Indian veterinarians have taken out 71 kilograms (156.5 pounds) of garbage from the stomach of a pregnant cow. Both the mother and her baby died.
“In my 13 years of experience, this is the most garbage we have taken from a cow. We had to use muscle power to get it all out,” Ravi Dubay, president of the animal welfare organization People For Animals Trust Faridabad, told Reuters.
The case has highlighted the country’s problems of people polluting the streets and stray animals. An estimated five million cows roam India’s cities, with many eating huge amounts of plastic garbage on the streets.
The cow was rescued after a road accident in late February. A vet soon noticed the pregnant cow was struggling and kicking her own stomach.
In a four-hour operation, vets found 71 kg of plastic waste and coins, needles, pieces of glass, screws and other garbage in her stomach, Dubay said. They also attempted a premature delivery.
Doctor Atul Maurya, who performed the surgery, told Times of India that it took nearly four hours to clean the animals’ stomach. He urged people to stop throwing plastic garbage on the street.
“The baby did not have enough space to grow in her mother’s belly so she died,” Dubay said. A few days later, the mother also died.
How sacred are cows in India?
Previous surgeries done by the organization based in the northern Indian state of Haryana have found up to 50 kilograms of waste in cows’ stomachs.
“The cow is very sacred for us, but no-one cares for their life. In every corner in every city, they eat the waste,” Dubay added.
Cows are holy in India where most people are Hindu, but by looking at the animals on the street, often near garbage dumps, one would not think people treat them as sacred.
Romula D’Silva, vice-president of the Karuna Society for Animals and Nature in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, said the problem of garbage-eating cows happens in “every city in India, big or small”.
“Wherever there are cows on the streets, you can be sure they are full of plastic. My heart breaks for them as they can have very painful deaths,” she told AFP.
Over the years, Karuna Society has examined the stomachs of over 60 cows after they’ve died, D’Silva said. They’ve always found plastic and garbage in their stomachs.
There is no official, nationwide data on how many cows are affected every year from ingesting plastic. But in 2019, the animal welfare organization Blue Cross of India said almost 90% of cows roaming the city of Chennai had plastic waste in their stomach.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
The Animal Reader is an animal news website. We want to encourage people to question whether it’s ethically and morally correct to treat animals the way we do in our society. We do this by reporting on news about animal welfare. If you can, please consider supporting animal journalism.