A plastic waste found in camels’ stomachs. The deadly masses of bags and other plastic debris are called polybezoars. Markus Eriksen studies the plastic waste in the Persian Gulf. Together with expert Wilrich Werneri, they discovered the skeleton of a camel, the inside of which, where the stomach and intestines are located, was filled with plastic waste. The scientists today say they are paying a lot of attention to the inhabitants of reservoirs that suffer from plastic.
But the problem also applies to land animals. The UAE is a home for about 390 thousand camels. The scientists estimate that about 1% of these important animals are killed by plastic. In total, nearly 30,000 dead animals had been found since 2008.
Their intestines and stomachs were clogged with plastic waste, which weighed between 3 and 64 kilograms. The researchers called these plastics polybezoars to distinguish them from natural hair and plant fiber bezoars. Camels cross the desert in search of food, chewing plastic bags and other waste that are not blown in by the wind.
From a camel's point of view, anything that is not a sand can be food. The plastic in the stomach creates a feeling of fullness, it is not digested and the animals eventually die of starvation.
Luca Nizzetto, an environmental scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Aquatic Research in Oslo, says that if 1% of camel deaths from plastic waste are confirmed by new detailed studies, it will be a very important scientific concern.
These types of studies are relevant for raising public awareness of this pollution. Banning the use of single-use plastic is critical for the entire animal kingdom and for camel populations in isolation. Plastic bags can travel thousands of kilometers from where they were thrown away and not disposed of.