A study done recently that has been published in the Journal of Arid Environments states that 1% of camels in the United Arab Emirates are dying due to the plastic they are unintentionally ingesting. The researchers, who looked through the remains of over 30,000 dead camels for their study, found that over 300 of them had large amounts of plastic in their stomachs. This is startling, as a figure of 1% is extremely high given the population of camels in the UAE. This is similar to ocean life and their plastic pollution which several creatures mistake for food.
The UAE is one of the largest homes for camels across the globe with over 459,000 camels. There have been issues in the past with these camels aside from pollution, as a research article published in December of 2015 showed that camels in the UAE also contained dangerous parasites. Plastic pollution, however, seems to be far more dangerous, wide-spread, and something that we can fix.
These camels are vulnerable creatures for ingesting plastic, as they most commonly eat plastic bags that drift and land alongside roads.
Study co-author Marcus Eriksen says he doesn’t blame the camels. He told onegreenplanet (onegreenplanet.org) that “If [the camels] see a plastic bag stuck in a tree… or stuck against a fence, they might think, ‘Oh, that’s a novel piece of food,’ and they’ll consume it.” The camels won’t know good from bad, and whatever drifts their way is what they will eat as a source of food. This situation comes at the square responsibility of society around the globe which has consistently increased the use of single-use plastics despite sustainability needs. A major issue that is presented is that plastic bags are often more economical and far more convenient. There are no incentives in place globally to not use plastic bags, and often, alternatives are not offered.