The set of tragic pictures that were snapped by a sports photojournalist, Pranab Das, in West Bengal, a state in eastern India, shows the majestic animal amid plastic litter that was left by a bunch of tourists.
In the lush green surroundings, the herbivorous animal that generally snacks on roots, grasses, fruits, and barks was so famished that with the help of its trunk, it sifted through piles of garbage that were filled with plastic bottles, containers, and bags while on the lookout for something edible to satisfy its hunger.
Pranab, who hails from the area, explained to Caters News Agency that he snapped these pictures of the poor elephant with a pile of garbage on its back and head in an effort to show and warn people to take care of the environment.
He said, “I hope these photos encourage people to stop littering. The garbage was left behind by vans.”
He further added that “The elephant was snacking on plastic which was painful for me to see.”
It is a well-known fact that plastic pollution is harmful to a wide number of species that range from tiny corals to land animals like camels that encounter it. The Sea Turtle Conservancy has reported that over 1 million marine animals die each year either by injecting plastic or by getting entangled in it.
In 2018, a 40-year-old Indian elephant from the south Indian state of Kerala was found dead after consuming about 4.43 pounds (approx. 2 kg) of plastic waste. The Press Trust of India reported that the female elephant had consumed leftovers that included plastic bags, wrappers of packed food, and aluminum foil papers, which were all found during a post-mortem.
“The carcass of the elephant was spotted during routine field check. About two kg of plastic waste was found in its abdomen during post-mortem. It could not take any food at least for some weeks,” said Sunil Babu, who was the deputy director of Periyar west division at the time of the tragic incident.
He further added: “According to the veterinarians, the animal died of constipation and intestinal blockage. It could not digest the plastic in the intestine or take any other food.”
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