Cruelty to animals
India is home to some rare species of fauna. To protect them from incompatible human actions like hunting, poaching, felling of trees and urbanisation, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ushered in two laws — the Wildlife Protection Act in 1972 and the Forest Conservation Act of 1980. However, by that time India had lost a species of big cat, namely cheetah. In fact, cheetah had vanished from the subcontinent way back in 1962. Now the country is trying hard to restore the
lost pride by cloning one.
Wildlife experts attribute the disappearance of cheetah to hunting. But cheetah is not the only species to bear the brunt of man’s insensitive behaviour. It is very likely that India will lose tiger too in near future, if poaching and habitat shrinkage are not curbed. Forty per cent of the world’s tigers reside in India. In the late 1980s, it had over 4,000 animals. Two decades later, in 2004, the figure dropped to 3,723.
The dwindling number of tigers is of concern to conservationists. But nothing substantial has been done to protect these endangered species. The tiger population in the Sariska National Park faced a massive wrath due to economic activities such as poaching, mining and extensive farming. Today there are no tigers in this park. Its beautiful skin, head, claws, meat and blood have attracted the voracious appetite of man. These body parts are utilised in concocting traditional Chinese medicine that commands a high price.
Another rare and beautiful creature, chiru, found in the Himalayas, is slaughtered for its fine wool. Three Tibetan antelopes are butchered to weave one shahtoosh shawl that commands a price of $4,000. Though India banned shahtoosh trade in 1976, it is still flourishing illegally.
Today as few as 50,000 chiru live as compared with one million in 1900. When the CBI detained three traders who possessed 57 shawls recently, the ugliness and gore of this fashion symbol loomed large. Behind those 57 shawls, the blood of 161 chiru was spilled. Despite laws protecting these voiceless creatures, as many as 20,000 antelopes are slain every year.
Defenceless antelopes are also killed for the pleasure of hunting. Some celebrities revel in hunting antelopes. But seldom do they realise that these colourful lifestyles spill blood.
Another activity which has spelt doom for animals is deforestation. This action has resulted in habitat shrinkage forcing animals out of jungles into urban spaces for food. Moreover, this makes humans vulnerable to attacks by animals.
The blurring of boundaries is best illustrated by residential colonies erected near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. The craze for urbanisation has led to felling of trees and loss of prey for one of the stealthiest animals in this park, leopards. These big cats are caged if they attack humans in the nearby slums.
Humans perceive animals as objects for their use — meat, leather, trade, etc. They are denied their habitats. But animals also have the right to lead a life free of pain and suffering.
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