The Sri Lankan government announced on Monday (November 30th) that it had started building trenches and installing electric barriers to prevent elephants from eating plastic in landfills, causing them to die.
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Plastic is a major cause of death for elephants in Sri Lanka, with autopsies showing that they have kilos of it in their stomachs after digging through landfills.
The Department of Wildlife Conservation said the number of landfills had been reduced from 54 to 15 since 2017, but the problem persisted at nine sites.
We have started work on two landfills in Amapara district, and we hope to complete it early next year
,” the department said.
The oblique trenches will be nearly two meters deep, to protect the elephants.
Sri Lanka has only some 7,000 elephants left, according to the last census, up from 12,000 at the start of the last century.
Most are shot or poisoned by farmers trying to push them away from their land, but a large number also die after ingesting plastic waste.
Sri Lanka had already announced in August that legislation was in the works to ban the import of most plastic products that end up in landfills.
From January, single-use plastic products will be banned.
Sri Lanka has already banned since 2017 the manufacture or import of non-biodegradable plastic intended for packaging food or for plastic bags.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has given wildlife officials until mid-2022 to execute a plan that could end human-elephant conflict, which has claimed more than 200 lives and claimed lives to over 600 elephants in the past two years.