Hungry Sri Lankan Elephants Eat Garbage In Heartbreaking Photos

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 01 Oct 2020 16:54
Hungry Sri Lankan Elephants Eat Garbage In Heartbreaking PhotosTharmaplan Tilaxan/Cover Images

Plastic pollution has long had a detrimental effect on sea life, and now we’re seeing increasing proof of the impact it’s having on land animals.

Extremely concerning photographs of elephants in Sri Lanka have emerged in which they are rummaging through and eating piles of rubbish at a landfill site.


Elephants would normally travel up to 30 kilometres each day to find food, but these Oluvhil Palakadhu elephants have had to change their behaviours to adapt to changes in the environment.

Watch the harrowing footage here:


The videos and photos were taken by Tharmaplan Tilaxan, a Jaffna-based photographer who has long watched the elephants and chose to document their behaviours in a bid to raise awareness.


Speaking about what he’s observed over the past few months, Tharmaplan said:

In the eastern province, a herd of wild elephants have picked up a peculiar – and sad – habit: since of late, these elephants have been seen foraging for food in garbage dumps. One garbage dump – situated near an area near known as ‘Ashraf Nagar’ close to the forest bordering the Oluvil-Pallakadu area in the Ampara district – is considered the cause of this new, destructive and unhealthy habit.

Tharmaplan Tilaxan/Cover Images

As a result, these elephants are ingesting microplastics and polythene, which leads to large quantities of undigested pollutants being found in their poo. According to Tharamaplan, a number of post-mortems carried out on elephant cadavers have yielded plastic products and non-digestive polythene in their stomach contents.


He explained:

The herd of wild elephants – numbering about 25-30 – now accustomed to feeding so close to human habitat have also begun to invade nearby paddy fields and villages seeking more food adding more tension to the already fraught relationship between the villagers and the wild animals.

Despite a number of roundtable discussions with authorities that arrived at many solutions – including the construction of a reinforced fence around the garbage dump – no action has been taken to prevent the wild elephants of Oluvil from entering the urban areas in search of food, predominantly in garbage dumps.

Tharmaplan Tilaxan/Cover Images

Tharmaplan added, ‘The frequency of elephant casualties is a call to all stakeholders to unite and arrive at a solution that will resolve this issue as soon as possible.’


Hopefully his efforts will pay off in helping the elephants.

Just last month, heartbreaking photos emerged of two polar bear cubs playing tug-of-war with a plastic bag they had found in the snow, before eating ‘a good chunk of’ it.

The unsettling images, which were captured by Arctic expedition leader Jens Wikström, from Gothenberg, Sweden, further serve to highlight the growing severity of plastic pollution and the consequences for animals in the wild.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Animals, elephants, Now, Plastic, Plastic Pollution, sri lanka