to 6,000 in 2011.

They are increasingly vulnerable due to the loss and degradation of their natural environment.

Wild elephants in Oluvil, Sri Lanka, were found with plastic products and non-digestive polyethylene in their stomachs after eating garbage in a landfill that interferes with their natural habitat.

Wild elephants in Oluvil, Sri Lanka, were found with plastic products and non-digestive polyethylene in their stomachs after eating garbage in a landfill that interferes with their natural habitat.

A herd of 25 to 30 wild elephants regularly visit an open landfill in search of food, which poses a risk to their health.

A herd of 25 to 30 wild elephants regularly visit an open landfill in search of food, which poses a risk to their health.

Many approach human settlements in search of food, and some are killed by poachers or farmers angry for damaging their crops.

Hungry elephants are looking for waste in the landfill, consuming plastics and sharp objects that damage their digestive system, Pushpakumara said.

“The elephants then stop eating and weaken to keep their heavy bodies upright. When that happens, they can’t consume food or water, which speeds up their deaths, “he said.

In 2017, the government announced that it would recycle garbage in landfills near wildlife zones to prevent elephants from consuming plastic waste. She also said that electric fences would be built around the places to keep the animals out. However, neither was fully implemented.

Elephants go through a large landfill that has waste supplied by districts including Sammanthurai, Kalmunai, Karaitheeva, Ninthavur, Addalachchenai, Akkaraipattu and Alaiyadi Vembu.

Elephants go through a large landfill that has waste supplied by districts including Sammanthurai, Kalmunai, Karaitheeva, Ninthavur, Addalachchenai, Akkaraipattu and Alaiyadi Vembu.

The open landfill is located in the jungles of the eastern province and poses a danger to the local elephant population, which accidentally eats microplastics in the waste.

The open landfill is located in the jungles of the eastern province and poses a danger to the local elephant population, which accidentally eats microplastics in the waste.

An elephant looks through a huge open garbage dump in search of food.  The earth is littered with plastic bags and hazardous waste

An elephant looks through a huge open garbage dump in search of food. The earth is littered with plastic bags and hazardous waste

Two elephants eat and search for food in a dump, while scavengers come together to pick up what's left.  While a fence was built around the landfill, it is now broken and cannot prevent elephants from entering

Two elephants eat and search for food in a dump, while scavengers come together to pick up what’s left. While a fence was built around the landfill, it is now broken and cannot prevent elephants from entering

There are 54 landfills in wildlife zones across the country, with officials saying there are around 300 elephants.

The waste management site in the village of Pallakkadu was established in 2008 with the help of the European Union. Garbage collected from the nine surrounding villages is dumped there but not recycled.

In 2014, an electric fence protecting the site was struck by lightning and the authorities never repaired it, allowing the elephants to enter and dig through the landfill. Residents say the elephants approached and settled near the waste pit, causing fear among the surrounding villagers.

The cause of the new unhealthy habit is considered to be a landfill located near Ashraf Nagar near the forest (pictured) bordering Ampara County.

The cause of the new unhealthy habit is considered to be a landfill located near Ashraf Nagar near the forest (pictured) bordering Ampara County.

With the expansion of the landfill, the forest is now covered with polyethylene bags, discarded plastics and other hazardous waste

With the expansion of the landfill, the forest is now covered with polyethylene bags, discarded plastics and other hazardous waste

A herd of 25 to 30 elephants, now accustomed to feeding so close to the human environment, have also begun to invade nearby rice fields and more food-seeking villages.

A herd of 25 to 30 elephants, now accustomed to feeding so close to the human environment, have also begun to invade nearby rice fields and more food-seeking villages.

Three elephants spoke standing side by side in their natural jungle environment.  The dump slowly encroached on the adjacent forest and became easily accessible to the elephants

Three elephants spoke standing side by side in their natural jungle environment. The dump slowly encroached on the adjacent forest and became easily accessible to the elephants

Many use firecrackers to drive away animals as they roam the village, and some have built electric fences around their homes.

But villagers often do not know how to install electric fences to keep them safe and “could endanger their own lives and the lives of elephants,” said Keerthi Ranasinghe, a local village councilor.

“Even though we call them a threat, wild elephants are also a source. The authorities must come up with a way to protect human lives and elephants, which will also allow us to continue our agricultural activities, “he said.

Large amounts of undigested pollutants were found in wild animal excrement.  The post-mortem necropsy of the elephants showed plastic products and non-digestive polyethylene in their stomachs

Large amounts of undigested pollutants were found in wild animal excrement. The post-mortem necropsy of the elephants showed plastic products and non-digestive polyethylene in their stomachs

Waste from districts including Sammanthurai, Kalmunai, Karaitheev, Ninthavur, Addalachchenai, Akkaraipattu and Alaiyadi Vembu is deposited there

Waste from districts including Sammanthurai, Kalmunai, Karaitheev, Ninthavur, Addalachchenai, Akkaraipattu and Alaiyadi Vembu is deposited there

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