While hanging with my sister in her room today, I rediscovered a fascinating little book about elephants, and I just had to share it with y'all. This book is actually a small journal, with completely blank pages (even though my sister has had it for years). Like many other journals these days, this one is made from completely organic resources, so this little fact isn't anything special.
So why blog about it? Well, it's made completely from poop!
Yep, you read that right. my sister's little journal is made completely out of elephant poop, digested and gathered in Thailand! Just to reassure you, it carries no smell whatsoever, which is why it's still in our house.
Now, you may not find this discovery a very exciting one, but I would disagree. In my opinion, this little journal carries a great hope for a very important species. As you'll know if you've followed my blog for a bit, both African and Asian elephants are critically endangered, with less than 400,000 present on the African continent and less than 60,000 left in Asia. With the disappearance of their habitat and the constant struggle of human-elephant conflict, Asian elephants stand very little chance of survival in the wild.
The Scoop on the Poop
So, where does poopoo paper come in? Well, elephants, like other herbivores, produce very fertile poop. In fact, elephant poop is extremely good for soil, since elephants only digest 40 percent of the nutrients they take in, leaving a great deal of plant food left in their dung.
The POOPOOPAPER company has been collecting this poop for several years from sanctuaries, parks and other elephant homes in Thailand. The poop is then made into paper through a fascinating process, and little books like my sister's are the result!
It may be a bit of a stretch for you, but I believe that this industry is helping to save Asian elephants. Because elephants and humans are butting heads over the land in Asia, elephants are seen as a nuisance to farmers and villagers. They have a habit of raiding fields during mealtimes that doesn't exactly endear them to people, who will sometimes resort to shooting the elephants to decrease their losses.
A Dung-tastic Industry
By using elephant products as a resource (and I don't mean their ivory tusks), this company is creating a cash flow from these large "nuisances". The poop is collected from local sources that house retired or injured elephants, which gives them a cash flow to support these creatures. The dung is then turned into usable products that's marketable around the globe, creating a thriving establishment to help feed the local business community. Not to mention it's environmentally friendly and sustainable.
The Other Guys
The POOPOOPAPER company doesn't just process elephant poop. It also sells paper made from the dung of these animals:
Kerry Skiff is a conservation advocate and recent journalism graduate of Northern Kentucky University. She follows the ivory trade around the world, and uses her voice to educate Americans about their role in animal conservation.