Friday, April 10, 2009

Animal Speak

Fighter Bulls, Stray Dogs & Frogs all have something in common. It’s time we think about their plight says Clinton Vaz

Yesterday afternoon, on a drive to a waste management project at Mollem I almost ran over a dog. The creature ran straight into my path, forcing me to brake, swerve and continue. Shaken, upset and angry by what had just happened I felt like stopping to yell at the dog. That probably would not have made a difference, but as I drove on, I began to think. It wasn't the dog's fault really.

Dogs were brought into human society by us. We have created stray animals by abandoning pets that we can't take care of anymore, or letting our animals breed and then abandoning the pups in a fish market or field. These poor animals are simply trying to exist, and they are bound to cause conflict with humans when they are at a disadvantage. It is our responsibility therefore, to look after these animals, as we collectively as a society have failed to look after our pets and have caused the stray animal menace. There are a few NGO's working in this line, and they need your support. Do donate some money, materials or volunteer some time to their cause.

While we agree that we need to respect one another, would everybody agree that the same applies to animals too? It's pitiful to see an animal that's been run over, yelping in pain, but would you stop by and take care of an injured animal? Fortunately I know a few friends that would. Quite often all one needs to do is call an animal-ambulance and stay by the animal comforting it and providing some water. If it were a human in the same condition, we would see a crowd gather and people rushing to provide assistance. Animals may look different from us, but they too deserve the same treatment and the right to live. They too are living beings.

Of late, we’ve had a spurt in animals in ‘sport’. Bullfighting is outlawed in most places in the world because of the cruelty to animals in the sport. The animals may be pampered at the stables, but they lead a lonely existence, often chained to a post in isolation for the entire day. When it’s time for a fight, the amounts of money bet on each side run into lakhs of rupees. With so much at stake, the bulls are goaded by their keepers to charge at the opponent. This induced fight often results in both the animals being gored and injured badly, and while I’ve seen distressing scenes of bleeding animals fleeing the fighting area, death due to bullfighting injuries have occurred both to the bulls, as well as spectators. Any politician that support’s such acts of barbaric cruelty in the name of traditional culture is foolish and bound not to get any vote from me or anybody that thinks likewise.

We should never take animals for granted. Followed by the sweltering heat, comes the monsoons, and to herald the monsoons come the frogs. For the frog, it's finally the season to wake up to after months of hibernation, to sing, eat and breed. But instead, their croaks invite trouble. Goan's have traditionally hunted frogs for a delicacy known as 'frog legs'. While the hunting and killing of frogs might have been sustainable before, today, it's merciless. Frogs are no longer caught just for the hunter’s family. They are now delicacies for rogue restaurants. Restaurants pay hunters to catch hundreds of frogs at a time, decimating the populations of frogs all over Goa. For the frog it's a horrible way to die. Yanked out of the field after being blinded by a torch, the frog is then stuffed into a gunny bag that's packed-full of unfortunate frogs. At the restaurant, the frog is held by its waist and its legs are chopped off, and skinned. The frog, still alive is thrown into the bin, allowing it to die slowly out of blood loss. It's hard to imagine that humans are capable of such cruel acts to animals. All this, to a species that's protected by law. However we’ve managed to right a few wrongs. In the past few years, the campaign to save frogs has been picking up steadily, and least year, besides the media focusing on the issue, the forest department actually arrested 10 people that were caught hunting. This Thursday, 16th April, we will informally meet for an hour at the lawns of Kala Academy in Panaji at 5.30pm to chalk out the course for the 2009 Save the Frog campaign. Everybody that’s interested in the cause is welcome. See you there!

Clinton Vaz, 28 lives in Benaulim and works on environment and wildlife issues in Goa. He can be contacted at or +91 9890936828 This article appeared in the Goan Local Daily Gomantak Times on Friday, 10th April 2009 Pg. 12

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