Rama Krishna Sangem
Plastic and rubber waste that is littered around in forests is posing a grave threat to survival of wild animals. This problem was a concern some decades ago, but it turned into a crisis proportions today. As we are all aware of, materials of plastic, rubber and chemicals, are commonly littered around in forests and hilly areas by those who throng there, either as trekkers or tourists. This has now become a major environmental challenge.
An X post by BRS Rajya Sabha MP J Santosh Kumar on September 28, Thursday, once again highlighted this vexed issue of bio-non degradable waste in our jungles. A photo of a cub tiger plying with a rubber gumboot alarmed animal and environment lovers alike, is posted by the MP. This cub of 15 months old doesn’t know danger of eating the shoe. This picture is of Nimdhela tourist zone in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) n Maharashtra.
The gumboots must have been of a labourer engaged with wildlife management work in the forests, said Kushagra Pathak, deputy director (buffer) of TATR, said a photo caption of a newspaper that carried this picture. Interestingly, this TAR is plastic free zone. But, this buffer zone is on the periphery of the core area where multipurpose people move around. The officials say, this buffer zone too would be plastic free soon.
“Not a good sight”: Santosh
“Not a good sight!! This young giger cub playing with a gumboot in Tadoba-Andheri tiger serve may seem playful, but it posses potential dangers to both the majestic animal and is fellow jungle creatures. Maintaining self -iscipline while venturing into any forest is crucial to protect our wildlife and their natural habitats. Lets response their space and keep them safe.” tweeted MP Santosh.
Good that as many as 5,800 plus views and 153 likes and 38 reposts that tweet got by Thursday noon. Some comments also evoked equal concern over the photo. Vata Foundation in a reply, said: “We had spent intial 2 yeers in cleaning up Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and later trained the gudies to pick up any kind of trast. The results were one of the cleanest jungles in Maharashtra”. Tipeshwar too is closer to TATR. Some more too voiced concern over the issue.
Alas, no place on our planet is safe from plastic and rubber threat. Very recently held G-20 summit too focused its attention on converting forests, hills, rivers and oceans free of all bio-non degradable material. For the last few years we have been seeing reports of many wild animals like elephants and deer are dying of eating plastics. The US and other European countries have completely banned microplastics in open areas.
Will we be ever dong the same in near future? Even if there is an official ban, are our people ready to follow the rules? As long as non-plastic (or all forms of bio non-degradable) items are not cheaper than those of bio-degradable, public will continue to buy or use them. The only solution is to prohibit the plastics and manufacture cheaper bio-degradable alternative items.