Grim Photo Of Elephants Foraging In Rubbish Dump For Food Wins Top Prize
A heart-wrenching photograph showing elephants searching for a food on top of a massive garbage dump has won the top prize in the Royal Society of Biology's photography competition.
The striking shot was taken by Tilaxan Tharmapalan, at a plastic at a refuse facility in Oluvil, Sri Lanka and shows a herd of hungry elephants scavaging for food amongst the mounds of rubbish.
The dump encroaches on the herd's natural habitat in the jungles in the eastern province, near the forest that borders the Ampara district, and due to an increase in waste, the dump has spread closer to the forest, subsequently attracting elephants as they look for food.
Tilaxan said in a blog post: "In the eastern province, a herd of wild elephants have picked up a peculiar - and sad - habit: since of late, these elephants have been seen foraging for food in garbage dumps.
"One garbage dump - situated near an area near known as 'Ashraf Nagar' close to the forest bordering the Oluvil-Pallakadu area in the Ampara district - is considered the cause of this new, destructive and unhealthy habit.
"The herd of wild elephants - numbering about 25-30 - now accustomed to feeding so close to human habitat have also begun to invade nearby paddy fields and villages seeking more food adding more tension to the already fraught relationship between the villagers and the wild animals."
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Tilaxan says that a number of autopsies carried on elephants in the area show plastic products and polytheneinside the animals' stomachs, while 'large quantities' of plastic has been spotted in animal droppings in the area.
He added: "The frequency of elephant casualties is a call to all stakeholders to unite and arrive at a solution that will resolve this issue as soon as possible."
Tilaxan says despite numerous talks with authorities to come up with a solution to the problem, no action has yet been taken to keep the elephants out.
The photo scooped the £1,000 top prize of this year's competition which had the theme 'Our Changing World' and was looking for images that highlighted the dynamic nature of wildlife, sometimes catalysed by the impact of humans.
Featured Image Credit: Cover Images/Tilaxan Tharmapalan