Safari Adventures: The Making of Elephant-Dung Paper

“After lunch, Chris met up with Stephan to make journals out of elephant-dung paper. This homemade slightly thick paper bound together with leather ties was one of the most popular items sold in the camp’s gift shop…Chris collected shredded newspaper and glue and filled the large plastic container with water. “Do you want to mulch and mix, or do you want to dip strain?””  

The process of making homemade paper from elephant-dung was one of the highlights of our time in the Serengeti. If I had known I was going to write a novel after I returned home, I likely would have taken more pictures, and I definitely would have taken some video of this process.

In BECAUSE OF KHALID, I included Chris’ daily chore for a variety of reasons.

  • I needed some scenes that weren’t full of high intense drama. During an emotional, action-packed scene, an author wants readers to sit up and pay attention. If done well, the readers are sitting at the edge of their seats, biting a fingernail. It’s hard to keep that intensity and momentum going throughout the whole book. There also needs to be some “down time” scenes that are equally interesting and still move the story forward.
  • The reader can learn more about Chris’ character and personality by his interactions with the secondary characters.
  • The main ingredient in their homemade paper is eco-friendly. It’s an abundant resource and readily available. Elephant poop doesn’t stink because the main source of an elephant’s diet consists of leaves, twigs, and grass.
  • Elephant-dung paper is a real product that the staff in Tanzanian safari lodges/tented camps actually make.

After you finish reading BECAUSE OF KHALID, I encourage you to visit the other tabs on my website. The one labeled “Fun Activities” has a link to download instructions on how to make homemade paper. It’s similar to what Chris and Stephan made at Kipepeo Tented Camps, minus of course, the elephant-dung.