The Grapevine

How Plastic Usage Is Affecting Even Protected Wildlife

The world’s plastic waste problem is currently one of its biggest woes, and every year that passes by without solving it makes it all the more alarming. It’s not something to set aside either since it’s slowly affecting our health, as well as the environment that we are living in. Landfills are full of it, the ocean is slowly getting covered by it, and now, even wildlife in protected areas are affected by it.

Protected wildlife not safe from plastic problem

Recently, an image of a leopard holding a plastic bag in its mouth has gone viral on social media, rousing calls from citizens who are all concered not just for the leopard but for wildlife as a whole. Shared by Parag Madhukar Dhakate, who works as a forest conservator, the image is said to be taken somewhere near Nainital’s own Corbett Tiger Reserve that is a protected area for animals.

“Over the years plastic garbage has infested too deep in our daily lives, it’s rapidly consuming this planet & all its sentient beings. Better late than never, it’s imperative NOT to dump plastic waste in forest areas. #StopPlaticGarbagePollution #CleanEarth #KnowYourForest,” wrote Dhakate in a tweet accompanying the photo of the leopard.

Dhakate has also referred to the incident as “very alarming,” and that it’s the first time an incident like this has been reported. The report was then echoed by environmentalists and conservationists, all of whom have voiced their concerns on the current state of wildlife against our world’s plastic waste problem.

Garbage in the jungle

Per experts, human garbage in protected areas of the jungle is caused by people dumping it on the forest’s edges. Combined with the encroachment of people deep in the forest, the situation adds up, causing distressing situations for the animals.

All of this is happening despite laws putting strict measures against the use of polythene bags, meaning that huge changes must be made if we are to make a real difference and save whatever is left of wildlife.

A similar situation is happening to our oceans, with tons of plastic waste getting dumped in it every year, threatening marine wildlife at an alarming rate.

Plastics It is not known whether the microplastics made their way into the gut due to food packaging, seafood consumption, or another reason altogether. rawpixel/Unsplash