A Dung Story


It’s exactly what you think it is – a pile of rather… unsavory looking fecal matter with suspiciously blue-green mold growing on it. A pleasant combination, even at the best of times. Just be thankful you aren’t smelling it.

But this dung – whether it came from boar or civet – has a much larger story than that. The mold growing on it will gradually decompose it to its base nutrients, which will then by recycled into the soil, providing the rich top layer that allows the proliferation of life in the rainforest. (The key, however, is that only the first few centimetres of soil are so rich – afterwards you reach barren dirt. That’s the reason slash-and-burn agriculture is especially detrimental, and ultimately useless, in rainforests – the soil gets used up quickly, and without the complex ecosystem of the forest, it’s not replenished.)

And the mold won’t play the only part. In the time we observed this dung heap for, we spotted insects ranging from robber flies to termites to – guess what – dung beetles. All of those will feed on the nutrients of the feces, or, in the case of the latter, roll it up into its little ball for its own nefarious purposes.

Yes, it’s digusting, and yes, it stinks. But don’t underestimate the power of dung.

2 thoughts on “A Dung Story

  1. Stumbled across your blog, and it sounds like you’re having quite an experience. Anyways, I’m a PCV and am looking for people to help me out with project for my English class in Mozambique. There’s more info on the Postcard Project tab on my blog. Let me know if you’d be able to help out. Haven’t gotten anything from Singapore yet


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