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Video: How UAE zookeepers are making paper from elephant dung

uae zookeepers, paper, elephant dung, elephant, poo

Abu Dhabi - Elephants digest only around 45 per cent of their food making their dung rich in fibre and ideal for making paper.



by

Nilanjana Gupta

Published: Sat 12 Oct 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 12 Oct 2019, 1:53 PM

Emirates Park Zoo has two female elephants - 50-year-old Radha and 47-year-old Madhu. They were both rescued from a circus company in India and soon became some of the most loved members at the zoo in Abu Dhabi.
Besides their cucumber eating and football playing skills, they have another unique attribute - fibre-filled dung. Elephants digest only around 45 per cent of their food making their dung rich in fibre and ideal for making paper.
Vasundara Kariyawasam, education manager at the Emirates Park Zoo, said: "We wanted to step up our conservation efforts and so we came up with this initiative of making paper using elephant dung. We started the process in September last year. As you know, many people kill elephants for their tusks and ivory trade harms the elephants as well as the environment. We wanted to send a message that elephants are profitable in a humane way."

Kaita Ivan, zoo educator at the zoo, added: "We sell the paper for Dh25 and 20 per cent of the proceeds go towards the Wildlife Alliance in Cambodia specifically for rescued and orphaned elephants. So through our initiative, we are conserving elephants."
How it's done
One kilogramme of dung can be used to make up to 20 pieces of special A4-sized paper in three hours. Two to three people at the Emirates Park Zoo devote three days a week to produce about 240 such papers in a month without using any machine. And no, it doesn't stink.
"Once you collect the elephant dung, you have to wash it seven times with water. After that you have to wash it again with sodium hydroxide seven times to kill the bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. We are then left with the undigested fibre and we mix it with the waste paper collected from the offices at the Emirates Park Zoo to make pulp. Once the pulp is ready, we spread it out into thin sheets and put it out to dry or simply use a hair dryer," said Ivan.
Approximately, 400,000 elephants are left in the world. While the number continues to decline, there are still reasons, such as this, to be hopeful that we can save the largest land animals.
- nilanjana@khaleejtimes.com


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