Surprising Uses for Elephant Dung (Part Two)
We've already established in part one to this series, that the copious amounts of waste produced by elephants can be used to create trendy coffee, beer and hand-made paper, but elephant manure also has some more practical uses, such as:
Always eager to conserve the environment, zoos and animal sanctuaries have taken animal-poop technology even further by enlisting the help of herbivores to produce a source of green energy.
By means of biogas digesters, these waste products are broken down into methane and carbon dioxide which release energy in the process - enough to produce heat, electricity and gas for stoves. Naturally, elephants are the greatest contributors when it comes to the basic ingredients required in this process, and while the world may not be ready to switch over entirely to elephant-power, every bit of green energy created helps.
It stands to reason that the creatures which find themselves surrounded by the evidence of elephants in their 'hood' have also found useful ways to take advantage of this resource.
Beetles, crickets, millipedes and scorpions carve homes for themselves out of elephant manure, while honey badgers, frogs and meerkats are often seen pawing through balls of elephant dung in search of these inhabitants. This also serves to spread the dung around so that it can enrich the surrounding soil. While this use for elephant dung may not directly impact on us as a species, anything which influences the environment, will eventually have an effect on our daily lives.
Should you ever find yourself stranded in the wilderness, elephant dung is a handy and plentiful source of insect repellent. While the thought of applying excrement to your skin may seem distasteful to some, simply lighting a ball of dried up dung is enough to get mosquitoes and other unwanted insect visitors to buzz off. The smoke from elephant dung is also reported to ease pain in an instant when inhaled, and is particularly effective in relieving headaches, although the thought of it is quite repellent in itself!
Coffee and beer are not the only liquids that can be extracted from elephant droppings either, enough water can be squeezed from a ball of elephant dung to get you out of the doo-doo should you be left out in the woods without any liquids. Surprisingly there is very little bacteria in the water extracted in this way, and survivors report no ill effects from drinking it.
Ask your ranger to demonstrate some of these survival techniques on your next game walk.