Balis Big Problem With Plastic & Puppies
If you've been to Bali, you'll know it is full of light and love. Not only is it home to lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, amazing food and people, but also a very giving and kind culture. Bali is somewhere I've spent a lot of time alone and always felt safe and welcomed, and always have been inspired by the love that i've felt there. Bali really has everything and is a true treasure.
However, there's two huge problems here at the moment. The first I would like to touch on is the trash. I am not sharing this with you to put you off visiting Bali, because it's truly a wonderful place. But, as much as I could share wonderful stories of kindness and beauty, I could also share images that sadden me when it comes to how careless humans are with the earth. Because of rainy season, it is especially noticeable that there is more trash than ever, which has washed up from the ocean or that the rivers and has been carried further through the streets.
Bali are yet to have a recycling programme, so like many countries, rubbish is just dumped, or burnt. 79% of plastic produced over the last century world wide has been thrown into landfill sites or into the sea. Only 9% per cent is recycled and the other 12% is incinerated. The trash in Bali is not organised trash. Its not only in huge piles dotted in each village, but also that there is so much trash on the sides of the road within nature that people have just chucked on the floor. Beautiful beaches are being destroyed, alongside with the Ocean.
"There are 500 times more pieces of microplastic in the sea than there are stars in our galaxy and by 2050 it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish" - The independent.
Bali is paradise on earth, but unfortunately is becoming an embarrassing poster child for Indonesia ( and The World's ) trash problem and sometimes up to 100 tons of rubbish are being removed from beaches in Bali every day. Crazy right!? This is all about awareness and mindfulness, and it we do not do something about this soon, it won't only be bali sinking under trash, but the whole of our beautiful Mama Earth.
How can you do you bit for tackling this issue in everyday life?
Carry your own bag
Buy in bulk
Support a bag tax or ban
Purchase items secondhand
Stop buying plastic water bottles
Wean yourself off disposable plastics ( grocery bags, plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee-cup lids)
As for the dogs, there is a also a huge stray dog problem here. You will quite often see dogs ( as well as cows, cats and chickens ) living amongst the trash. There's many animals with loving homes, but there are many more animals that are wandering the streets and beaches for scraps of food. Everywhere you look or go you'll see stray dogs. I've heard a few stories of viscous dogs, but the only experiences I have had have been heartwarming, and I absolutely love the dogs here. They have a wonderful nature and temperament, and the chilled Bali life has most certainly rubbed off on them! I love dogs, and last time I was in Bali I cared for a small puppy who was found on the beach. She was so cool! The most wonderful dog, with such a wild manner. She would hunt and disappear for hours ( like a western cat) and there was no way in hell that she'd walk with a lead, but she would still jump up for love and gave me so much joy. I eventually had to leave Bali, and found it very hard to re-house her, because there are just SO many stray puppies that need homes.
Although you see dogs everywhere, it's actually a myth that there are 'too' many dogs in Bali.
"In 2008 the dog population was estimated to be approximately 600,000. With the outbreak of rabies and the ensuing mass culling, the number dropped to approximately 150,000 dogs. If numbers continue to drop, the Bali dog will be at risk of extinction. Aside from organised culling, hundreds of dogs’ lives are lost every week to the dog meat trade, acts of cruelty, disease, motor vehicle accidents and basic neglect. The situation is dire and the magnificent animal that is Bali’s heritage dog is under threat." - BAWA
This week I visited a beach just west of Canggu with a great friend of mine. When we arrived we were very sad to see a really skinny old dog routing through a huge pile of rubbish. Unfortunately, the dog was scared of us and ran away before we had any chance of finding it food. We then carried on to the beach. We were the only ones on there, with a miles of empty, beautiful black sand and palm trees as far as you could see either side of us. About 5 minutes in, something caught our eye no more 10 metres away , and to our surprise we saw a tiny white puppy. She was so small ( and skinny ) but very happy to see us. Seconds later another emerged from the bushes. It had sores all over it's face and was even smaller than the first one. It was at this moment that we realised that this area of bush on the beach was just full with trash, and these poor little pups were living amongst it. A few minutes later, we heard some more rustling and another tiny puppy was in the bush but was too scared to come out to us. We were soon joined by the mama, who was so skinny and slow. She had a very sore looking back leg, and as soon as the puppies saw her they were desperate for milk. The poor girl was obviously in a lot of discomfort, and the puppies were really hurting her by suckling at her tits, so she attacked them and soon left. It was so heartbreaking to watch. The puppies were squealing and ran to us for comfort. In this moment ( because they generally all looked a little sore and bruised, and were all quite skinny), it became clear to us that they couldn't feed from their mother, and if they tried it resulted in a hard bite. We sat with them for a while trying to entice the more timid one out of the bush so that we could take them somewhere they could be looked after properly, but the little shy guy wouldn't come out of the bush. Of course we ventured into a nearby village to get them some food, and when we return it was absolutely inhaled. This sort of thing it's really hard to see, especially when you're like me and are such an animal lover. It's one thing finding tiny babies like this on the beach, but it's another finding them living in piles of trash. These pups are not always being neutered, and in more remote areas like this beach are unlikely to be found by 'westerners' who are usually the ones to feed and re-house them. It means that there are alot of pups dying from starvation, or growing up to be ill like there mother, and then having puppies who are unable to feed.
Without a doubt, there's a lot of people trying to tackle both the issue of trash and homeless dogs on the island, but it's something that really needs a bigger movement.
"90% of the dogs you see on Bali’s streets have a place to which they “belong”, but this is not ownership as understood in the Western context. A Bali dog may “belong” to a family, kampung, warung or other place of business, but this does not mean that the people involved will necessarily give it food or water or otherwise assume any responsibility for its care". - BAWA
It's all about awareness, and using initiative to see which dogs need help when approaching this issue of Bali Dogs. Finding pups like these ones is something that shouldn't be ignored at all however, and there are options to do something that doesn't involve keeping them for yourself. And finding pups living in trash is certainly something to act upon! Soon we will be living on an earth surrounded by trash, and beautiful islands such as Bali will just be one huge pile of rubbish which is no holiday destination for anyone! How sad and terrible is that! There are quite often groups gathering to clean rubbish in Bali, which is amazing! And there are many dog homes and beautiful people who have dedicated their life here to neutering dogs to stop an uncontrollable reproduction of strays.This is where I hope this post will bring these issues to your attention when travelling to Bali. It's such a popular spot here at the moment, and many people visit without even considering these issues as their own, but it is all our earth and our responsibility to do something so simple as to contact Dog charities when you see stray puppies or get up early one day between cocktails by the pool and contribute to a beach clean up. But how can we do more?! Maybe 50 people will read this post, maybe 100, but it's just not enough to only read it.
Please share this however you can, and let's be more conscious about keeping our earth clean and our animals safe! If you would like to contribute to cleaning up when in Bali see the following :
And if you find any dogs especially puppies like these little ones, please see:
Or please contact me and I will pass you onto the vets and other contacts I have!