Save our wild animals including elephants from wanton destruction of habitats



The growth of human population and ever increasing wanton destruction of animal habitats are a contributory factor to escalating human-elephant conflicts.


There is a growing understanding in society of the importance of respecting and protecting our animals, as an indicator of moral standards. 


Animal protection has become an important ethical and political issue commanding global interest. 


Despite this reality, we have not yet secured even the basic foundations for humane treatment of animals, and we in Sri Lanka deal with such issues using outdated and inadequate laws.


Our Minister for Wildlife recently distributed shotguns to Civil Security personnel to protect farmers and their crops from elephants. The questionable factor is how the elephants will differentiate between the people who are bearing arms from the majority of us who don’t. This can be detrimental if the elephant turns on an official with a shot gun with bird shot and the official manages to escape from the elephant, then the harmonious coexistence is interfered with because the next time the elephant sees a man he will attack..! The elephant is then not at fault because he is behaving naturally for his own survival thus once again escalating the human-animal conflict.


The recent wanton destruction of Oruhalyaya[1]  forest in Thambuththegama which is rightfully elephant habitat also came under scrutiny.


There was an outcry from all quarters including the Buddhist clergy, but to no avail as the Minister of Wildlife supported this programme.


These actions violate every rule of ethical treatment of animals. Our wild animals including elephants have an equal right to live among us. We must have a more sustainable solution for the harmonious coexistence of animals and humans.


Are we making such decisions because they are voiceless?


We must not promote these kind of atrocities and instead must make space for our giants, our elephants! We are constantly at war with our elephants.


Randi Foundation believes that compromising the needs of wild animals and solely backing the needs of the people is a very self serving act to canvas the future vote of the people. Compromising wild animals means to victimize the voiceless, vulnerable section of our community, the natural wealth of our country.


It is immoral and unethical to put down these animals. These plans are at cross purposes because when the wild animals retaliate and the community gets harmed and suffers losses, it is because the animals are justifiably behaving naturally to protect their own habitat.


Then the people will further victimize wild animals by firing at them or using hakkapatas or firecrackers to drive them away.


In other words the system supports the perpetrator which is us and further victimizes the victim, which in this case is our wild animals, the Elephant in particular. 


Let’s all adopt an ethic of ‘Working Together and Caring Together’, which equates to a simple formula, to engage in caring and showing kindness to our wild animals .


Each and everyone of us have a moral and ethical social responsibility to raise our voice to save animal habitat, which is their classroom, which enables them to learn the skills of coexisting alongside us.


Randi Foundation urges the government to promote coexistence between wild animals and people without using excessive force and unsustainable development.


 Create a culture where public meetings are held before any decisions are made, in order for officials to acquaint themselves with public opinions and local knowledge before every stage of any developmental activity and decision making. 


Making use of local knowledge, help of local communities must be sought to strip down layers of detrimental attitudes and cultural barriers towards human-animal coexistence and create an environment where the communities look out for wild animals through inculcating a sense of stakeholdership. Thus building a social bridge between us and the wild animals and championing coexistence.


By being considerate in preserving their habitat we will create less resentment towards animals, change public attitudes and encourage the people to live amongst the wild animals.


Bee hive fencing to deter elephants from coming into villages, should be seriously considered as a cottage industry as it provides the communities around their habitat with a steady income.


This will in turn encourage communities to nurture a sense of belonging that will change attitudes and create an environment of inclusiveness for our Elephants and wild animals. This kind of initiative will automatically social engineer us towards the responsibility for caring for our Elephants. 


Randi Foundation Neighbourhood Watch is one such initiative that the writer introduced in the VetExpo Exhibition in April 2019. It is a simple idea that can be exercised anywhere, where human-animal conflict is prevalent. It involves engaging all citizens in caring and showing kindness to animals by simply looking around and listening out for cries of cruelty and abuse directed towards animals and then reporting to the relevant authorities, for example Police, Livestock Department, Wildlife Department, about possible acts of cruelty, so that they can be prevented.


 “Your Vigilance Saves Lives ..!”


We together with our government can consciously move towards sustainable development while accommodating all types of animals that live alongside us.


We can also raise their status to refer to them as ‘Human Companions’ as most wild animals share the same habitat with humans and thus generously extending them our mutual respect.


The wanton destruction of their habitat must not be tolerated. We must make space for these giants before they become extinct.


Such actions create man made human-animal conflicts that has long term detrimental effects on communities, animals and their habitats. There are no winners in unsustainable development and only inflicts misery and losses to all concerned.


We need to raise our voice and demand inclusiveness then only will we overcome these issues. We should not forcibly drive animals from their habitats. Then the animals feels threatened by us and behave naturally by attacking the perpetrators, who are humans.


Then society and government once again support the perpetrators by blaming the animal. Once again our animals are victimized by our unsustainable development.


Let’s make 2020 the year in which Animals Rights and our animals are protected. Let’s all be a nation of great animal activists and protect our animals and their habitats before they are gone forever. Let’s work together and care together and save our animals for our next generation.


Let’s create a community that favours moral and ethical treatment of animals that personify Mahatma Gandhi’s immortal words;


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


Life is as precious to us as it is for animals. Let us be kind to animals..!


Chrishanti Perera


Founder Member 


Randi Foundation


A Strong Voice for Animal Welfare


 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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