Death of an Elephant
The Kerala elephant attrocity offers a fertile ground for social change but the will to execute it is missing.
In an emotional social media post, Forest Section Officer Mohana Krishnana narrated the excruciating pain the pregnant elephant had to go through because she fled to a village in search of food. The villagers fed her an pineapple laced with firecrackers.
This is inhumane and no matter how immune you are, animal cruelty is heart wrenching for all.
The cost of human evolution is paid by animals in an unimaginable way. Be it, wildlife or cattles, their lives were sacrificed to make our food needs satisfied.
History of Animal Cruelty
Not only for food, but also for our comfort, on record these animals have been tortured since last 10,000 years.
When hunter gatherers started living in a hut nearby their fields and started agriculture, they needed some lifestyle changes.
Animals were made scapegoats in such scenario, literally.
Billions of chickens & eggs are consumed everyday in today’s world.
The cattles like cows, lambs, buffaloes are slaughtered to keep meat industry flourishing.
Even when they’re kept alive, they can’t be free. They live in a box slightly bigger than their size without any interaction with other cattles. The only interaction among livestock is allowed for reproduction.
The thing about cattles is that the male calf is a secondary product. Female when grown up, gives milk but the male calf isn’t of much use to the owner. So, they are sold to butchers. Only a few males are kept alive to impregnate the females.
We are completely controlling every aspect of their lives.
Wild life is not alien to human brutality.
The farmers want to save their crops & Livestock. Their fields & domesticated animals are prone to animal attacks.
So, killing the wild boars, nilgay, deers, leopard etc. is a common practice in the world.
Preserving an animal’s body via mounting (over an armature) or stuffing, for the purpose of display or study itself shows our stoic attitude towards animals.
Extinction of most of the animals is due to human intervention.
For example, Australian megafauna comprised a number of large animal species in Australia, often defined as species with body mass estimates of greater than 45 kg (100 lb) or equal to or greater than 130% of the body mass of their closest living relatives, that lived during the Pleistocene epoch(about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago).
These were large Koalas, Kangaroos and fowl like emu and ostriches but they were way heavier.
Most of these mega fauna species became extinct around 70,000~65,000 years ago, when the first human stepped in Australian continent.
The human role is debatable in this extinction because the Australian continent was going through a climate change during Pleistocene epoch. Some pro- human argues that it was end of the glacial age that made these large animals extinct. However, the entry of humans on a continent and extinction of mega fauna doesn’t seem a coincidence to many anthropologists.
Their theory is that during peak glaciation (about 18,000 years ago) most of the megafauna were already extinct by this time.
However, the detailed studies show that humans were the ultimate cause of the extinction for 50 out of 88 of the megafauna in Australia.
Following claims strengthen the argument-
- Before the arrival of the humans, fire was non existent in Australia. Their excessive use of fire not only led to mass killings of animals in forests, but also caused environmental changes which resulted in end of ice age and sea level rise.
- The behemoth animals of Australia were the first choice for a kill because it could feed a group of hunter gatherers for days. Small animals were hunted only in case of non availability of large animals.
- from over 200 sites, revealed marks of cooking in human-made fires, presumably the first direct evidence of human contribution to the extinction of a species of the Australian megafauna. Even if these cooking sites were smaller for cooking large animals, eggs shells found nearby proves that humans contributed in making fowls extinct by taking away all the eggs.
Human Uses of Animals:
Mostly we use animals for food and clothing. They are used for meat, dairy, skin and furs primarily.
Animals are pet too. But only a handful of animals get along with dominant homo sapiens.
We want our pets to be submissive and hence, cat, dog, little birds and some mammals are the popular choices.
Mammals form a large part of the livestock raised for meat across the world. More than 200 million animals are killed for food around the world every day – just on land. If we include wildlife and fisheries, the total goes up to 3 billion animals killed a day.
In 2018, there were some 23.7 billion chickens in the world, making it world’s largest community.
The data might defer year to year but the ground reality is that there’s no thing as humane slaughter. Farms are hiding behind deceptive labels as cage-free & humane meat to make you feel less guilty.
Homo Sapiens - The Race of Opportunists
Recent animal cruelty in Kerala took me back to a horrific incident happened 3 years back.
I was coming back home after a long tiring day. Enroute there was a mass gathered in a circle, a guy was beating a dog with large bamboo stick and the stray dog died in front of me because of the thrash beating.
The onlookers said the dog had gone savage.
We proudly call ourselves homo sapiens (wise man), but we rarely show any wisdom.
When we have the option of taking the savage animal to the vet clinic, we choose to kill the animal.
When the onlookers have the option to raise voice against this cruelty, we chose to pass by and live our lives like nothing happened.(Including me.)
We are extremely opportunists.
This incident made me sick to my guts and I felt nausiatic for almost 2 months.
I can’t alter what has been transpired, but I know that I wasn’t right at that very moment & I won’t keep mum if I see any animal cruelty again.
It’s too heavy on my heart to live in a world where attrocity is acceptable. And, it resonates with many people.
After the recent incident, people are criticizing Keralaites for being insensitive towards animals, which is our defence mechanism to not feel the morale compass of being responsible for such happening.
Have you never been part of such happenings?
- Did you never kill an animal for fun? Even if it’s a frog, if you killed an innocent animal, you are complicit too.
- Did you never eat non-veg food because you find it lip smacking?
- Did you never had dairy products?
If the answer is no to even any one of these questions, you are in the same ship as the people who fed firecrackers to the elephant.
A Sensitive Society - The Road Ahead
If we want such incidents to stop, the first step is to become sensitive towards every living being.
No matter how grave human’s conflicts are with animals species, it is not our place to destroy or kill animal.
Our selective stand on animal life, one is precious than another, makes the situation even grave.
Life of a wild boar or pig is as precious as the life of a sacred animal.
As a society, it is important to teach each other about animals & their place in the ecosystem. Because those who are inflicting pain to animals are threats to humanity itself.
It is seen that the troubled kid who keeps killing animals as a child turns out to be a sociopath as an adult.
Ed Kemper, an American serial killer who killed his mother alongside 10 young girls, accepted killing cats before beginning his killing spree . The criminal psychologists often see inflicting pain to animals as a deviant behaviour.
If you ever see someone who has gone berserk with animals, make sure you report it to authorities like Police, Forest department or Animal rescue body like PETA.
Don’t let it become another normal. When we are living in proximity to wildlife, there are several non lethal ways to protect our property and lives.
But where it becomes necessary to put down an animal, what is the point of using such weapons as a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers? Not only must those who killed the elephant by such cruel means be punished, state & central government must ensure that no one else continues such practices.