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The role of elephant poop in an economy

The role of elephant poop in an economy

Do you know how important animal poop can be? No? In China, the dung of flying squirrel is used as a cure for abdominal pain. Alaska Moose’s droppings are given as a souvenir by turning it into an earring. In the United States, bat guano was used to make gunpowder because it has Potassium nitrate. Bolivia uses the Llama’s dung to purify water. Thailand uses elephant dung to produce one of the world’s best coffees.

If the modern man can find out so much about “poop” its obvious ancient civilization at least had a glimpse of knowledge about it. So yes, Egyptians in the ancient times used Crocodile dung as a spermicide.

Ever wondered which animal’s poop Sri Lanka would use?

There is only one animal in Sri Lanka, which is worshipped by some, celebrated by many. They are gigantic in size. They are found everywhere in Sri Lanka irrespective of a road, jungle or special occasions. When it comes to cricket Sri Lankans say, “we roar” but our stadiums are shaken by the “trumpets”. Yes, we’re talking about the most loved and celebrated animal, “Elephas Maximus”. Well, its an elephant!

Sri Lanka has the highest density of elephant population in Asia with about 5,000 elephants island wide. They’re found roaming around in Yala, Wilpattu, Udawalawe National Park, etc. But they aren’t merely limited to the wild. This mega-herbivore plays an important role in all Sri Lankan ceremonies whether it’s a wedding or the annual Kandy Esala Perehara.

Pinnawala, a small village in the district of Kegalle is not only the home for the orphaned wild Asian elephants but also the home for elephant dung products. A small-scale industry was formed in 1997 in the Village of Pinnawala. From there, Sri Lanka’s successful journey of manufacturing products out of elephant poop began. Today Sri Lanka exports the products to Japan, Canada USA, and various other countries. The products vary from postcards to hanging elephant heads, all made of elephant dung.Elephant Poop Paper | Maximus Sri Lanka

The idea of producing “something” out of elephant dung came from Kenya. Even though Sri Lanka is the pioneer in creating a small scale cottage industry that produces commercial paper from elephant poop. An elephant digests only about 45-60% of what it consumes. So their dung is actually full of fiber. Its said that each 10kg of elephant poop can turn into about 600-660 sheets of A4 paper. However, quality and color of this paper differ according to the age, diet and dental state of an elephant.

From dung to paper

The elephant consumes jak leaves and kitul bark. Initial pulping happens inside the stomach itself. Collected dung is first cleaned and dried out. Then the dung is boiled for 5 hours to segregate fiber from the dung. The segregated raw material is colored and sundried once more. Afterward, its put into a frame to make papers. The dried paper is taken to manufacture various handmade products like photo frames, notebooks, etc.Elephant poop paper initiative in Sri Lanka

Supply is never a problem for Maximus (Pvt) Ltd, the company behind the elephant dung paper. An elephant poops about 16 times a day and they have 8 of them supplying the dung. Out of this, about 2 tonnes are utilized for production per day.

Launched in 1997, Maximus has been growing its efforts in raising awareness over the years. By 2014, the company saw its revenues jump from Rs. 650,000 to as much as Rs. 19 million. According to Thusitha Ranasinghe, Managing Director of Maximus, the company’s current clientele includes Japan, US, Australia, and Canada, along with a few hotels in Sri Lanka.

If you’re curious about finding out more about Maximus, you can click here.

 

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