Nara deer is a species of wild deer in Japan. They are a major tourist attraction and visitors feed these animals that roam about freely on the roads. However, 14 of them died from March onwards and plastic was the cause of death of nine. Waste in the form of bags and other plastic items were present in their stomachs.

There are instances of plastic waste killing off marine life, but when it happens on land, it becomes a matter of concern. The city of Nara is the ancient capital of Japan and the authorities continuously advise visitors to refrain from feeding the city’s wild deer.

People ignore warning signs in English and Chinese and discard the carry bags and wrappers. These ultimately find their way into the stomachs of the animals.

The Guardian reports on this serious issue. It is normal to feed the innocent Nara deer that roam freely on the streets and the authorities suggest a special type of food. These are ‘senbei’ crackers sold locally in special packaging, which is not harmful.

Opinion of experts

A veterinarian who is also a member of the conservation group revealed that the Nara deer died from starvation. This is because foreign objects like plastic waste and similar products damaged their digestive system.

The smell of food that remains in the plastic bags attracts them. Tourists discard these bags not realizing the after-effects. They come to Nara to take in the local sights and see hundreds of deer in the city’s main park. Obviously, they have an urge to feed them.

The Guardian goes on to add that the Japanese treat these animals as divine messengers and they were designated natural treasures in 1957.

The arrival of tourists has spiked in the recent past because it has become a favorite Travel destination. On a rough estimate, the number of international visitors have increased nearly tenfold from 2012 to 2017 and touched the 2.09 million mark. Therefore, the authorities will have to intensify the drive to educate the people so that the deer do not fall prey to plastic waste.

One deer had ingested 4.3 kilograms plastic

According to the Japan Times, the local government is worried about the death of 14 wild deer in Nara Park since March. Nine of them had huge amounts of plastic in their stomachs with one of them ingesting nearly 4.3 kilograms of the waste. There is no restriction to feed the animals but there are special digestive and sugar-free crackers for them. These are available in nearby shops, yet the visitors feed them other snacks. The animals usually feed on grass and the cause of death is malnutrition and weakened immune systems. It seems the dead deer were skinny with visible signs of malnutrition. This once again highlights the need to ban plastic in all forms from our lives, especially the bags. Levying a charge on bags is fine, but total elimination is a better option.