Surprising Uses for Elephant Dung (Part One)
Elephants spend most of their lives eating, to the tune of about 250kg a day and the by-product of this excess is around 50kg of dung a day. In countries like Botswana, with high elephant populations, this can add up to a staggering amount of 650 000 kg a day.
With necessity being closely related to invention, it is not surprising that some useful and unusual applications have been developed over the years for this abundant waste product.
Most of what an elephant ingests during the day comes straight back out again, intact. About 55% of their dung consists of woody fibres which can easily be turned into paper once cleaned up. The elephants do most of the work - stripping bark from trees, softening it in their digestive systems and turning it into a substance not unlike wood pulp, which most conventional paper is made of. An average elephant can produce enough raw material to create 115 thick sheets of elephant dung paper with an attractive, rustic appearance that is used to create stationery and greetings cards, which are a lot more eco-friendly than those made from forest-grown paper.
Just like highly-priced civet coffee, which is created from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of civets, elephant-brewed coffee is becoming a trend in the Middle-East.
Called 'Black Ivory Coffee', this delicious brew is distilled by a herd of elephants in Thailand, who are currently popping out coffee beans at a rate of $500 per pound. Apparently the drink which is created from these beans has a sweet, fruity, chocolatey taste and is highly sought-after among connoisseurs. Apart from Thailand, there is only one other place on earth to acquire this beverage – at a small store in Texas, where all the profits are donated to elephant conservation.
Un Kono Kuro has got to hold the record as the world's fastest selling beer, having sold out online within minutes of its launch. The secret behind its success? You guessed it – elephant manure! Made from the same beans used to produce Black Ivory Coffee, the Sankt Gallen Brewery takes the fermentation process a step further to produce a mellow, sweet beer with a chocolate flavour. Chocolate-flavoured beer sounds good, regardless of where it came from.
That's not all either; there are still a few more rather intriguing uses for elephant dung… watch this space.