Regardless of the ongoing debate regarding animals and humans continue to be the superior race. We are said to have a more highly developed brain, which results in articulate speech and abstract reasoning. I mean there’s a reason we’re on the top of the food chain.
But, there have been so many incidents that prove otherwise. That’s right! I’m here to call people out!
The Cruelty of Man
I don’t have any credibility, but writing is the only way I deal with my emotions, so bear with me. Animals have and will continue to be extremely crucial to our ecosystem, which would suggest that we would continue to let them do their thing, right? Poaching wild animals, trying to convert them into picture-perfect house pets, and more doesn’t showcase that. I’m not saying every human being is an asshole, I mean they probably are, but not everyone is cruel to animals. And they know this too.
When this 15-year-old gentle giant wandered away from the forest and found her way into a nearby village in Kerala’s Malappuram looking for food, she probably believed that humans are her friends. Some locals allegedly fed Amba a pineapple filled with firecrackers, which was one of the traps laid out to help fend off wild boars. It is unclear if the villagers offered the snare, or if she came upon it herself, this still doesn’t make it right. The use of snares to either trap or kill an animal is a punishable offence under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The fruit exploded as soon as she took a bite, which resulted in a damaged tongue and a broken jaw. After which, she frantically walked around the village in pain. When she didn’t receive any help, she made her way to the Velliyar River and stayed there. She had her trunk and mouth submerged in the river the entire time she was in there, possibly acting as a relief to the wounds.
Mohan Krishna, a forest officer, took to Facebook on May 30th to bring this incident to light! He spoke about how, despite being in searing pain, Amba didn’t harm a single house or human. “This is why I said, she is full of goodness” he said.
He further mentioned that they brought two captive elephants named Surendran and Neelakanthan to bring her out of the water. But after numerous failed attempts, she breathed her last at 4 pm on 27 May. She was then taken to the forest in a lorry and cremated in the land she played in and grew up. “She needs to be given the farewell she deserves”, he said, “We bowed before her and paid our last respects”.
The forest officer further revealed some incredibly heartbreaking news. “The doctor who did her post-mortem told me she was not alone. I could sense his sadness, even though the expression on his face was not visible due to his mask.” Amba was due to give birth in the next 18 to 20 months, but like Mohan Krishnan said, “Even as the entire mankind stands helpless before a virus like the coronavirus, I have only one thing to say – sorry.”
Amid the outrage, the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured strict action against the responsible. And an FIR has been lodged against them under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act. But there isn’t much that could come out of it. Here’s what KK Sunil Kumar, a Mannarkkad Division Forest Officer (DFO) had to say, “We are suspecting that the elephant fell prey to the explosive snare used to fend off wild boars. But there is no evidence now to suggest that it was intentionally fed such an explosive.”
This incident garnered a lot of attention, resulting in the locals drawing a lot of flack. Many made their way onto social media to express their shock, concern, and also condemn them for brutal animal abuse. Everyone is enraged and heartbroken.
But unfortunately, Amba wasn’t the first, and she might not be the last.
Humans, on numerous occasions, have boastfully beat their chests and claimed that we’re smarter and better than animals. Yet I only see examples of failing to show compassion, intelligence, or humane behaviour.
Back in July of 2016, the internet got to witness what we then believed was Bhadra’s death.
Two 23-year-old medical students in Chennai decided to record their vile act and post it on social media. Gowtham Sudharshan poses along with the then 5-month-old puppy before launching off the side of the five-storey building while Ashish Paul films it. You can hear the puppy’s cries along with the laughs of these ‘animals’.
All of us believed that she had died at the scene but Shravan Krishnan, an animal welfare activist found her alive. She was immediately taken to the vets and was promptly named Bhadra. The pair had added a slow-motion effect to the video, which immediately went viral for all the wrong reasons. Animal lovers all over the country flooded social media with major criticism. All they wanted was for the sick pair to be arrested, who by then, were on the run!
However, after being arrested, they were charged with offences punishable with a small fine instead of jail time. Could you imagine being granted bail for just Rs 10 or Rs 50? And this may sound like a joke, but due to ‘The Prevention Cruelty Act’ being pretty outdated, the criminals didn’t have to shell out a huge chunk of money. But karma always finds a way, and oh boy she did!
They were then asked to pay an enormous fine of Rs. 2 Lakh each to the Animal Welfare Board of India. The decision was presented by a disciplinary committee constituted by the MGR University in Tamil Nadu.
And what about Bhadra, you ask?
She embarked on a long journey of healing from the scars the sick pair left, but she recovered from both those and her injuries fairly well. Shravan cared for her until her injuries healed completely, and she was then moved into her forever home!
I would like to believe that incidents like these wouldn’t take place as often, and that isn’t the case! Because recently, a few friends of mine had to deal with a terrible situation of their own.
Divya and Fahama reside in the city of dreams, Mumbai and are incredible cat moms to three adorable babies (Juneau, Eli, and Miso). They happened upon a litter of 7 little pups on 25th January 2020 wobbling around their apartment building and would feed and care for them. But they couldn’t check on the puppies as often due to the lockdown being announced on 24 March 2020.
However, when they went to feed them on April 1st, 2020, they were nowhere to be found. Upon asking, they found out that someone had allegedly poisoned the litter, and only one of them survived. They found the little white pup, barely alive, covered in her poop, piss, fleas and more. And she was immediately taken to the vet. Their friends named the little angel ‘Maidu’, which roughly translates to white flour. Divya and Fahama fostered and nursed this baby back to health, but she now goes by ‘Snoopy’ and lives in her forever home with the sweetest family.
Maidu spent 20 days with Divya and Fahama, while their cat babies were being looked after by family to avoid the risk of infection. They also tried finding the person responsible for what happened to Maidu by asking for CCTV footage and other proof. But despite trying everything, they came up with nothing and that wasn’t going to be enough.
Waiting On The World To Change
The world is a cruel place, and with incidents like these, it always feels like we’re taking one step forward and two steps back. Animal cruelty is quite prevalent in the country, more than we’d like to admit, especially with the huge amount of strays that roam the streets.
While I may have discussed these incidents in great details, there are so many more I haven’t even touched upon. In one such instance, we see an alarming amount of stray dogs being killed by meat shop owners in Kalamna, Nagpur in March 2018. Reports suggest it was to prevent them from stealing from their shops. However, others suggest they were allegedly poisoned, due to a resident looking after them!
In April 2020, a month before Amba died a cruel death another female elephant suffered a similar fate in Kollam, Kerala. She was found by forest officers, in the Pathanapuram forest range area alienated from her herd. But despite being given proper treatment, she soon succumbed to her wounds.
In July 2018, a pregnant goat died after allegedly being gang-raped by 8 men in Haryana. And one of the accused even mocked the owner about it. After a thorough post-mortem, they found out that she was 50 weeks pregnant and had blood in her windpipe.
How fucked up does someone have to be to even think of anything remotely close to these cruel incidents? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there are a lot of different aspects that give birth to situations like this, but just because they can’t say no doesn’t mean you go ahead and do whatever you want.
But what can we do about it?
Unfortunately, some have been taking advantage of the fact that these animals can’t talk, but a few of us can act as their voice of reason. Unbeknownst to many of us, India has various animal laws in place to protect and help them.
Here are a few that all of us should know about:
- Just like the Forest Officer in Kerala pointed out, according to Article 51A(g) – “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”
- According to the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 and Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, it is illegal to maim or cause injury to any animal. Purposely injuring any strays on the streets has also been deemed illegal.
- In case anyone is wondering, according to Rule 3 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2001, and Chapter 4, Food Regulations and Standards Regulations, 2011, no animal, chickens included, can be slaughtered in any place, other than a slaughterhouse. However, if an animal is sick or pregnant, they will not be slaughtered.
- Rules 148-C and 135-B of Drugs & Cosmetic Rules, 1945, state that cosmetics tested on animals and the import of cosmetics tested on animals is banned.
- For those of us who love travelling with our pets, if they are uncomfortable, or suffering any pain, there can be unavoidable consequences. According to Section 11(1)(d) Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (Transport of Animal) Rules, 2001 and Motor Vehicles Act 1978, conveying or carrying animals in or upon any vehicle, in any manner or position that causes discomfort is a punishable offence.
- According to ABC Rules, 2001, stray dogs that have been spayed or neutered, cannot be captured or relocated by anybody. This includes authorities too!
I know I haven’t shared every animal law there is, but it sure is handy to know about the laws I listed above. Who knows when you might need them?
But even though various people are outraged and talking about animal cruelty, a few will always have a certain ace up their sleeve.
What About Now?
Every single time there is a conversation about Animal Cruelty, regardless of the support and uproar, the conclusion always ends up being a message of giving up meat. Since the conversation regarding Amba started, I’ve already seen 2-3 people mention meat-eaters and selective outrage. I remember having a conversation regarding this very topic a year ago.
While I understand where each of them come from, no person should have to justify their eating habits and how they correlate to fighting for this cause. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, nothing could and should dwindle your love and respect for another living being!
While there are numerous unreported cases of animal cruelty, we can help by reporting any instance. If we’re the slightest bit suspicious of any wrongdoing, trust your gut and report it to the authorities. Some of which I’ve listed below:
Every time I come across a case of animal cruelty, my heart pains because I feel like we’ve failed them. And while we can’t go back and change things, we can move forward and work towards getting rid of any act of animal cruelty. Help bring justice for Amba by signing this petition, I already have. And I know it isn’t much, but all I can do now is say sorry.
I know I could’ve just posted about Amba’s story on Instagram, and move on. But I needed to talk about it, so I did. If I haven’t mentioned any points, you can let me know in the comments. I hope I’ve respectfully put forward my thoughts regarding this, so if you enjoyed it, then you can find the rest of my work here!