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52 Kgs of Plastic Wastes, Nails, Removed from a Cow’s Stomach

NEW DELHI, Oct 30: A shocking display of human carelessness was revealed in Chennai where a team of veterinary doctors removed 52 kilogrammes of plastic waste and other indigestible materials from the stomach of a cow which had delivered a calf only 20 days ago.

The surgery, that took more than five hours instead of the normal two hours or so due to various complications was carried out on October 18, it was disclosed on Friday by the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS), where the operation was carried out. The bovine is currently under treatment but was doing well, the surgeons who carried out the operation said.

The surgeons said from the materials removed from the stomach, it was believed that the bovine had ingested the plastic wastes over a period of two years while foraging for food on the streets. Apart from plastic waste, surgeons also found a coin, a screw and two nails from inside the cow.

Its present owner said he had bought the cow recently ago and had no idea of the plastic waste deposits in its stomach. He said when he bought the cow, it was around six months pregnant and although it delivered a calf 20 days ago, it was having problems in passing dung and urine. The cow also had difficulties yielding milk and frequently kicked its stomach with its legs.

After observing the problem, the owner took the cow to a local veterinarian who advised him to take it to TANUVAS.

An X-Ray and Ultrasound scan revealed that plastic had occupied 75 per cent of the rumen (one of the four chambers of the cow’s stomach).

Giving some details about the surgery carried out, a senior surgeon said, “We gave region-specific anaesthesia instead of general anaesthesia. The rumen was completely occupied by the plastic. We removed the plastic. The problem was that the wastes were attached to the walls of the rumen, we had to be very careful that we do not damage the wall.”

“After the surgery, the rumen was filled with 5 kg of bran, jaggery and pro-biotic bolus which will help in the fast recovery.”

Dr S Balasubramanian, the Director of TANUVAS, said, “The surgery was performed on October 18. The amount of material undigested was huge at around 52 kg. The surgery began at 11 am and ended at 4:30 pm. The surgery normally takes two hours but the problem they faced was these materials probably have been inside for around two years and were attached to the walls of the rumen. It was a challenging surgery for the surgeons.”

Such an incident, which recur not so infrequently though the amount of plastic wastes recovered are rarely so huge, underline the importance of the ban imposed by the central government on October 2 on the use of single-use plastic which are thrown on the streets carelessly, often filled with food wastes that attract the bovines.

(Manas Dasgupta)