Elephants do so much more for their environments than knock down trees and dig up holes. Their dung is being used in many creative ways to solve problems, create treats and help elephant conservation.
The For Elephants team of African elephant researchers wants to share with you some ways elephant dung is used and how it is helping elephant conservation research.
The diet of an elephant
The average wild elephant eats about 600 pounds of food in just one day. It spends most of the day and night eating and searching for food. Wild elephants typically consume tree branches, bushes, bark and fruits.
Elephants in zoos have different eating habits. According to the Cleveland Zoological Society, an African elephant in a zoo can eat up between 100 to 400 pounds of food each day. Since these animals do not have to search for their food, they typically eat hay and large branches.
How much dung do elephants produce?
After an elephant eats all that food, it has to go somewhere, right? It comes out the other end as poop, also known as elephant dung. An elephant’s diet consists of fibrous food that passes through the body undigested and gets pooped out in a ball form. The San Francisco Zoo & Gardens states that an African elephant can produce up to 300 pounds of dung each day.
Uses of elephant dung
With all that elephant dung that gets dumped every day, people are getting creative and finding useful elephant dung purposes. Take a look at how some uses for elephant dung.
Believe it or not, but elephant dung is being used to create paper. The elephant dung is collected, washed and boiled, then is mixed with paper waste. Once it has been mixed, it is spread out on sheets to dry. This paper can be used for notebooks, posters and books. Some zoos worldwide use and sell elephant dung paper to raise awareness of the importance of saving elephants from poachers.
Did you know there was a thing as elephant dung coffee? Well, there is such a thing as elephant dung coffee and it is considered one of the world’s most expensive coffee. This coffee is produced after an elephant consumes the coffee beans and poops it out. The elephant’s stomach enzymes give the coffee a sweet and fruity taste to the beans. It is considered to be a tea-coffee hybrid.
Elephant dung is also helping farmers and the environment. Its waste is an excellent compost. An elephant’s stomach does not digest all the plants. Leaves, grasses, bark and fruits are semi-digested and pooped out. Farmers can use it in their soil to help keep it fertilized and healthy.
When it comes to saving elephants, elephant dung is helping researchers. African elephant researchers, like For Elephant’s team, are using laboratory kits to test stress and reproductive hormones from elephant dung. This information can help us figure that out to ultimately provide the best care for elephants in zoos and help improve their reproductive rates.
Want to help African elephant researchers?
You can help For Elephant’s African elephant researchers with a small donation. These donations will help us purchase laboratory supplies to help the elephants in our care! Donate or buy our For Elephant t-shirts!