What are Chinese or ‘sky’ lanterns?
Often used in celebrations such as weddings, they tend to be made of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame and an open flame heat source.
Heat lifts the lantern into the air where it can float for miles from the point of release. Once extinguished, a lantern will fall back down to earth, endangering the lives of animals both on the ground and in water.
What harm can be caused by a Chinese lantern?
Chinese lanterns can cause injury, suffering, and even death, through:
Livestock (e.g. cattle) can eat or become caught in lantern debris in grazing vegetation, or eat lantern parts accidentally chopped into animal feed during harvest.
If an animal eats sharp lantern parts, these can tear and puncture the throat, stomach or internal organs causing internal bleeding or, in worst cases, death.
An animal that has become trapped or entangled in a fallen lantern can suffer from injury, stress and panic as it struggles to free itself, or eventually die from starvation.
A sky lantern may land when the flame is still alight, making it a fire hazard. In typical designs, as long as the lantern stays upright the paper will not get hot enough to ignite, but if the balloon is tilted (say, by the wind or by hitting some object), it may catch fire while still in the air. All the paper will usually burn in a few seconds, but the flame source may remain lit until it hits the ground.