We share our planet with so many beautiful species of animals just trying to survive. As we humans develop cities and industries on wild lands, it’s always important to be mindful of how we’re affecting animal life.
Recent photos show the kind of negative impact we can have, as elephants in Sri Lanka are forced to look for food in a dangerous garbage dump built on their land.
The heartbreaking photos reveal a severe problem for the native elephants after the massive garbage pile disrupted their natural behavior.
The photos were taken by local photographer Tharmaplan Tilaxan, who observed the elephants in the garbage dump for months.
“For the Oluvhil Palakadhu elephants many things have changed and their changed behavior will change our landscape,” Tharmaplan told Cover Images.
This is a widespread problem in the country: AFP reported in 2018 that hundreds of Sri Lanka’s elephants had foraged through garbage for food.
“Sri Lanka considers elephants to be a national treasure, but we see these animals reduced to eating rubbish,” Jayantha Jayewardene, an expert on Asian elephants, told AFP.
“It is a sad sight to see national treasures picking through rotting rubbish.”
The elephants were observed to be no longer foraging through the jungle but waiting for the next garbage dump, acting like “zoo animals.”
The change in behavior could also be detrimental for the animals’ health: exposure to the garbage dump could shorten their lifespans. They can also be poisoned by plastics.
Their drastic change in behavior could also cause changes in the ecosystem.
“Elephants normally travel over 30 km per day and seed up to 3500 new trees a day,” Tharmaplan Tilaxan told Cover Images.
According to AFP, the Sri Lankan government is aware of the problems, and have imposed a ban on illegal dumping, but are having difficulty enforcing the law.
These poor elephants. We hope drastic action is taken to help these beautiful animals before it is too late!
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