Stray Animals

Each one of us living beings has an impact on the environment and the world that we live in. That includes both humans and animals. Among all the animals the most neglected ones are the stray animals. Despite some minor impacts on biodiversity and widespread, stray animals can also benefit some species and ecosystems. Even an emerging and exciting conservation for strays have been noticed to be in growing use as “guardian animals” of the society. Dedicated to these stray animals, 4th April has been declared as World Stray Animals Day [1].

How Strays Can Help the Environment?

Let’s dig a little deep into the environmental cycle. The presence of strays accords a cleansing value on the environment. For example, our daily waste coming from the residential area is dumped in the garbage can. In Bangladesh, most of the garbage cans are left wide open on the streets and contains huge organic and inorganic wastes (both compostable and non-compostable). These wastes are collected by Dhaka City Corporation. But a study in 2007 estimated that approximately 42% of the entire city’s (DNCC and DSCC) waste is collected and the rest 58% of waste remains in open spaces, where its accumulation results in foul odors, rodents, and clogged stormwater and sewer drain [2]. Stray animals act as a scavenger in this part. We know that daily huge amount of food is wasted by humans (as leftovers) which are ultimately thrown away in the garbage. Those leftovers can be the source of food for street animals. By eating those, they are not just having a full tummy but also cleaning our environment along with it.

Stray Feces: Friend of the Soil if Composted

The common question might arise that if the stray animals are eating the wastes dumped by humans, won’t their feces be a problem for the environment? Well if the feces are not treated properly and found lying around in the streets, then yes it can be a big problem. The environment will become unhygienic. But the problem can be solved by a simple process called composting. The controlled breakdown or degradation of organic material into a product called humus is called composting [3]. Stray waste composting is a natural process that requires organic matter, microbes, air, water, and a little human intervention [3]. It is a very easy process and is not expensive at all. It only requires a number of few elements, like a supply of nitrogen-rich materials (also known as green or wet materials) and carbon-rich materials (also known as dry or brown materials) [3]. By following certain steps, ensuring a certain degree of temperature and making a composting bin, the feces and can compost very easily and later can be used as a very good nutrient for the soil.

Green Bins at Home!

Composting Bin or Green Bin processing is a very good and environment-friendly opportunity for the gardeners in our society. Stray feces can become a nutrient for their garden rather than just being pollutants because composting can be done at one’s backyard by making a composting bin! A compost bin can be made by adding stray feces to grass clippings, plants, or other organic waste [4]. Even sawdust can be used if available. During the mixture, the temperature rises to 50-60℃ which kills most canine bacteria harmful for the soil that are present there [4]. The compost mixture should be turned over weekly to ensure its composition and uniformity. All the components present in the mixture is good for soil used in gardening, so one can easily make the best use out of stray waste rather than leaving it in the environment untreated.

How Can Dhaka City Corporation Help?

Dhaka City Corporation might not be able to clean out the entire city’s waste altogether, but every day we see that the cleaners are cleaning the streets in the very early morning and dumping the waste in the wide-open trash cans which keep on staying out in the open creating pollution. Instead of doing so, if the cleaners are instructed to dump the feces in a specific area, where it can be stored and later composted properly, then it really can be used as a nutrient for the soil. These cleaners can collect trashes separately, the organic ones in one can, and the inorganic ones in another. Only the organic ones (that will contain stray feces) will be sent for processing. The advantage of this process is that the feces do not have to be sent to composting every day. Rather it can be stored in a specific compartment for a few days, and once a week it can be sent all together to the final place of compost. Many people think of the strays as a burden and violating animal rights, plan on killing them. But killing can never be a solution because every animal has their right to live. So, the authority has to take steps on protecting them as well as improvising any kind of pollution created by them.

Initiatives by the Young!

Stray animal mostly includes dogs and cats in our country. As inhumane as it sounds, almost 20,000 dogs are killed every year [5]. In 2009, the Obhoyaronno Bangladesh Animal Welfare Foundation, an organization that focuses on the neglected stray animals of Bangladesh, came forward for helping out the animals who roam around in the streets. The organization had the goal of putting an end to the mass killing of stray dogs. After their endless efforts, the government has banned dog-culling in Dhaka and declared it as “No-Cull City” [5]. But the stray animal suffering has begun again for the global pandemic. As we know, Bangladesh as of other countries has been in lockdown for almost 4 months. For this reason, the availability of food for strays has become very difficult, as the leftover food that they used to get from restaurants, cafeterias, and canteens are all closed. The strays are suffering now more than ever and only teamed effort of the entire society can help them survive in this situation. In amidst this crisis, a team of young people has come up to help these strays. Samin Yasar, a student of the University of Dhaka, who has recently joined as a volunteer in this team has stated, “During this lockdown with the University of Dhaka being completely shut, source of food for local dogs from TSC cafeteria, halls, canteens have gone in a hiatus as well. The team I joined have been feeding over 200 dogs all over the campus since March, 3 weeks a day. It has been pretty hectic for these people to organize and manage around 20 kgs+ food each day feed but trust me the souls of the strays know hunger. They drool and get restless when the food arrives. Though what is provided might technically not be enough it’s better than nothing”. Such simple yet challenging initiatives taken during this tough time can save lives and our tiny bit of love for these animals can make this world a better place.

References

  1. Website: Cesar’s Way. Article by Cesar Millan on World Stray Animals Day: Why This Cause Is So Important To Me. https://www.strayanimalsday.org
  2. Dhaka Municipal Waste Factsheet. Solid Waste Management in Dhaka: Waste Collection. https://www.waste.ccacoalition.org/sites/default/files/files/city_fact_sheet/Dhaka_MSW_FactSheet_0.pdf
  3. Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. Article on Composting Dog Waste. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_035763.pdf
  4. The Conversation. Edition: Australia. Part: Environment + Energy: Don’t waste your dog’s poo – compost it. https://theconversation.com/dont-waste-your-dogs-poo-compost-it-107603#:~:text=Rather%20than%20becoming%20a%20pollutant,of%20food%20for%20the%20microbes.
  5. The Daily Star. OBHOYARONNO. https://www.thedailystar.net/news/obhoyaronno

Author:
Promiti Prova Mahbub
Department of Civil and Water Resources Engineering
Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST)

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