Plastic has found its way into the stomachs of numerous animals — from street-dwelling stray cattle to elephants in forests. More recently, wildlife biologists discovered carry bags and packets of gutka, chips and biscuits in elephant dung in northern Bengal.
However, some animals, including carnivores and ruminants such as deer, run a higher risk of consuming plastics because they are ‘gulpers’, lacking “dexterous hand or mouthparts, and consequently not able to separate food from plastic and other indigestible matter”, write the authors of a study published recently in Current Science.
Scientists at Dehradun’s Nature Science Initiative observed various animals that visited two garbage dumps along a forest edge in Uttarakhand’s Nainital. Over two months in 2015, the team, including the study’s lead author Gitanjali Katlam, observed the species and numbers of animals that visited the dumps during the day. At night, activity at the dumps was captured on camera traps.read more