A ban on plastics inside national parks was either too little or too late for a deer found yesterday with 7 kilograms of garbage inside its body.
The animal was found dead with no external wounds or cuts in the Khun Sathan National Park in northern Nan province. It wasn’t until the deer was dissected that they found it packed with trash including instant coffee packages, condiment packages, plastic bags and even a man’s underwear.
“An examination of the deer carcass revealed that it had a number of plastic bags, garbage and human appliances inside its stomach. It appeared that it had been accumulating in his stomach over a long period of time. This is similar to the marine plastic pollution crisis that killed the dugongs,” said Kriengsak Thanomphan, regional conservation office director.
The deer was about 10-years-old and an underweight 200 kilograms. Officials believe it died from gastrointestinal obstruction as well as advanced age.
Kriengsak was referring to 21 known dugong deaths caused by human activity this year. August, alone saw the tragic deaths of two baby sea cows who’d become national celebrities after they were rescued by marine biologists. The first died from an infection exacerbated by bits of plastic lining her stomach while the second’s digestive system was clogged by seagrass.
“Therefore we must create measures and policies in managing the plastic waste in the short-, medium- and long-term,” he added.
The first measure he suggested was to take the animals death as a call to action and ask local residents to help clean up garbage in the park. After that, he said a committee would be created to regulate the park’s waste management, while longer-term solutions would involve educating the public, tourists and students about the negative consequences of plastic waste
Samples were taken from the animal to perform a toxicological examination. The deer was moved for further forensic examination to a veterinary research center in Lampang province.
Plastic waste inside the park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, made headlines in December when it was discovered in elephant poop, sparking alarm.
Just three months ago, another dead deer was discovered in Khao Yai, Thailand’s largest national park, with 3 kilograms of plastic inside its stomach.
In June 2018, a ban was announced on plastic bags and styrofoam containers at all of the nation’s zoos and 154 national parks in an effort to “beat plastic pollution.”
Meanwhile, in a bid to rid the country of four types of disposable plastics within two years, Thailand’s cabinet earlier this month endorsed a plan to implement a ban on single-use plastics just over a year from now.
As with similar measures, it remains to be seen whether enforcement and follow-through will match the soaring rhetoric.
In recent weeks, dozens of shopping malls and department stores signed onto an agreement to stop providing plastic bags in January.