There are about 500-600 cattle roaming free on the roads of Bengaluru. About 50 of them die because of feeding on plastic.
Despite all efforts by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), cattle continue to die because of mismanaged plastic waste in the city. “At any point of time, there are about fifty cows that die due to plastic accumulation in their stomachs.”, says the Vice Chairman of We Are Here To Serve (WAHTS) foundation Vice Chairman Goutham Sharma.
Unsupervised cows stray onto the roads with garbage dumps on the sides. Mostly, they look for food in polythene and eat the plastic that carries it. It remains undigested in their stomachs and keeps on accumulating. Only over a period of time do health issues appear. A one sided bulge in a cow’s stomach or drastic reduction in milk yield are some of the consequences of feeding on plastic.
Dr V Mahesh, Surgical Specialist at Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU) says that there is an increase in the number of cases in the last decade. He adds, “In the last four years, we have performed nearly 1000 surgeries on cattle to remove plastic waste.”
The accumulated plastic not only brings down the milk yield, but also damages the animal’s other internal organs. In most cases, the cattle that feed on to plastic die because of multiple organ failure.
“I had a calf that died because it fed on plastic. If a healthy cow gives about 10 litres of milk in a day, the one feeding on plastic waste would give just about two to three litres of milk. It’s a huge loss for us to maintain the cattle”, says K Shiva G.K., a dairy farmer.
Experts from KVAFSU believe that a zero waste strategy is a long process, but would be beneficial to save the cattle from feeding on harmful plastics.