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Heart-breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility

Wild elephants in Sri Lanka have been found with undigested plastic and polythene products in their stomachs after eating trash at a landfill encroaching on their habitat.

Photographer Tharmaplan Tilaxan took the heartbreaking images of foraging elephants in a scrap facility in Oluvil in Jaffna.

The open dump is hidden in the dense jungle of the eastern province. It endangers local elephant populations, who accidentally ingest microplastics in the garbage.

Mr. Tilaxan said: ‘In the eastern province, a herd of wild elephants has a strange and sad habit.

Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility
Wild elephants in Oluvil, Sri Lanka, have been found with plastic products and non-digestive polythene in their stomachs after eating rubbish at a dump encroaching on their habitat
Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 1
A herd of 25 to 30 wild elephants regularly visits the open garbage dump in search of food, posing risks to their health
Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 2
The elephants walk through the large dump, which has waste supplied by districts including Sammanthurai, Kalmunai, Karaitheevu, Ninthavur, Addalachchenai, Akkaraipattu and Alaiyadi Vembu
Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 3
The open garbage dump is nestled in the jungles of the Eastern Province and poses hazards to the local elephant population, who accidentally eat microplastics in the waste

‘Since the end, these elephants have been seen foraging in landfills.’

The landfill is close to the forest bordering the Ampara district. It is believed to be the cause of the new unhealthy behavior.

The garbage from districts such as Sammanthurai, Karaitheevu, Kalmunai, Ninthavur, Addalachchenai, Akkaraipattu, and Alaiyadi Vembu are dumped there.

The landfill was slowly creeping into the nearby forest, becoming easily accessible to the elephants.

Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 4
An elephant looks out over the huge, open rubbish dump in search of food. The ground is littered with plastic bags and dangerous waste
Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 5
Two elephants eat search for food in the dump, as scavenger birds join to pick off what is left. While there was a fence erected around the dump, it is now broken and unable to prevent the elephants from entering
Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 6
A garbage dump situated near Ashraf Nagar close to the forest (pictured) bordering the Ampara district is considered the cause of the new unhealthy habit
Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 7
With the enlarging of the dump, the forest is now covered with polythene bags, discarded plastics and other dangerous waste

Although the fence was set up around the landfill, it has now been broken and cannot prevent them from entering.

Since the landfill was expanded, the forest has been covered with polythene bags, discarded plastic, and other trash.

Large amounts of undigested contaminants have been found in the excretions of wildlife.

Elephant postmortems showed undigested polythene and plastic products in their stomachs.

The Elephant herd is now accustomed to foraging too close to human habitats. They have also begun to penetrate the nearby rice fields and villages, searching for more food, causing additional stress. The relationship was inherently strained between the villagers and the wildlife.

Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 8
The herd of of 25 to 30 elephants now accustomed to feeding so close to human habitat have also begun to invade nearby paddy fields and villages seeking more food
Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 9
Three Oluvil elephants stand next to each other in their natural jungle habitat. The dump has slowly encroached on the adjacent forest, becoming easily accessible to the elephants
Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 10
Large quantities of undigested pollutants have been found in the excretion of the wild animals. Elephant postmortems have shown plastic products and non-digestive polythene in their stomachs
Heart breaking images show elephant herd eating garbage at Sri Lankan refuse facility 11
Waste from districts including Sammanthurai, Kalmunai, Karaitheevu, Ninthavur, Addalachchenai, Akkaraipattu and Alaiyadi Vembu is dumped there

Despite some roundtable discussions with the authorities that have come up with various solutions – including constructing a fortified fence around the landfill – no action has yet been taken to stop the Oluvil wild elephants infiltrate into urban areas in search of food, mainly in landfills.

Elephants typically travel more than 30 km (19 miles) a day and seed up to 3,500 new trees per day.

Wild Elephants with relaxing music

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