During the various lockdowns, we had come across news about creatures other than humans doing well due to our complete absence from outside spaces. As we stayed inside, other species had a better time as pollution (of every kind) went down.
But the relief has been shortlived.
Studies have shown how several endangered species are struggling to stay alive, getting affected by the waste we throw out. The mix of toxic chemicals and other materials are being ingested by animals frequently. A recent study recorded a total of 32 species of birds and animals feasting on garbage dumps in and around India.
The worst element in the waste we throw out is plastic (keep those masks and gloves off landfills, please). When chemicals keep leeching into land and water, it pollutes our surroundings and the environment. Ingestion of plastic waste leads to ulceration in stomach, starvation and premature deaths in animals.
If the country is unable to establish a fully functioning waste management system around natural and forest areas, the impact is going to be cataclysmic.
In order to build awareness about this issue, Sanctuary Nature Foundation with the help of Prachi Galange and Cara Tejpal has come up with an online campaign on Instagram called In Our Filth. The online project will invite photographers from all over India to submit illustrations and paint a picture to the masses about how the garbage dump is a threat to the existence of animals. The ones that speak a thousand words will be posted on the official Instagram handle of Sanctuary Nature Foundation each week.
The images have begun coming in. And they are heartbreaking.
Parag Madhkar Dhakate, a forest conservator shared an image of a leopard holding a polythene bag in the Corbett Tiger Reserve which went viral and raised concerns regarding the health of wildlife.
A tiger cub was spotted with the a plastic bag in the buffer zone of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve.
In the Western Ghats, near Valparai, Tamil Nadu, a lion-tailed macaque was captured biting into a plastic packet with leftover curry. Their primary food is fruits and with all this junk left by humans piling up, the macaques are shifting from their daily diet, simultaneously raiding homes for junk food.
Ladakh as a dream destination but here&rsquos the sad truth - just a kilometre away from the city of Leh lies the highest landfill in India. More than 30,000 plastic bottles are thrown here in the summer seasons. You can spot Himalayan marmots munching on nests which have plastic as a key component.
Elephants are the most intelligent of them all yet the negligence towards their health is just unfathomable. In the deep forests of Siliguri in West Bengal, a wildlife elephant was spotted gulping down a plastic full of vegetable scraps. This is dangerous as it might lead to instant death. But she was trying to find some food to keep herself alive.
The online campaign aims to draw the connection between daily disposal of toxic waste by humans and the everyday consumption by animals and birds of these toxic, non-biodegradable waste such as leftover food items, glass and plastic bottles, plastic packets, metal cans and cartons, and much more.
So next time you are disposing of something, please sent it to a recycle centre. Or just do not buy anything plastic, to start with, because this planet is shared by multiple species.