On a daily basis a huge amount of non-degradable material, especially plastics is thrown in the garbage by households and industrial outlets. This non-degradable waste not only adds to the pollution but also turns out to be very harmful to animals. Cows who look for food on the streets end up consuming these plastics, as they are mixed with peels of fruits, vegetables, and other things. Several studies have proven that cows that eat plastic eventually stop eating their regular food. Plastic affects their 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 like dioxins.
An incident from Chikkamagaluru district has come to the limelight which is a grim reminder of the pollution caused by plastics and other non-degradable materials. On July 15, 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, a report in The New Indian Express said.
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.
The Chief Veterinary Officer at the Government Veterinary Hospital, Kadur Dr. B E Arun in a conversation with TOI informed 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.