Hungry Elephant's Poo
photo and text by Fujiwara Koichi


 写真・文 藤原幸一

  P1-7  total 4 photos  


This is a country in South Asia, near the equator.
A tropical rainforest jungle.

When I walked into the forest, I found lots of poo on the ground.
Very dark、very big and very fresh poo.
If I go further ahead, I might find the owner of this big poo.
Let's go!

I see a huge butt at the end of the road!
There is no doubt that this animal did the big poos.
The wild animal perhaps stunned by my voice, kept walking ahead and disappeared into the jungle.

 P8-17  total 6 photos   

All of a sudden black clouds gather in the sky.
A sign of rain.

Soon after it started to rain cats and dogs in the jungle.

When the stormy rain was over, a puddle of water was left behind.

There’s an elephant on the other side of the puddle.
The elephant uses its long nose to scoop up grass and carry it to its mouth.
Maybe it’s the big butt elephant I saw earlier in the forest.

The elephant uses its long nose to eat 150 kilograms of leaves and grass every day.
That's why the elephant’s body grows so big and creates big poo.
The elephant also drinks about 140 liters of water every day.
That's about 280 bottles of the 500 ml water bottles we often put in our bag.

Elephants make large herds and walk together through deep forests and waterfronts every day to look for food and water.
Elephants cannot survive without rich forests and plenty of waterways.

 P18-25  total 6 photos    


In the rainy season of the year.
In this elephant’s forest, something very abnormal has been happening.
Looking up at the sky, the sun shines over the forest.
For a long time, there’s not been a single drop of rain from the sky.
In tropical countries the rainy and dry seasons regularly come every year but recently it has not rained even in the rainy season.
When it does not rain, it is called a "drought."
There have been 9 droughts in the last 10 years in this area.
Above all, the drought in 2016 has become the worst in the last 40 years.

When a drought comes, plants do not grow, the leaves and grass become scarce, so the animals devour everything that’s left to eat.
If it doesn't rain, water in the swamps and rivers will gradually disappear and the elephants have trouble drinking water.
The air that covers the earth is mixed with “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide and methane.  These gases have heat absorbing properties.
The original function of these gases is to keep the earth warm enough for animals and plants to live. In recent years the gases have increased too much and overheated the earth.
This is called “global warming”.
Drought is considered to be largely affected by global warming.

An elephant searching for drinking water has come to a river with no water.

By digging the sand at the bottom of the river with its feet and nose the elephant has managed to find a bit of water to quench its thirst.

A skinny elephant has come to the border of the national park where the animals live.
When the elephant reaches the fence, it stretches its long nose to try and eat something on the other side, but it can’t quite reach it.
What the elephant finally picked up with its nose was a dried leaf.
There are not many animals that eat leaves and grass on the other side of the fence, so a lot of greenery remains.
In search of food and water, the elephant wants to leave the national park.

The national park is fenced in order to keep wild animals in.
A very strong electric current flows through the fence.
People are very worried that if the wild animals like elephants, leopards, deer and boards get out of the park, they will attack people, eat the crops and rice fields and steal the food for domestic cattle and pigs.
The fence is more than 1200km long and when animals touch it a very strong current flows, which causes the death of more than 20 elephants every year.
Even so, the hungry elephant will look for food along the fence.
Then, the elephant finds a broken spot in the fence where there’s no electricity.

 P26-31  total 3 photos     

Watch out!
One night, an elephant has crossed the fence and made its way to human civilization.
People driving cars are surprised at the appearance of the wild elephant!
Some cars drove back the way they came because the elephant was so overpowering.  An elephant can easily break and roll a car with its giant foot.

Even the people who were initially scared of the elephant started giving candy and fruits as religious offerings to the elephant.
The people of this country deeply believe in the teachings of Buddhism. People worship elephants as "the mother of the earth".
The elephant is like a god, a very important and sacred animal for the people.
The elephant is addicted to the sweet and delicious food offered by humans and doesn’t want to leave the road.
Before long, the same sweet smell as the food offered by people drifts on the breeze.
When the elephant follows the sweet scent…

The place the elephant reached was a rubbish dumping ground for people.
There was a foul smell made up of rotten food, fruits and sweet candy.

P32-37  total 3 photos      

Most of the smell comes from garbage stuffed inside plastic bags, which the hungry elephant will eat whole. 
The food inside the plastic bag contains artificial sweeteners, pigments to make food look delicious and medicine to stop food from rotting, all of which you won’t find in the forest.
Moreover, the plastic bag contains broken glass, sharp knives, wire rubbish, medicine to cure human disease and injury and nappies with baby and sick people’s poo and pee. None of which is safe for an elephant.

I found a big elephant poo on the ground near the rubbish dump site.
Unlike the black splendid poo I saw back in the forest, this one had a lot of plastic bags mixed inside.

I was packing my luggage to go back to Japan.
There was a dead elephant not far from the rubbish dumping site.
Since elephants are important and sacred animals, the police investigated why the elephant died.
It was a young female elephant who was dead.

There are no major injuries on the body.
It seems the cause of death was something in the internal organs most likely caused by eating strange things like plastic.
I returned to Japan feeling sad.
Ever since, I have never forgotten about the elephant that died.

 P38-40  total 3 photos      

The next year.
I was worried about the elephants and went back to the same place.
This year the drought had calmed down and so the trees and grass were flourishing.
Three elephants came out from the forest and began eating the grass and leaves very peacefully.
I was so happy that I was taking photos like crazy.
Using their nose to tear off leaves and grass, the elephants were eating very deliciously.

A mother elephant and her baby came to the waterside.
Watering each other, they look very happy.

When you read the QR code,
You can see a video of ‘the threat of elephant by plastic’.



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