Elephants are falling into trenches on Indian tea plantations
But efforts to grow elephant-friendly tea are helping.
You probably don’t think of your morning cup of tea as a safety hazard, but those aromatic leaves can mean injury—even death—for Asian elephants roaming Indian tea gardens, or plantations, in the northeastern state of Assam.
Tea is the second most popular drink in the world (after water), and production in India—the world’s second-largest producer behind China—reached a record high of 1.27 million tons in 2016, according to a 2018 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Much of the land where tea is grown in Assam is flat, and since stagnant water is bad for the shrubs, farmers dig drainage trenches to prevent it from accumulating. The trenches are a problem for young elephants, which