Plastics And Threat To Asian Elephants

Elephants, the largest land animals with brains exceeding 250 billion neurons, have once again demonstrated their remarkable intelligence, showcasing their problem-solving prowess. In a study published in Animal Behaviour, wild elephants at Thailand's Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary have been observed unlocking puzzle boxes to access a tantalizing reward of jackfruit.

Plastics are a World menace and no one is spared from the Himalayas to the depth of the oceans. A new study has found that they are posing threat to Asian Elephants with the researchers finding an alarming presence of plastic, glass and metal in the dung samples of these elephants in Uttarakhand, India.

In the study, “Plastic ingestion in Asian elephants in the forested landscape of Uttarakhand”, the researchers found that ‘out of 75 elephant dung samples, 24 had a significant proportion of plastics.

Uttarakhand is home to nearly 2,000 jumbos,


The researchers claimed that it was the first systematic documentation of non-biodegradable waste ingestion by Asian elephants,

The researchers said that about 30 per cent of dung samples had anthropogenic waste. In this anthropogenic waste, 85% had plastic content. They also came across sachets of ketchup, broken glass bulbs, aluminium filaments, rubber bands, clay pottery, copper wires and plastic cutlery like spoons and forks.

They also came across as many plastic particles in samples collected from inside forest as compared to forest edge. A higher count of non-biodegradable anthropogenic waste (glass, metal, rubber bands, clay pottery and tile pieces) was obtained from samples collected inside the forest area samples as compared to forest edge samples. Higher proportion of macroplastic retrieved than micro plastic.

The researchers said that high plastic presence in elephant dung highlighted its widespread use near protected habitats and lack of waste segregation practices underlining the vulnerability of wild animals to plastic ingestion risk

Dung samples were collected from Huidwar and Lansdowne forest divisions, which share a boundary with Rajaji National Park. Samples collected 2-3 km inside the forest had more plastic content as compared to the ones collected outside the area, researchers said.


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