Photo by Pranidchakan Boonrom: pexels
‘’The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon on the murder of men”.

The words by Leonardo da Vinci may have fallen on a lot of deaf ears in India but not to the ones of those true humans.

We have heard of ‘Superman’, ’Batman’, ’Spiderman’- the man-made saviors of humanity who are much celebrated and idealized. But what will you call these real-life unsung heroes who have selflessly dedicated their lives to saving and nurturing animals in India? For their work and humanity are the best introductions they could or should ever have. While there are several renowned organizations working for the welfare of animals, who have stood by their cause and have helped countless animals survive. Here are some heroes and heroines of nature.

Pratima Devi, who is a rag-picker and lives in a parking lot of an area considered as one of the swankiest in South Delhi, Sanket. She’s just not a normal morning to evening rag-picker who is seen on roads picking the left-over joys, sorrows throw by you and me. She is also a messiah of dogs who are living a blessed a life. She has been single-handedly feeding over 70 dogs since almost 30 years now and was awarded with the Godfrey Bravery Award in the year 2009 for her ‘social bravery’.

Dorothy Ghosh- completed MBA, an artist and a website developer. She have perfect life and a good job with neat pay package and a comfortable routine. But she might have lost a so-called convenient set-up of her life because of her passion to rescue dogs and cats to gain a lot of love, respect and admiration. Later she even start a shelter for them and Kalyani Welfare Foundation (NGO) came into being in 2010. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. She spend all her savings to collect funds and thereon, take a land on 5-year lease in village Bharti in Delhi. Apart from a few private donors, she gets no aid from the government and her mother donates her entire pension to bear the rent. Like this they managed all hardships alone and she has been in this noble service for over 20 years now. That’s the ‘one-woman’ army of our country.

Like this many individuals and organizations came forward to save animals from extinction and human predators who like to hunt them for their personal gains.

But yet there are some horrible stories about the cruelties against animals.

In 2020, a news spread recklessly. An elephant died in Kerala on 27 May after eating pineapple stuffed with firecrackers. She was pregnant and died in agony, drowning from exhaustion after wading into a river to soothe the pain. Farmers use these pineapples to scare boars away from their fields. But cruelty, they inflicted this violence on an animal merely passing through a village.

In 2019 I went through a post, in the video a herd of elephants was walking along a river when they saw a man, who does know how to swim. However, the elephant perhaps thought the man was in danger, so stepped into the river and swam towards the man to protect the man, being a child himself. Isn’t so adorable? All these elephant want is love and compassion. They are very protective of their and others’ children. They form close bonds, friendships, and much like humans, prioritize these companions over others. They celebrate births and mourn deaths. Elephants don’t want conflicts. They want to live their own lives.

There are more than 7 billion people on Earth. Imagine if we every single one of us committed to do one thing, no matter how small, to protect wildlife every day. Even minor actions can have a major impact when we all work together.

From wild animals to wild places, there’s an option for everyone. We can adopt an animal from a wildlife conservation organization such as the WWF. Adoptions can help fund organizations.

If we don’t have money to donate, donate your time. Many organizations and zoos have volunteer programs. We can help clean beaches, rescue wild animals or teach visitors.

Sometimes, trash isn’t just ugly, but also harmful. Birds and other animals can trap their heads in plastic rings, fish can stuck in nets. Moreover trash pollutes everyone’s natural resources. So, we should put trash in its place.

Each creature born on this planet is gifted the same resources by this bountiful world. We breathe the same air and live under the same sky. However, one species claims itself to govern and command the lives of the rest: humans. Humans exploit the lives of other creatures to satisfy their worldly desires. These non-humans are killed, maimed, poached and trafficked in brutal ways. Occasionally, they are subjected to cultural rituals and sacrificed in the name of God; other times, butchered in horrific ways for their skins and meats. Confined, chained and tortured, they are coerced into putting up shows for their human counterparts.

Animals have their own rights like any other creature on Earth, mean that animals deserve a certain kind of consideration—consideration of what is in their best interests, regardless of whether they are cute, resourceful, or an endangered species and regardless of whether any human cares about them at all. It means recognizing that animals are not ours to use—for food, clothing, entertainment, or experimentation (What Do You Mean by “Animal Rights”?, 2017). The need for these rights arises upon viewing themselves as righteous beings capable of feeling the same emotions as humans do: love, pain, anger, sadness, anxiety, and joy to begin. Typically, ethics is a critical reflection on how we should act and why. Similarly, animal ethics deals with how and why we should take animals into account in our moral decisions. Different ethical theories disagree about how we should act in many situations. For example, according to some views, it is always wrong to a lie, regardless of the consequences. According to others, whether or not we should lie depends on the situation and the outcome for those affected by it. Despite their many differences, the most widely accepted ethical theories all support a defence of the moral consideration, which in the case of non-human animals is the rejection of practising discrimination against non-human animals, or specialism.

Humans were late to understand the consequences of their actions and ironically, what they considered as ‘progress’ was harming them the most. Therefore, nations collectively, under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have been taking crucial steps to curb the problem. As the 2030 Agenda envisages a development model in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and protection of other living species, two SDGs specifically become relevant to animal welfare. As a part of SDG 14, life below Water, and SDG 15, Life on Land, marine and territorial and wildlife animals respectively are being targeted. Just the fact that animal welfare is being recognised as important for achieving SDGs holds the potential to make progress in achieving conservation of non-human species and ultimately, biodiversity.

However, despite the recognition, a very long path lies ahead of all the nations, including India, to pay the pending dues to the other species and potentially revert the harm that has already been caused to their communities and habitats. A nation in today’s world cannot be entitled to the term “developed” without achieving absolute protection for its animals. As Mahatma Gandhi once said,

“The greatness of a nation and its progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. 

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