April 29 - An Indonesian safari park is turning elephant dung into paper products for sale in its gift shop. Called ''poo paper'', the products are proving popular with tourists and focusing attention on the endangered elephants who are producing the raw material. Ben Gruber reports.
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The Sumatran elephants at Taman Safari Indonesia, produce 2.5 tons of dung every day. Some of it becomes compost, but according to chief of landscaping Mukdor Khasani, what's left is proving ideal for recycling.
(SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) CHIEF OF LANDSCAPING AND TREATMENT OF SAFARI PARK, MUKDOR KHASANI SAYING:
"The Safari Park had an idea to make the dung more useful buy turning it into paper."
It's called poo paper and it's on sale in the park's souvenir shop. Khasani says elephant dung is ideal for conversion into paper because the animals' inefficient digestive system leaves intact, about half of the fibre it ingests.
To make poo paper, the zookeepers start by washing and boiling the dung to sterilize it which removes unwanted microbes and odor. It also softens the fibers which are then combined with other waste paper products. This dung/paper mix is then blended and moulded into sheets which are then laid out to dry.
Khanasi says 100 kilograms of elephant dung equates to 250 sheets of paper that can be used for books, envelopes and photo frames, all of which are proving popular among souvenir shoppers like Imron.
(SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) A SAFARI PARK SOUVENIR SHOP CUSTOMER, IMRON SAYING:
"I think it is very useful for everyone and especially for students, because now they can popularize an eco-friendly recycling method which proves that all kinds of waste can be recycled and reused."
Mukdor Khasani says he hopes this paper will also focus attention on the animals who are providing the raw material. Poaching and habitat destruction have reduced Sumatran elephant numbers in the wild to about 3000. Khasani says nothing should be wasted in highlighting their plight.
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