Shorebirds standing around pile of elephant dung
Sandpipers appear to be ‘guarding’ their gift from Elephan maximus maximus. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Have you ever wondered about the scale of a single deposit of elephant dung?

No, probably not.

But if you were a sandpiper, it could be vitally important information – witness the accompanying image taken at the Yala National Park in Sri Lanka.

We all know Asian elephants are smaller than their African cousins, but the Sri Lankan variety is still very big, and capable of very large ‘deposits’. (Music to a banker’s ears perhaps, but potentially overwhelming for a distracted marsh sandpiper.)

Mother and baby elephant bathing at Yala forest reserve
Mother and calf cooling off, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

The marsh sandpiper (above left) in our feature image is typically 22-26cm, and the wood sandpiper (above right) tops out at 22cm. Which gives you some idea of the scale of the bowel movement where the two birds seem to be standing sentinel – presumably in the hope that interesting food will emerge from within.

According to Wikipedia, the Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) is one of three recognised sub-species of the Asian elephant. It is native to Sri Lanka and the largest and darkest of the Asian species.

WWF says the Sri Lankan elephant population has fallen 65% since the turn of the 19th century. They are listed by IUCN as endangered, and killing one carries the death penalty – for perp’ and victim, no doubt.

©Natural Images 2017

©2018 TONY NEILSON All Rights Reserved. All images are protected by Australian copyright law and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without my permission. Please contact me.

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