Jumbo death spurs call to shun plastic bags

Jumbo death spurs call to shun plastic bags

CAUSE OF DEATH: Plastic waste found in the intestine and stomach of an elephant found dead at the back of the Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok campus in Chanthaburi province last week.
CAUSE OF DEATH: Plastic waste found in the intestine and stomach of an elephant found dead at the back of the Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok campus in Chanthaburi province last week.

The latest loss of a wild elephant which died with plastic bags in its intestines and stomach showed the public campaign to reduce plastic bags was "falling on deaf ears", Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa says.

"How many wild animals need to die in order to raise the conscience of some people," he wrote in his official Facebook Page in conveying his dismay towards the recent death of a wild jumbo.

Forest officials from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation on Wednesday found a male elephant, weighing about 3.5 tonnes and aged around 20, dead at the back of the Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok campus in Chanthaburi province.

Officials at the department found plastic bags inside the animal.

An initial investigation found it died from a severe intestinal infection. Further laboratory tests will be done to firmly establish the cause of death.

Mr Varawut lamented people still turn a deaf ear to pleas to stop using plastic bags and calls to save wild animals' lives from plastic was not reaching Thai people.

Mr Varawut said he was disappointed with the report of the elephant's death in the Khao Khitchakut National Park in Chanthaburi province and dismayed to hear that plastic waste found in its stomach is likely to be the cause of its death.

Certain people who continue to carelessly dispose of plastic bags in the forest zone.

He said the ministry has launched a campaign to reduce the daily use of plastic bags after the loss last year of a baby dugong, widely known as Mariam.

The ministry later came up with the Mariam project to save the rare marine mammal species, together with a plan to reduce plastic bag consumption.

It also launched a campaign of "Every Day Say No to Plastic Bags" by banning the use of plastic bags in supermarkets and convenience stores nationwide.

The ministry said it was hoped the campaign would reduce the disposal of 3.75 billion plastic bags per month.

Its success has finally brought the country to a better position from 6th to 10th of the world's largest waste distributors to the sea.

The female dugong who lost her family was found on a beach last year in Krabi province. Several months later the animal died after being treated by officials.

The autopsy found many pieces of plastic bag in the dugong's stomach, which is believed to be the main cause of death.

"People are still being deaf to our campaign," he said. "We have found the loss of other animals caused by the plastic bags, with the latest case of the poor wild jumbo. Please help us by not leaving any plastic waste inside the park."


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