In India cows look for food on the streets, often in heaps of garbage left by the roadsides. While searching for something edible, cows end up consuming a lot of non-degradable waste, especially plastics.
Several studies have shown that cows that eat plastic eventually stop eating their regular food. Plastic affects the internal organs and gets collected inside their body. Eventually, they are not able to give milk, and even if they do, it’s loaded with toxic chemicals.
A shocking incident in a rural district in southern India has once again shed light on the improper disposal of plastics and other non biodegradable wastes.
A veterinary doctor in Kadur taluk of Chikkamagaluru district saved a cow by removing 21 kg of plastic from its stomach. While hogging for food on the streets, the cow had eaten plastics and over a period of time, it had accumulated in its rumen.
Mammals, who chew the cud regurgitated from their rumen are known as Ruminants. Now, ruminants basically have a four-chambered stomach. The ingested plant material is stored in the first chamber, which is also known as rumen, where it gets soft.
The animal, which was 3 to 4 years, had undergone a 4-hour surgery in which all the plastic was removed. The owners spotted that something was wrong when the cow started to suffer bloating and its digestion capacity went down.
Speaking to reporters the Chief Veterinary Officer at the Government Veterinary Hospital, Kadur Dr. B E Arun said that when a cow eats plastic, it can neither regurgitate it nor pass it on to the next chamber of its digestive system. Therefore, the plastic gets tangled lifelong.
Arun explained that when the temperature of the rumen increases, the plastic melts and there is no space left for other food.
He further said that degradable covers are fine, but when the food is inside plastic bags or covers, the animals can smell it, and hence, they attempt to eat it. Calling it a ‘slow poison,’ the vet said that in monogastric animals, that are, mammals with single compartment stomachs such as humans, dogs, cats, and horses, death will be instant.