Tag Archive | "elephant"

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Elephants : New Industrial Prospects

Posted on 04 June 2012 by RE Team

Money matters the most to our human civilization! It is the only factor that has made so many species extinct or endangered in Earth. Poaching for money, clearing forests for money driven factors are the main reasons for depletion of wildlife in our beautiful planet. But if human can extract the money from any wild species without harming them, then it will open a new horizon in the movement of saving wildlife. Such an inspirational story is slowly coming into focus from our very own Elephants. And to be precise its the Elephant Dung that making way for Industrial prospects in the South East Asia region! The industrial product from the true waste of this largest land mammal is ‘PAPER’. Unbelievable? But its quiet true!


Asiatic Elephant - courtesy nationalgeographic.com (Tim Laman)


The story of  this innovation starts in different countries in different contexts accidentally. In Thailand, the man behind the Elephant dung paper is Mr. Wanchai. On his way home from work he used to pass a natural paper factory and was impressed at the simplicity of the process that used natural tree fibers to make high quality hand made paper. He then took a trip to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang Northern Thailand and saw piles and piles of dung. He looked at the dung and noticed that the dung was very fibrous. This was the birth of the idea.

In India, the Elephant Dung paper, named as “Haathi Chaap” was started in 2003 Mahima Mehra, a psychology graduate and Jaipur-based handmade paper producer, Vijendra Shekhawat. “I and Vijendra were walking up to Amer Fort when the idea of making paper came to me as I saw mounds of elephant waste every few steps. It also has a lot of fibre which is main element of paper making,” says Mahima Mehra. Srilanka and Nepal also are also producing such papers, but the techniques are indigenous and different in each countries.


Elephant Dung - Now Opening new industrial prospects


Elephants apparently have a bad digestive system, which makes their dung highly fibrous. Elephants normally eat 200-300 kgs of plants and excrete more than 50% percent of it. 500 sheets of thin paper can be made out of 15kg of elephant dung. So it can be imagined how much productive is Elephant in Paper Industry!

All handmade paper is made using a fibrous material, and is boiled and beaten to make the fibre pulp. With elephant dung paper, the elephant has done the pulping for us, leaving us to collect the dung, clean it by boiling and steaming so all bacteria are killed, then putting the pulp in a shallow mold as usual. The coarseness of the paper is entirely dependent on the elephants diet, again making no two sheets identical.

These elephant dung papers are already getting popularity and are exported to various western countries. As Elephants are becoming money machines, keeping them alive is also becoming important. Hope this will save lives of many wild elephants along with many trees that are cut down for paper production.

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The True Orphanage of Asiatic Elephants

Posted on 19 May 2012 by RE Team

Yesterday, February 18th, 2011 has brought ome more cheer to the Pinnawela Elpephant Orphanage with fifty-fifth birth of baby elpehant in its existence of 40 years.

The Pinnawela Orphanage which is located in the town of Kegalle, Sri Lanka, is one of the most special orphanage in the world. Because it not only earth gives home to retired, abused, orphaned abd sick Elephants but also provides the breeding ground for the largest animal in Earth.

The Elephant Orphanage was originally started in 1972 in the Wilpattu National Park to support, protect and foster those baby elephants whose mothers were either poached or died in the jungle of Sri Lanka. In 1975 the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Sri Lanka relocated the orphanage to Pinnawela on a 25-acre (10 ha) coconut plantation on the Maha Oya river. At that time the orphanage had just five baby elephants. In 1982, the authorirites launch a breeding program in the Orphanage, which increased the number of elephants in Pinnawela gradually. Currently, the orphanage has 86 elephants including the cub borned yesterday. There are number of pregnant Elephants that are on wait to add more elephant population to the orphanage in coming months.


Elephants taking bath in river at Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage


Asiatic Elephants are known for their intelligence , calmness and domesticating capabilities. They show emotions  like humans. They cry, play, have incredible memories, and laugh. In the Indian sub-continent Elephants has been playing important role in the social culture since ages. Sri Lanka is no different in that and the Panniwela Orphanage is a by-product of this culture. Though the Orphanage also has an tourism and monetary angle, it has survived for decades due to the local human bonding  with elephants.

Unfortuantely the lack resources felt by both parties, human and wild Elephants, the conflicts between the two has increased over the years. Sri Lanka , home to around 3,000 wild elephants, see around 150-200 deaaths of wild elephants every years due to this conflict, against around 60-80 human casualities. Apart from the conflicts the political volatility and civil war  in region injured and killed. The responsibilities of the orphanage is increasing with the increasing bad breaths between the two species. More number of  baby elephants are coming into the orphanage every year due to these killings.

There Elephant Orphanage witnessed many emotional stories of Elephants over the decades. ‘Sama’ a female Elephant and a victim of war, came to the orphanage in 1995.  She had her right front foot blown away by a landmine when she was a two year old baby. She was well cared for, and grew up using her three legs and has reached the age of thirteen. Though in fututre she may undergo severe complication for her unbalanced body, she is given all the possible care by the orphanage. ‘Raja’ who was born blind in wild is also taken special care in the orphanage. He is not taken to bath with other elephants for his inability and also given special love and treatment. The youngest orphan in the orphanage is just a year old baby taken into Pinnawela in December, 2010.


Sama who lost her one leg in a landmine blast in 1995


The Elephants at Pinnawela are provided as much natural condition as possible. They mostly roam freely in parkland, are ‘herded’ by their mahouts (keepers) just before being taken to feeding sheds. The elephants are taken to the near by Maha Oya river twice a day for bath. All the babies under three years of age are still bottle fed by the mahouts and volunteers. Each animal is also given around 76 kilograms (170 lb) of green food a day and around 2 kg (4.4 lb) from a food bag containing rice bran and maize and enough water from the river.  Jackfruit, coconut, kitul, tamarind, banana and grass form the bulk of the green food given to the elephants at Pinnawela.

The breeding program in the Orphanage was started in 1982. Initially the breeding animals consisted of males Vijaya and Neela and females Kumari, Anusha, Mathalie and Komali. Vijaya was the first father in the orphanage. He with Kumari, a female elephant, have produced three calves at intervals of five and four years. With the fifty-fifth birth yesterday, it has produced more than twenty second generation Elephants.

Pachyderm, another innovation from the orphanage, is producing industrially successful Elephant Dung Papers. More than just a novelty stationery item, pachyderm paper could prove an important source of income to the villagers – & thus a significant help in conservation measures.

There are criticisms on the topics like chained Elephants, or forcing baby elephants to pose in tourists’ photo shots. But these can be neglected compared to the good work done by the orphanage. There is also need of chaining some of the Elephants coming fresh into the orphanage for the security of other elephants and mahuts, until they are tamed. Whatever may be the arguments, one thing to be agreed is that this small place in Sri Lanka is more home than a wild to many elephants. They are born, grown up in this world and may not be able to survive in wild. They now carry special bond with the mahuts and other workers in the orphanage. Its really wonderful to see innocent and cute baby elephants playing and enjoying life after losing their motherly love. They find love and security in the hands of the people.

We hope the orphahnge will keep doing the holisitc job and help more innocent and wild animals in future.

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Chasing The Largest Elephant

Posted on 02 May 2011 by RE Team

Almost half a century back, in 1954, in the remotes and dense jungles of Angola, Jose (Joseph) Fenykovi first saw the track of largest animal ever recorded in human history. It was an unbelievably big elephant track by the muddy shore of a lake.

Joseph Fenykovi, Hungarian-born resident of Spain, was an engineer and big game hunter. Every Year, Fenykovi and his wife would abandon Europe and take off for their 1,000-acre ranch in Angola to start their big-game sport spanning for three months.

It was Fenykovi’s sixth expedition to Africa when he first discovered the huge elephant track. When he measured the track, it came out to be 3 feet, a foot bigger than the largest elephant trophy recorded till date. At that moment he knew I knew that he was looking at the spoor of probably the biggest animal living on the surface of the earth. But due to lack of inventory and other resources he left that expendition without chasing that big monster.

On Novemeber 1955, Jose Fenykovi returned to Angola with all inventory to chase the never before-hunt game. On November 9, Fenykovi reached the same lake where he had seen the footprints last year. On 12th of November, they found a real big track around three feet in diameter. Thery were lucky to trace the elephant exactly a year later at the same place.

Finding the track of the biggest living land animal in the planet, Fenykovi didn’t delay chasing the same. Within hours his team chased the Elephant along with another large bull.

In Fenykovi’s word, “They were quite calm, lolling under some tall trees, slowly moving their huge ears in a fanlike motion. The smaller was an enormous beast, but my elephant was beyond my imagination. A real monster.”

In no time the hunters charged both the bulls. Six bullets from .416 Rigby was not enough to submit the largest elephant. Both the elephants ran away in moments from the view of the hunters.


Jose Fenykovi after killing the Largest Elephant


Fenykovi penned down these last moments of falling his elephant like this: “Before the echo of our shots died away, pandemonium started in the jungle. The crash and cracking of broken trees and branches sounded like an artillery battle. We did not stop to listen, but turned and ran as hard as we could for open country. Deep in a jungle was no place to be with two injured elephants you could not see and with a variable wind that could give our position away at any moment.

When we got 50 yards outside the thicket, we turned and waited for the chase. The wind by now was at our backs, carrying our scent straight to the great beasts. But the attack did not come. Inside the jungle the crash and tear of trees continued. We started to run around the thicket, which was fortunately small- about a mile and a half in circumference—keeping a good 50 or 60 yards from the edge of the forest.

This way we reached the place where we had left our jeep. I saw, to my astonishment, not 10 feet from the jeep the bloody tracks of the big elephant. He had passed the jeep only a few seconds before.

A little way from the jeep we found the tracks of the smaller beast who had taken off in the opposite direction from his larger companion. Fortunately for us, the two monsters had separated and now the job was not quite so dangerous. We had only one elephant at a time to worry about and he (the big one) had six .416 bullets and one from the .375 in his vitals.

We followed his trail through low bushes for a good three miles. Two or three times we got close enough to see him, but not in time for another shot. Finally the bloody trail entered another wooded thicket. Now we could not miss it even if we were blind. It was 4:30 p.m. Mario and I stopped with the jeep at the edge of the jungle. Francisco and Kukuya lunged into the thicket like a couple of bloodhounds on the scent. They had orders to locate the beast and call us. Mario and I both thought that with seven heavy-caliber bullets in him, losing blood and winded from a hard six-mile run in terrific heat, our elephant could not last much longer.

We waited for 20 minutes, and there was no word from Francisco and Kukuya. Mario asked me if he could go in to look for them. I hesitated. I thought we should both go. I like to finish off my trophies myself. But I was at the end of my endurance, after having been on the go since 5 a.m. Mario, who is 20 years younger than I am, argued that if we did not finish him off quickly it would soon be too dark to follow him, and then we might lose him altogether. I told Mario to go ahead. He disappeared like a cat into the jungle. Taking up a stand by the jeep facing the trees, I prepared to defend myself if the elephant should charge.

I waited a little over half an hour, growing ever more impatient but knowing it would be folly for me to go into the jungle alone. This was probably the hardest part of the whole thing – the waiting. All of a sudden I heard a shot from the .416, followed by another, and then two more: altogether four shots in rapid-fire succession. Afterward there was complete silence.

It did not surprise me that Mario had used four shots to finish off the beast. A fallen elephant can be one of the most dangerous animals in the world. There are many cases recorded in the history of big-game hunting when an elephant, knocked down and apparently dead, has suddenly got to his feet, or even without rising has killed the unwary hunter with a convulsive sweep of his trunk.

I awaited the arrival of one of the trackers with news. Instead, after about five minutes, I heard two more shots from the .416 and three from the smaller rifle. That surprised me, and I began to worry over having let Mario go in alone. I could hardly believe that the elephant, with six bullets of 400 grains each from the .416 and one 300-grain bullet from the .375 in him, had needed six more from the big gun and three from the smaller one to finish him off.

Finally, Kukuya burst out of the jungle running and, as he got within earshot, he gave voice to the brief but electrifying announcement:


There the enormous elephant lay on his side, amidst the carnage of blood, broken trees and trampled brush that had marked his last struggles. When I let my eyes roam over his vast expanse I could hardly believe that any animal could be so big, and I understood why it had taken so many heavy-caliber bullets to finish him off.I must confess the shock we got when I put the tape across my elephant’s foot and found that it measured, instead of the three feet of the spoor we had been following all day, only a little over two feet. The measurement was still a world record, but it was a foot short of the track size I had first noted a year before beside the lake. When we began to examine the body, we soon understood why: Besides the 16 bullets from our own rifles, we found a strange slug embedded in the left front leg. It was not a modern bullet, but a piece of iron shot, the kind used in old muzzle-loading flintlock rifles. It had crippled him in the left front leg, so that the step he took with that foot was shorter than normal. As the animal ran, the left hind foot partially superimposed its print over the front one, making it look much bigger than it actually was. ”

Fenykovi’s record of the Elephant which broke the previous record of Lawrence G. Thaw was like this:

Height From ground to withers, 13 feet 2 inches. (Thaw’s elephant: 12 feet 2 inches.)

Length From trunk tip to tail tip in straight line, 27 feet 6 inches; whole skin from trunk tip to tail tip, 33 feet 2 inches.

Length of feet Front, 2 feet; rear, 2 feet 1 inches. (Thaw’s elephant: one foot 9 inches, which foot not specified.)

Circumference of feet Front, 5 feet 7 inches; rear 5 feet 2 inches.

Circumference of body At widest point, 19 feet 8 inches.


Fenykovi's kill still preserved in the National History Museum


On March 6, 1959, Joseph J. Fenykovi gifted the elephant parts to the National Museum of Natural History. it is still in the display and is the land animal ever hunted.

At that time, Fenykovi probably never realized that within few years this animal will become endangered. None would like to kill such a gigantic gift of nature in today’s date. Its so precious to keep such wonders alive!

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Photos of Nature