Mahatma Gandhi once rightly said, “The greatness of a nation is judged by the way it treats its animals.”
We are celebrating World Wildlife Day today. While wildlife might be limited to the animals living in the jungles, is the urban or rural world any different than a jungle of sorts?
There are a gazillion atrocities that are committed against animals and its time someone spoke about it and they are put to a stop. What better day to talk about those wrongs committed against animals than today?
1. Goat, horse and other animal sacrifices in the name of religion:
In the Yajur Veda, we read about the Ashvamedha ritual where a horse is sacrificed. While fanatics may go gaga over anyone saying that something done in the ‘Ramayana’ is wrong – killing a horse is wrong. No matter what be the reason. We shouldn’t glorify it.
Even today, goat sacrifices are pretty common during various festivals and rituals. Be it a select few Durga Puja celebrations or in certain remote areas of India- the goat is sacrificed to deities – known as ‘bali’. One such instance is Orissa’s Kandhen Budhi Yatra.
In September 2016, a PIL was filed in Allahabad High Court that said, ‘Bakri-id is cruel, inhuman and barbarian. Tendency to sacrifice animals, even on roads and public places, are developing fast every year on Bakr-Eid in the most uncouth and inhuman manner and litres of blood is spread at public places affecting the sentiments of public at large.’
Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act bans animal slaughter – except for religious sacrifices. We need to understand that if ‘God’ made all creatures on this planet, why would ‘God’ want the gruesome murder of a living creature or be pleased?
And because we are talking about horses, have you ever wondered about the health and treatment of the horse on which you wait for your husband-to-be to arrive on during your fairytale wedding or the horse that you put your children on so they can have fun? Horse-drawn carriages are banned in Mumbai but we still see them around often. Think not twice but thrice the next time.
2. The inhumane cockfights:
A report in Huffington Post reads, ‘Cockfights, a common and age-old ‘sport’ looked forward to during the Hindu new year festival of Sankranti in South India, has been in the midst of several controversies over the years. From the legal no-nos such as the Gaming Act, to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the police in Andhra Pradesh, especially in areas such as Krishna, Guntur, West and East Godavari districts has been clamping down hard on this bloodthirsty practice.’ However, this practice has continued underground to escape the eyes of the law.
People enjoy and cheer on as the cocks try to kill each other to death. Violence becomes a sport! And it is not just in South India. People of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana too enjoy cockfights. According to a report in India Today, which talks about Bhogi (bonfire), the three-day long Makar Sankranti festival, states, ‘The festival celebrating good harvest is the biggest and main festival of Andhra and so the enthusiasm also remains high. But over the years, the festival has also been criticised animal rights activists as it involves bull race, bullfights as well as cockfights. However, because of strict court orders, the bullfight and race have stopped, but the cockfight is still going on in Andhra Pradesh.’
These cocks are fed nutritious diets and categorised into four categories as per their strength. All this to only get them killed for the disgusting enjoyment of the humans.
While you can go to a mall and sit on a pseudo-bull, holding its hump and testing your strength – you just cannot put animal and human lives at stake for a sport. Yes, we are talking about Jallikattu. It is practiced in the state of Tamil Nadu in India as a part of Pongal celebrations.
According to a report in The Hindu, ‘Between 2008 and 2014, 43 humans and 4 bulls were killed in the Jallikattu events. In 2017, there were 23 deaths in addition to about 2,500 human injuries and several instances of injury to the bulls.’
The arguments of those who support Jallikattu have been that the sport is a tradition and so it is right. But doesn’t every tradition need to reassessed with the changing times? There is a reason Sati (which was also a tradition’ is banned. We change with the times.
4. Ruthless treatment of elephants:
January to April are the cruelest months for the captive elephants in Kerala when the places of worship in the God’s Own Country celebrates various annual festivals, reads a report in The Hindu. Furthermore, it states, ‘The hapless animals in captivity are put to stand in the scorching sun, denying even food, water and sleep, in the name of religion and tourism promotion. It is also a fact that no scripture or religious text says that temple elephant should be part of temple festivals, says Ms. Sandhya, district co-ordinator of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals (SPCA).’
Heritage Animal Task Force, a body that focuses on the welfare of animals reported that 26 elephants in captivity had died in 2016 due to the neglect of the caretakers. The report by the task force also says that the elephants that are kept at the temples are chained and are often without shelter. Their legs, as a result, get infected with urine and dung and cause an array of other diseases.
And that is not it. Remember those tourist places that offer a ride on the back of an elephant and then the elephant sprays water on your through its trunk? The next time you sign up for something like that, think twice. Read this Facebook post:
5. Cosmetic testing on animals like mice, rabbits, guinea pigs:
There is a nation-wide ban on the cosmetic testing of animals in India. However there are a few loopholes in that law, like for instance, you could import cosmetics that are tested on animals. PETA India, on its website, lists the names of famous cosmetic companies that still do animal testing like Avon, Garnier, Biotherm (L’Oréal), Clean & Clear (Johnson & Johnson), Dolce & Gabbana (Procter & Gamble), Dove, Head & Shoulders (Procter & Gamble) etc. For a complete list visit here.
Next time you buy a product, chose those that do not test on animals. Here is a list.
6. Everyday cruelty against strays dogs, cats and birds:
I can’t help but think about that group of ignorant children who threw stones at every dog they could see on the road, ‘for fun’. And how chasing them away and protecting the dog was only a temporary solution; the permanent being punishing them and changing the mindsets. That’s not it. Many animals are run over by vehicles and left to die. Every year, we read about so many cases where a man throws a dog off from a height, or beats the poor dog to death or kills a cat for his pleasure!
And that isn’t all. According to an article on ipleaders.in, ‘There is an urgent need to amend the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules enacted in the year 2001 as under these rules animal organizations after the completion of animal birth control surgeries, which is basically sterilizing and vaccinating them do not provide any special treatment and release them in the area from where they were picked. Since the surgery makes them vulnerable, they are subjected to attacks and cruel treatment.’
Also, unknowingly, we end up hurting a lot of birds during kite-flying festivals. There are people who kill peguins, even in urban cities, for consumption.
One of the greatest atrocities we are committing on the animals is by encroaching upon their homes and making them ours. Why do you think that we hear news about a leopard killing people? How did we get so close to it?
So many animals like deer, tigers, peacocks are murdered for the ‘sellable’ things they offer like skin, musks, feathers etc. in spite of a law for the prevention of the same being in place. To have a really happy ‘World Wildlife Day’ – we need to start behaving like humans.
Preview Photo: huffingtonpost.com