Excrement

Several months ago, I mentioned in a blog that an infusion of elephant dung is a traditional remedy to treat hypertension. About half of what elephants consume passes through its intestines without the nutrients being digested or absorbed, so it is just possible that vegetation could contain chemicals with an anti-hypertensive action. But I would rather take tablets.

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Even this elephant is spreading his ears in surprise at the use of his dung

A well-respected guide told me about the traditional treatment for crocodile bites. As soon as possible, smear the wound with human faeces. The (twisted) rationale for this is that the bite introduces pathogenic bacteria from the crocodile’s mouth, so by providing an alternative substrate (faeces), the bugs won’t attack human flesh. “Of course, the doctors wash it out when the patient gets to hospital, but it is the best initial treatment before antibiotics are given,” he said. “That is total crap,” I told him.

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This photograph of a boy wearing a baby’s woolly hat, covering the strap of a handbag has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog

He went on to tell me about the use of male hippopotamus dung for treating babies with colic and constipation. The dung should be mixed with water and left overnight. Then it is strained and the supernatant is given to the baby orally. I am not surprised that it treats constipation; the baby is likely to get diarrhoea from this potion.

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Hippo spraying its dung around using the propellor action of its tail

My next door neighbour burns dried elephant dung in an attempt to keep mosquitoes away. I am not sure it works very well, as I still get bitten when I visit the house. My other neighbours swear that the smoke from burning elephant dung deters mopani flies and wasps in remote rural areas.

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