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Elephants die from consuming plastic in Sri Lanka

Elephants die from consuming plastic in Sri Lanka

SRI LANKA. — Conservationists and veterinarians warned that plastic waste from a dump in the east of Sri Lanka is it so killing elephants in the region, after two other bodies were found over the weekend.

Around 20 elephants have died in the past eight years after consuming plastic garbage at the dump in the village of Pallakkadu in Ampara district, some 210 kilometers (130 miles) east of Colombo, the capital.

Examinations of the dead animals showed that had swallowed large amounts of plastic, found in the dump, said veterinarian Nihal Pushpakamura.

“Polyethylene, food wrappers and other indigestible material and water were the only things we could see in the postmortems. The normal food that elephants eat and digest was not present,” he said.

The elephants are revered in Sri Lanka, but they are in danger. Their numbers have fallen from about 14,000 in the 19th century to 6,000 in 2011, according to the first census of elephants in the country.

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Every time are more vulnerable due to the loss and degradation of their habitat. Many venture closer to human settlements looking for food and some are killed by poachers or by farmers furious at the damage they cause to their crops.

the hungry elephants look for garbage in the landfill, consuming plastic and sharp objects that damage their digestive system, Pushpakumara said.

“The elephants then stop eating and become too weak to stand. When that happens, they can’t consume food or water, which hastens their deaths,” he said.

In 2017, the government announced that it would recycle garbage in landfills near wildlife areas to prevent elephants from consuming plastic. He further said that electric fences would be placed around the sites to keep the animals away. But none of those steps have been fully implemented.

exist 54 garbage dumps in areas with wildlife in the country; and about 300 elephants live in its vicinity, according to authorities.


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