Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Elephant Dung Paper 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Now, here's a product with a purpose; one that should tickle both the animal lover and inner child in everyone - elephant dung paper. The Thai National Elephant Institute Forest Industry Organization's Thai Elephant Conservation Center funds elephant aid efforts in that nation through the sale of handcrafted paper items manufactured from the copious amounts of insoluble vegetable fiber found in pachyderm poo. From the Elephant Dung Paper website, a graphic showing the cycle of conservation (wouldn't that center logo make a great T-shirt?):

Elephant dung paper and the cycle of conservation

There, you can read about the eco-friendly [no chlorine used] process and products, as well as [no joking]...Hot Dung News! On the Hot Dung News! page, a photo of an elephant next to a large wheeled tub of...well, you know...is captioned, "Paper is served. Thank you Mr. Elephant!" In addition, you can learn some fascinating elephant dung facts:
  1. On average an elephant will eat 200-250kg of food a day….. from that we get 50kg of dung
  2. One elephant makes about 115 sheets of paper a day er... correction one elephant provides us enough dung to make 115 sheets of paper. Please let it be known to all :- our staff neither resemble elephants nor provide us with enough dung to make 115 sheets of paper... sorry ladies.
  3. Elephant dung does not smell that bad...honest please believe me. If it does smell that bad then maybe the elephant is ill.
  4. You can take the temperature of an elephant by its dung just minus 1 degree centigrade from a freshly fallen ball!!
  5. An elephant’s dung is just fiber. Elephants are poor digesters of their food over 50% of what they eat comes straight out the other end. The elephants are kindly doing the first stage of any paper making process – getting the fibers.
  6. Elephant Dung Paper does not smell at all.
If that wasn't astounding enough, these Thai elephants are also artistes: you can also purchase paintings made by elephants ["Each painting comes with a picture of the artist in action and is packed in an elephant dung tube"]. My favorite is one that looks rather different from the others in the collection, called "Half of Hearts," (Still available, at US $80) limned by a rather talented 8-year old elephant named Add.

MORE: Elephant painting school and gallery
MSNBC: "Recycling's next frontier: Poop as paper"