Dubai: A UAE-based scientist believes the authorities are not doing enough to combat the threat posed by plastic bags.
Hundreds of camels are still dying every year after swallowing fatal pollution dumped recklessly in the desert.
Dr Ulrich Wernery, Scientific Director at the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Dubai, told Gulf News municipalities must take action quickly to protect the country's wildlife and landscape from further damage.
His comments come as Gulf News continues its campaign urging people to say 'No to Plastic Bags'.
Dr Wernery said hundreds of evils, including plastic bags, were causing damage to the environment, adding they could be easily eradicated if the authorities introduced a raft of new measures to combat them.
He said: "The current situation is extremely worrying and it will take some time before we see any improvement.
"Animals that eat rocks of calcified plastic today will die within a year's time. It is an epidemic and I believe we have only seen the tip of the iceberg.
"In the northern emirates there are no fences enclosing animals, including camels, donkeys, gazelles and sheep, away from the general public. This makes it easier for them to eat plastic left behind by reckless individuals.
"I am still waiting for the authorities to do something about this. We have seen a lot of movement from individuals and private organisations in the last few months but very little is being done by municipalities.
"I provided the authorities with a brochure containing horrific pictures of camels dying and they were shocked but I am still waiting for new measures to be introduced."
Hundreds of camels die every year after ingesting plastic bags and ropes. Heavy rocks calcify in the camel or gazelle's stomach making it impossible for them to swallow. They eventually die of starvation.
Dr Wernery added: "I have been working on raising awareness on this issue for years but sometimes I felt like giving up because nobody seemed to be listening. However, there have been some encouraging signs over the last few months.
"School pupils are doing their best to raise awareness and there has also been a lot of movement from Gulf News and their brilliant campaign urging people to say 'No to Plastic Bags'.
"The root of the problem stems from years ago but finally people are realising that we cannot go on like this and we have to stop using plastic bags altogether."
Dr Wernery published a report in late 2007 highlighting a desert area in Ras Al Khaimah where owners continue to dump animals that have died from plastic ingestion.
He discovered over 30 carcasses in the area and found the scene so disturbing that he named the region 'Death Valley'.
Dr Wernery said: "I regularly visit schools and colleges to lecture students about the situation. I show them horrific pictures of camels dying in the desert and many are reduced to tears by the images.
"One initiative the authorities should consider is an incentive scheme for residents willing to recycle tin cans, glass bottles, old newspapers and plastic bags. People should be paid five or 10 fils for every item they bring to be recycled; I'm sure this would encourage a lot of people."