There is no limit to the cruelty that man makes animals suffer from. I have seen it in many countries and still see it today in spite of worldwide outcry. Apart from man’s cruelty towards fellow human beings that one sees almost daily in the news and reads in the papers, animals of all kinds have been subjected to most violent types of treatment that has decimated their ranks worldwide. A magnificent lion called Cecil was gunned down by a rich American trophy hunter in Africa that brought worldwide condemnation through the internet and press but one sees this sort of outrage again and again because there is no law that prevents people from murdering in cold blood these beautiful animals. Some even boast that they have hunted all the magnificent wild animals like lions and tigers and are looking for more such killing for their own ego and pleasure. The taxidermists take the head of the slain animal and mount it on a board that these cruel people then hang in their houses to show off.
When we were growing up, we were naturally filled with empathy for the wounded birds or animals and brought them home to take care, feed and watch them recover and grow. One time I found a newly hatched bird called Bulbuli that had fallen off its nest during the storm and would have surely died had I not rescued it. It had no feathers and was starving so we the siblings took turns in feeding it several times a day and kept a watchful eye to prevent the feral cats to attack it. That ugly chick soon started growing feathers of rainbow colors and had a crown on top of its head and became a beautiful Bulbuli. We grew so fond of it because it learned to whistle so nicely but alas the cat was its enemy so one day it killed the bird.
Once I found a nest just 4 feet off the ground in a hole of the wall of our house that was under construction. There were 4 eggs in the nest that the mama bird called Khanjani came frequently to sit on. Soon the eggs hatched and out came four tiny chicks that the mama bird fed nonstop so they grew and started to drop out on the ground. I put them back in the nest every time because the cats were always around so to prevent them from falling out, I built a clay wall in front of the nest with a round hole in it through which the mama bird could feed the chicks. We were very happy when they learned to fly and one day left.
I thought this empathy comes naturally to children until I went to Algeria where I could see children torturing tethered animals by poking sticks in their anus. These poor animals suffered because they could not get away and no one stopped and told these children that it was wrong to torture animals. When such children grow up, they feel nothing for others let alone animals. I see in many countries including India where animals are tortured but people just look the other way and never stop to tell these people that it is wrong to do so.
You see wild bears that people put a rope through the nose and drag the poor beast to make him dance for a few pennies. It is extremely painful for the animal every time the madari pulls the cord to make the bear dance but they are nomads and make a living this way and continue this trade. Once we were driving down the road to Jaipur from Agra when we saw a bear on the road so we started counting. We gave up after counting no less than 18 bears being pulled this way by their handlers but there are thousands of such poor animals being tortured every day just so that these illiterate unskilled people can earn a few Rupees. Now an NGO has come to their rescue and has set up a sanctuary somewhere. There the bears are given proper veterinary care, food and most of all freedom from torture. The handlers are given some money and training to learn a new trade like basket making or carpentry through which they can earn a living. Now a days one does not see as many bears on the road but I am sure there still are thousands that need rescue and help but NGOs run their sanctuary through donations only with little or no help from the government.
In China they raise these bears in bear farms to extract the bile and sell it as a kind of medicine. The extraction process is extremely painful for the animal and the bear bile is of dubious reputation as a medicine but the Chinese continue this awful practice even today. I have heard that the World Wildlife Fund is setting up sanctuaries for these poor bears and some have been rescued this way but more needs to be done.
The most pathetic case I know of was that of an elephant who was chained for 50 years since birth but under pressure from the animal lovers and welfare society was released. She cried and shed copious tears once she realized that she was free for the first time in her miserable life. Believe it or not, animals feel emotions just like us and show it specially an intelligent animal like the elephant.
The orcas in the Sea World in the United States are so sad and frustrated in their closed pen that they attacked the handler and killed her. There was a public outcry to release her in the ocean where they belong but you see this sort of cruelty to animals everywhere and nowhere more so than in circuses. Behind their glitz and glamour and lights there are sad routines of cruelty to their animals. These beautiful animals like tigers, lions, elephants etc. are beaten, starved and given electric shocks to bring them to submission.
One small elephant in India was beaten until he learned to stand on one leg and hold a ball in his trunk. He was being trained as a mascot for the Asian games but the visitors never knew about it. The snake charmers, monkey charmers, bear handlers, elephant handlers are all guilty of this crime but there is more awareness among the common people through the internet, NGOs and newspapers these days . People are waking up to the fact that these cruelties are done to these animals and must stop. They must return these animals to their natural habitat or into the care of sanctuaries that are being set up in some parts.
In the Philippines I see how brutally dogs are treated. They are kept in small cages that are so restrictive that the poor animal can’t even turn around .These cages have no shade so the dog suffers horribly from the heat and exhaustion. They also kill dogs to eat them although this is being discouraged by the government. In China, Vietnam and Thailand there are no such discouragement so the dog meat is sold openly. In the United States the Pit bulls are chained with very heavy duty chains to make their necks strong. They are raised as fighting dogs that earn a lot of money for their owners who gamble on the fights.
Man has been cruel to his fellow beings that has resulted in slavery, death and untold misery. Why man is so cruel to others is a subject perhaps for another essay but it will suffice to say that it is inherent in the human nature to have no empathy for others who are not like them that result in cruelty. It can be religion based, race based or may have other historical reasons. A great deal of violence against people is politically motivated where regional powers fight with each other directly or through proxy to gain geo political advantage so people suffer. This is happening in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, tribal part of Pakistan and elsewhere. Often religion is used as an excuse but the result is the same. Millions are displaced and become refugees and hundreds of thousands are killed and wounded. Whole cities are being levelled in the name of war to win territories.
But going back to ancient times, it has always been the same story. The Roman were always fighting to add more territories to collect more revenues for their greedy kings while others like Genghis Khan and Alexander put millions to sword and caused wholesale slaughter of innocent people who had meant no harm to them. The Romans made a great sport out of killing animals and gladiators in their numerous coliseums that were filled to capacity by the common people who enjoyed such blood sports. How many thousands of lions, tigers and other animals were sacrificed this way is not recorded but often such blood sports lasted several weeks. Human and animal life was not worth anything unless you were Roman.
Man has decimated the wildlife in Africa to such an extent that once teeming herds of elephants have been reduced to a few that are being protected by armed guards to save them from poachers. Often you see the government in Kenya or Tanzania burning thousands of ivory tusks that they have confiscated from poachers but the slaughter goes on to satisfy the demands of the ivory carvers in Hong Kong or China. They kill the few remaining rhinoceroses for their horns just because they fetch a high price in Yemen.
The United States government does not ban trophy hunting by rich people who go to Africa to kill Cecil the great lion and take photos posing with the dead lion. They have no shame. The argument that the money earned by the governments in Africa through license fee to kill the animals helps them save other animals sounds so hollow. People make more money through tourism and wildlife photography safaris than hunting because not only it saves the animals, it creates jobs for local people who organize safaris, put up hotels and other facilities and revitalize the handicraft industry. Of course there are thieves who run away with your camera or tote bag in Masai Mara but that is a part of the new trend.
A change in attitude is needed
I as a child used to see numerous river dolphins in Jamuna river in my home town. I did not know then that they were rare and very precious but the fishermen who killed them did not care and said that they could earn some money selling the dolphin oil. These wonderful playful animals were hunted down to the last one so now you see none except a few that have survived in Ganga river in Benares. The government never paid any attention to the wildlife in those days but now people are more aware and there is an effort to save what remains before they too are hunted down. What will the plains of Africa look like when all the big animals are killed and become extinct?
Children should be taught in grade schools how beautiful these animals are, how majestic and how rare they all are. They should be taught to understand that killing them or treating them cruelly is not normal and it must stop so that when they grow up, they will not become trophy hunters or keeps dogs in small cages. It takes more than a generation to instill this awareness through education so that they can grow up as responsible citizens and will learn to love and protect these beautiful animals. It may be too late for some species but it is never too late to start now. The poor Africans who insist on poaching must be given other choices to earn a living. Some have become conservationists and game wardens while others work as tourist guides and trackers.
I really appreciate what a good job the NGOs in India and China are doing to save the bears but many animals need help. People also can help by not buying fur coats, animal products and ivory carvings. They should teach their children that all animals need to be free living in their natural habitat and pet dogs and cats should always be treated in the most humane way. Wild animals should not be kept as pets because they die of loneliness. They never learn how to survive in the wilderness because they were separated from their mothers. That is why the rescued bears in India are kept in the sanctuaries because they can’t be released into the forest. If you keep a wild animal as a pet who does not belong at home then please release it to the care of sanctuaries where they can look after them better. When a tormented animal is rescued, he shows his gratitude in unmistakable ways by shedding tears of joy. That should be enough motivation for anyone to do the right thing.