Greenpeace Southeast Asia

People-Elephant-Forest by Chuck Baclagon

_MG_4105-websizeThis is a photo of a People-Elephant-Forest talk which the TERF (Thai Elephant Research and Conservation Fund) usually conduct.  Their audience varies and this one that we conducted last Tuesday is the talk for school children.

TERF conducts these conservation awareness talks mainly in support of their thrust to reduce Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) elephants (particularly wild elephants) are sometimes known to wander out of the forest (because the forests are getting smaller, or the herds are getting too big for the forest to sustain them, that they usually encounter situations with communities, like trampling on cornfields and eating the crops.  This becomes a source of conflict, so that some people regard elephants as pests and sometimes even kill them.

The man behind TERF is Dr. Alongkot Chukaew who has been working on wildlife in Thailand for most of his life.  The talk with children basically introduces them to what makes an elephant special: its trunk, its ears, its eyes, and yes, even its dung.

Here’s a photo of a boy trying to throw dung over to a makeshift tray held by his schoolmates._MG_4120-websize

So what’s so special about elephant dung? As megafauna, elepahnats are animals on which a lot of other species depend.  Elephant dung actually attracts termites who make their homes out of it, which in turn get eaten by bigger animals and so on.

While we’re on the topic of dung, you must have seen by now the photo of tireless Greenpeace volunteers raking mud off the bed of a truck. That is, unfortunately part of the work we do during the caravan. When Elephants poo while walking (they can!), someone has to kick the dung to the side of the road or rake it out. Fortunately, elephant dung smells better than most other animals’ and is probably cleaner.

last feces fact of the day: elephants only digest 40% of what they eat, so their dung (which is enormous by any standard) is mostly undigested grasses.

Lea Guerrero

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