Humans and animals have been sharing earth and her resources ever since their co-existence. The ancient civilizations very well reveal the relation of man and animals in an interdependent manner.
Be it from the old cave paintings depicting various animals and birds or the bullock cart toys excavated from Indus valley civilization.
Animals have been crucial for man in many ways. Initially humans were nomadic, they hunted down animals for food.
The realization that certain animals are easy to catch because they do not intend to harm man, turned humans into a pastoral community.
Man led group of sheep or cattle’s, protecting and guiding them. Gradually animal became more than just source of food, when humans started using them for transport, in fields for farming and began to mulch some. Man’s livelihood has always been associated with animals.
In ancient societies many animals were even worshiped and given divine status. With evolution of society and passage of centuries the relationship of man with animals has changed significantly.
The animal once treated empathetically and as part of family, today are subjected to pain, torture and trouble for human pleasure.
Poor animals are vulnerable and defenseless in modern world. Mistreatment of animals is done on various accounts. Firstly, they are used for medical experiments.
As animal share similar living needs and body organs like human they are subjected to variation of techniques from gene alteration, to heavy dosage of drugs for studying its effects on man, testing the curing capacity by injecting disease causing virus.
In the process of finding a cure to our diseases and abnormalities we end up tampering normal lives of animals and make them suffer immensely.
Secondly, to meet food demands of growing population, animals are bred and raised on severe drugs that increase their body mass and flesh in no time.
This is done for higher profit by expediting normal time that an animal might take to grow. The requirement of eggs and meat might get met, but the cruelty on meek animals who can’t even protest keeps soaring.
They are used as parts of machine in industries for large scale profit making. Thirdly, on the name of development, fast paced urbanization is encroaching upon natural habitat of wild and free animal species.
Making animals homeless and inviting man-animal conflicts. The cases of leopard entering human habitations and Elephants getting hit by trains are cases that highlight this.
Fourthly, due to lack of sensitivity when men carelessly throw leftovers and garbage in open it invites animals to feed on.
Who may eat some non-edible poisonous item like expiry medicines, fine stapler pins or discarded shaving blades and suffer a severe extremely painful death for no fault of their own.
The incidences of recovering loads of plastic bags from cattle’s stomach show the graveness of this.
Fifthly, poaching which means hunting animals illegally for their skin, shell, tusks and smuggling them to earn money has led to massive death of animal species in protected areas.
Sixthly, for human pleasure the culture of engaging animals in circus and likes of bull fight or bullock cart racing are an evidence of least compassionate attitude humans have developed and mistreatment that animals undergo.
Seventhly, Animal sacrifices on the name of culture is another grim area. Eighthly, the leather industry working with animal skin is found to be cruel in its approach of treating the dead animals and follows horrendous practices.
Outside the profit makers, smugglers, careless polluters and researcher’s realm there are people who worry for animals too.
They understand how an animal at the helm of torture suffers agony, feels extreme pain and cries just like us. These people raise issue of animal rights.
It refers to basic respect and dignity to any living organism to survive in his domain peacefully. A tiger happy and free in a forest is enjoying his basic rights, but if it is caught and caged or hunted down for skin it would be violation of his rights.
The right to live. World over numerous organizations under UN like world animal net NGO, or WWF – World Wildlife Fund have been working to put a check on animal suffering. In India also, laws are in place. Killing or abandoning of an animal is an offence.
Animals cannot be slaughtered anywhere except slaughterhouses and neglecting animal by denying food or shelter is punishable under “Prevention of cruelty to Animal Act”.
The capture and training of animals like Monkey & Bear for entertainment purposes is illegal. Cosmetic testing is banned on animals. Animal sacrifice is illegal.
In order to protect wildlife, prevent poaching and smuggling “The Wildlife Protection Act” was formulated that has more stringent punishment and penalty for offences under the act.
Creation of Natural Parks, Wildlife sanctuaries, Biosphere Reserves are also steps to safeguard animals.
Many animals are becoming extinct due to anthropogenic activities and special programmes like “Save the Tiger” are started.
Our ecosystem is diverse and dependent on every animal in its food chain and food web. Even if an animal goes extinct the whole ecosystem can collapse.
Like Tiger is a top predator if number of tigers decrease the check on prey population would be lost. The prey in that case would overgraze and shun the region’s ecology and dependent organisms would soon be extinct too.
State can make laws but their implementation in letter and spirit would be a challenge as long as people do not actively step up against it.
Simple steps like discarding ivory product, or being vigilant about animals in your locality, behaving responsibly in a zoo or protected area, carefully discarding sharp edged and poisonous material can make a huge difference.
Even United Nations has launched Sustainable Development Goal that envisages “…in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and other living species are protected”.
We humans are civilized beings, we have to take onus of protecting and safeguarding interests of animals.
We are blessed with capability to understand others pain, it’s high time we stop giving in to profit making at the cost of animals suffering.