A number of elephants have died after eating plastic from a garbage dump in Chobe National Park in Botswana. The Chobe District Council says it has no choice but to continue dumping trash at the site.
Elephants, hyenas, baboons and birds all gather at the dumping site in Chobe to feed. Just this year, three elephants have died after consuming plastic from the garbage heap.[social_buttons]
Thunya Sedodoma, the principal wildlife warden in the park, said that last year, plastics were found in the stomach of a dead elephant. She said it is not uncommon to see plastic in the feces of elephants. Sedodoma said that this year alone, the park has recorded over 70 deaths of wildlife, all related to feeding from the garbage dump.
Isau Mbanga, the Chobe District Council secretary said they have no choice but to continue dumping garbage at the site while they construct a new landfill nearby: “We have a serious land problem in the Chobe, unlike other district councils. We are building the second landfill at the same site because we are trying to minimize land use,” he said. He said that the Chobe District Council does not have compactors to bury the rubbish, although it is hoped that they will be able to buy the equipment within a few months.
Mbanga did say that the new landfill will have an electric fence meant to keep wildlife, including elephants, away from the garbage.
Now I won’t pretend to have any grand ideas about how to solve the problem of elephants consuming plastic from a landfill in Botswana. Nor do I think it would be fair to complain, as I am not living a plastic-free life. However, it is a poignant and painful reminder to me of how no trash ever simply “goes away.”
In Sonoma County, California, where I live, we filled up our landfill in 2005, and now have reserved space at the new one being built on the Cortina Indian Rancheria in Colusa County, 150 miles away. On an Indian Reservation!
This story of the Botswana elephants is just another daily reminder to myself to be careful, to do everything I can to keep as much out of the waste stream as possible. Another reminder to be diligent about using cloth bags, reusable containers and lunchboxes, to keep composting, even in the city, to recycle my boxes, and wash out my plastic bags.
Source: Mmegi Online
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons