Migratory birds, victims of plastic waste

The United Nations Environment Program and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals published on August 31, a study on the damage of plastic waste on the environment, in particular in animals of Asia and the Pacific region. While the Ganges and the Mekong carry 200,000 tons of this pollution per year towards the ocean, the waves of plastic threaten dugongs and crocodiles in the deltas, leopards and Indian elephants, and especially the 500 species of birds present in that part of the world.

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Traveling terns and small spatulas strangle themselves with the remains of fishing gear, or can no longer go to look for their food, because their legs are hampered by nylon threads which cut off their blood circulation. Northern gannets make their nests with debris from fishing and boats; fierce buzzards do it with plastic bags and synthetic fibers. Some birds are thus unable to properly incubate their eggs and turn away from them. The nests abandoned by the storks then become traps for other species, such as eagle owls, which seek to settle there.

Orientation disorders, internal injuries …

Young white storks also often confuse microplastics with earthworms, their favorite prey. This involuntary consumption leads to loss of energy, orientation problems and increased risk of collision with power lines. The plague also affects albatrosses, which feed on the surface of the ocean and swallow floating waste. In addition to internal lesions, these plastic ingestions cause weight loss, or even lead to the death by dehydration of chicks, which can no longer absorb anything once their stomachs are filled with this debris.

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Monk or fawn vultures, and other scavengers, regurgitate pellets made of hair, skin and grass. When sharp micro-waste gets stuck in it, it may not be able to get out and collect in their stomachs. As for the bald eagle – the emblematic eagle of the United States – it sometimes eats small birds contaminated with plastic, such as the staric parrot. Without counting, for all, the deleterious effects of the ingestion of toxic chemicals.

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