Litterbugs are killing our wildlife
Campaigners hit out after clearing tonnes of rubbish from Dubai desert
Desert daytrippers and campers who toss their trash and leave their BBQ waste behind are killing the country’s wildlife and their habitat – and it’s time to stop.
That’s the message from one group of 4x4 enthusiasts who cleared 3.5 tonnes of rubbish, about the weight of an average male African elephant, from a small area of desert in Dubai at the weekend.
About 150 people in 60 cars took part in the Hilti Desert Clean-up Drive, gathering up items left behind by ignorant visitors, including everything from rugs to plastic cups, plates, cutlery, food and BBQ waste.
Gaurav Khanna, co-founder of the online marketplace Carnity.com, a group of 4x4 hobbyists, hit out at the careless litterbugs and said his group often come across camels that have died because of eating plastic waste.
He said: “This isn't rocket science. They should pick up their trash before leaving. Unfortunately we, as off-roaders, witness many camels dying by eating the plastic bags, bottles and cans left behind. It is truly sad and horrifying.”
The convoy of vehicles set off at 7am in the area around Al Awir and, with the help of Dubai Municipality cleaners, picked up tonnes of plastic bottles, cans and mats.
Khanna added: “We split the total numbers in four to five convoys and cleaned the entire desert behind the Al Awir Palace and military base camp.
“The individual parties are not really educated. They leave cans, plastic bottles, mats and other trash behind.
“They go to the middle of the desert, where there is a little bit of plantation and leave all of their trash there. That’s where the wildlife, such as camels, come to eat and they end up eating the harmful waste, such as the plastic bags and bottles.”
Khanna said that members of carnity.com – a car enthusiasts’ community – often go on off road trips and see the desert filled with garbage, left behind by visitors to the area.
He said campaigners are frustrated as repeated calls for people to take away their trash, and regular campaigns, are clearly falling on deaf ears.
Habiba Al Marashi, Chairperson of the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), previously said many open desert areas have become dumping grounds. After a previous clean-up, Al Marashi told 7DAYS: “We saw everything you could imagine – carpets, styrofoam plates and cups, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, food – and even BBQ skewers. It’s a problem. “When you leave your waste in those natural desert areas it gets covered up by sand because of wind. “There are animals like camels roaming around, who will rummage through the waste. This is extremely damaging to them and the environment.” The latest clean-up comes just over a week since Dubai Municipality said it is to start using drones to spot litter that has been dumped in the desert and on the emirate’s beaches. The municipality said the scheme is an attempt to reduce the 7,500 tonnes of waste that are generated each day. Abdulmajeed Saifaie, Director of the Waste Management Department at the municipality said: “It is far more efficient with the drones rather than send multiple vehicles and manpower into locations.”
TIME NOT WASTED: Teams pose with the tonnes of rubbish collected in the clean-up