A young Australian photographer has shared her incredibly close encounter with a curious elephant at a world-renowned national park.
Travelling with a friend through Sri Lanka, Georgia Debretton was filmed riding in the back of an open-sided vehicle in what is believed to be Yala National Park — best known for its conservation of the country's elephants, leopards and birds.
The pair can be seen admiring the elephant when Georgia's iPhone suddenly slips out of her hand and onto the bumpy road. She gasps and they call for the driver to stop.
However, nothing that can be done as the curious elephant follows the 4WD and quickly picks up the phone with its trunk.
"Oh no," they shout in the TikTok video, claiming to hear a "crunch sound" as the animal takes a bite, before tossing it back down on the ground and walking away. Staff then retrieve Georgia's phone, which surprisingly still works.
'Great holiday story'
Despite extensive damage to the screen, Georgia was still able to laugh the experience off, saying it's a funny story to tell her "future grandkids".
The video from late June received more than one million views, with people intrigued over what the elephant would do with the phone. "Not me thinking at the start the elephant was going to give it back," one person said.
"At least it still works," another added. "That’s a great holiday story," a third person weighed in.
Government bans single-use plastics to address elephant deaths
Elephants are revered in Sri Lanka but are also endangered. Their numbers have dwindled from about 14,000 in the 19th century to 6,000 in 2011, according to the country’s first elephant census.
Conservationists and veterinarians are warning that plastic waste found in open landfills is killing elephants, with there being 54 waste dumps in wildlife zones around the country, and approximately 300 elephants roaming near them, according to officials.
In 2017, the government announced it will recycle the garbage in dumps near wildlife zones to prevent elephants from eating plastic waste, however the decision is said to not have been implemented.
Since June, single-use plastics were banned to help protect the elephants, The Animal Reader reports.
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