Elephant dung is rich in grass and other natural fibres. It is an excellent alternative to wood as a raw material for use in the paper industry in Kenya. There is no difference between the two types of paper in terms of quality and cost price.
Currently Kenya already has seventeen companies that turn elephant dung into paper. These are situated in the vicinity of the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, which covers an area of 36 square kilometres. Kenya has an elephant population of around 7,000. These provide plenty of raw material for paper, as an elephant consumes around 250 kilos of food a day and produces around 50 kilos of dung, on average. This amount is good for 125 A4s.
The manufacturing process is fairly straightforward. After the dung has been washed and rinsed, the only thing that is left are fibres. These are subsequently boiled for four hours to ensure that they are really clean. The remaining pulp is processed into paper in the same way as wood pulp. However, the main advantage of this manufacturing method is that fewer trees are felled for the paper industry.
This alternative manufacturing method is already earning around five hundred farmers a living. Paper factory Transpaper Kenya uses elephant dung for about twenty percent of its total paper production. Expectations are that this factory alone will manufacture around 10,000 tonnes of odourless elephant dung paper this year. The Kenyan state corporation, Kenya Wildlife Service, claims that this manufacturing method not only reduces illegal logging but also contributes to maintaining Kenya's elephant population.