Nine deer in Japan’s Nara district have died after ingesting plastic waste negligently thrown away by tourists. The Japanese Nara (deer in Japanese) are known to be sacred and are classified as a national treasure. Additionally, they are a major tourist attraction and are protected by law, reports Conde Nast Traveller.
The friendly, affectionate deer are always eager to mingle with tourists. There are total of 1,300 free-roaming deer in the city’s park. They frequently pose for selfies with tourists who feed them regularly. Despite signs in English and Chinese that warn visitors to only feed the deer approved senbei crackers, they do not pay heed. These crackers are available in local shops and do not come in plastic packaging. Authorities have stated that the Japanese deer get attracted to the smell of food and digest plastic bags left behind by visitors.
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Huge amounts of plastic waste found inside Japanese Nara deer
A shocking amount of plastic waste was found in these deer. One deer reportedly ingested around 4.3kg worth of plastic. Another one had eaten a clump of 3.2kg. Masses of tangled plastic litter and packets of snacks were found in their stomachs.
Eating such huge amounts of plastic is evidently detrimental to the health of these animals. It has led to the death of so many solely because of digestive complications. Deer have four-chambered stomachs. Therefore, eating objects that can’t be digested can leave them malnourished and weakened.
— 一般財団法人奈良の鹿愛護会 (@nara_aigokai) March 28, 2019
This reads “What do you think this is? This is a lump of plastic bags from the stomach of the dead deer. The weight was 3.2 kg. Please see the staff blog “Don’t throw away trash in Nara Park!”
Clean up drive at Nara Deer Preservation Foundation
As tourists continue to disregard rules and regulations while travelling, the environment suffers. Responding to deer deaths Nara Deer Preservation Foundation launched a cleaning campaign in the city’s main park on Wednesday. During the cleaning drive, they found a massive amount of plastic all over the district. A total of 50kg of trash was collected, of which 30kg was plastic. To raise awareness about the deaths, the foundation shared a photo of the mass of plastic bags found inside one of the deer.
As we can see the accumulation of plastic is harmful to the environment. It is our responsibility to reduce this menace. Read more about how to reduce plastic pollution while travelling and why it is important.