Humankind is deemed to be God’s supreme creation, purportedly at least, with all the versatile faculties at its disposal. Our intelligence, our powers of understanding and analytical thinking have lifted us above other creatures, to a level of superiority that is by now virtually unsurpassable. However, with power comes responsibility, and with intelligence comes empathy and kindness, all of which are necessary to keep the balance of life on earth at a sustainable level. We, as the species appointed for the care, nurture and protection of the lesser creations of God, be it the flora or the fauna, need to exercise our power and intelligence in such a way as to make co-habitation of man and animal harmonious on our planet. Many civilizations have realized the importance of this tenet, and have successfully developed and infused in their peoples a culture of kindness towards animals, so much so that animals in many developed nations are treated almost at par with humans. Today, the level of human development in a country can be aptly gauged by the amount of respect and kindness that its animals are treated with.
Yet, the fact remains that the world is a conglomeration of variegated races – some in a mature state of civilization, and others which are still on the road to that destination, and it is in the areas inhabited by the latter species of humankind that the other creatures of this earth are always at peril; peril of indiscriminate slaughter for monetary profit; peril of being expunged from existence. Sadly, with precious animals falling to poachers in brutal fashion every other day, India today is finding it increasingly hard to convince the world that its economic development has not outpaced its human development index. There is hardly a day that passes by without some news of an animal being killed by poachers in some part of the country. A Rhino killed every other day in the most brutal manner possible in Assam; a tiger killed in some reserve in Maharashtra, an elephant cruelly killed and shorn of its tusks; migratory birds gunned down in large numbers as they descend unsuspectingly upon mud flats and green fields; and many more such instances of cruelty to animals. The heart cries out for the animals in empathy for the pain they must have felt in their cruel deaths, and in the angst at the continual depletion of precious species that adorn our forests. Frustratingly, for all right-thinking citizens and animal-lovers of our great nation, the belligerence of the poachers and the level of cruelty of the killings show no signs of abatement, and, most exasperating of all, the authorities seem much less perturbed by the rising menace than would have been expected of them. Knowing that the grey market for Rhino horns, elephant tusks and tiger skins is a billion dollar business, the lack of sufficient action on the part of the powers-that-be reeks of a greater reach of the poaching conglomerate than meets the eye.
With the state of affairs as they are today, it seems highly unlikely that the environment for animals in India and other countries of the kind will improve sufficiently to ensure their safety and security even in their rightful havens, the forests. At a time when money power rules the roost in society, and even the value of human life is being relegated to insignificance, it will be harder by the day to keep organized and determined poachers off the limits of the forests and reserves. International organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and national societies for the cause of animals such as PETA do not have the teeth to fight this menace, and words of protest alone are hardly the wind that can ruffle the feathers of the killer forces. The fauna of the world are not the exclusive property of the countries that human borders enclose. Animals belong to the world at large, and as such the responsibility for preservation of any species of fauna should be shared by all the countries on earth. It would be a great pity to allow such beautiful creations of God to vanish from this world for ever just because one particular country was unable to prevent a few elements of the nether world from destroying the species. Perhaps, the need of the hour is to create a responsible international organization, with powers and jurisdictions similar to the United Nations, to ensure that animal rights around the world are protected, and that no animal, irrespective of the part of the world it belongs to, will ever face the threat of extinction due to humans overcome by greed.
We, as citizens of the world, and as cohabitants of this great planet, need to pause and think at times – do we really care what goes on in the wilds far from our homes? Does it matter to us whether a rhino, an elephant, a tiger, or for that matter any animal species lives or dies? We should really take time out and think about this.