No, elephant dung is not a cure for COVID-19

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The statements, information and/or data referenced in this article have been assessed and found to be false.

18th August 2020

Frederico Links

Frederico Links is the editor and lead researcher of Namibia Fact Check and a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)

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Photo courtesy: Axel Tschentscher / Wikimedia Commons

Bizarre belief that elephant dung cures COVID-19 has environment and police officials issuing a public warning.

There is no cure for COVID-19.

Since COVID-19 started going global in January 2020 there have been all manner of fake treatments, cures or remedies circulating on social media and messaging platforms.  

Some of the strangest such fake treatments, cures and remedies have included animals or animal parts and excrement. 

For instance, in March 2020 fake advice that cow dung and urine could prevent or cure COVID-19 went viral across India, with various fact checkers and authorities in that country having to debunk such claims. 

In mid-August 2020, Namibia too apparently saw a strange claim circulating about dung … elephant dung, to be precise. 

Although Namibia Fact Check did not come across such a claim itself, an online report on 16 August 2020 stated:

“THE sale of elephant dung as a so-called cure for COVID-19 has skyrocketed, with prices going up significantly despite warnings from officials that the big animal waste product does not treat the virus.

Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, said apart from the belief that the dung treats coronavirus, people also use elephant dung as traditional medicine and that this has resulted in a high demand.”

– Informante’

Another online report, from 17 August 2020, deals with the same media statement by the environment ministry, but does not refer to COVID-19, merely referring to “different ailments”:

“The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism has cautioned the public to refrain from collecting elephant dung from national parks as it is a punishable offence, with would-be offenders liable to a fine of N$1 200. This was shared by the ministry’s spokesperson Romeo Muyunda in the wake of increased usage of elephant dung as a remedy for different ailments.”

– New Era

The article indicates that such claims were encountered on “social media”. 

To avoid misunderstanding, there is no medical or scientific evidence that inhaling or ingesting elephant dung prevents or cures COVID-19 infection.

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