Of animal rights and humans, some good and some disturbing news
We, in the Western world often think of those faraway countries as backward, kind of lagging behind in many aspects. We know better, our laws are better, and the list could be endless. When one investigates a little, we find this is not entirely the case, In my investigation, which was triggered by very worrying news, I came up with some surprising facts. Some countries can be far more advanced in certain aspects. So one should not always judge without having a closer look.
Animal rights in India
An Indian court has ruled that all animals should enjoy the same rights as human beings. This happened about a year ago, in 2018. The court stated that animals have distinct personas with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. I was happily surprised when I read this. This is the landmark ruling by the Uttarakhand High Court according the status of “legal person or entity” to animals in the northern state. This status was given to the entire animal kingdom.
One should really let this court ruling sink in and digest it. I had not heard of this before and find it absolutely beautiful. This would function as a deterrent to poachers, awful companies which pollute the environment, and to those people who abuse pets or wildlife. We all form part of creation and have a right to live here. If we live in harmony with nature and its inhabitants, our world would look a lot nicer.
The entire animal kingdom, of course, including avian and aquatic animals, are now declared to be legal entities. The sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers will be more protected in a fight against toxic waste being dumped into them. Nature as a whole, humans included, would greatly benefit from these new laws. I acquired some interesting data from this article.
The worlds 17 “megadiverse” countries
These are the 17 countries which host the majority of Earths plant and animal species.
Australia Brazil Ecuador
Columbia China Madagascar
India Indonesia Papua New Guinea
Malaysia Philippines South Africa
Peru Venezuela United States
Democratic Republic of Congo
Under Indian Law, one has to distinguish two types of legal “persons”
There are the sentient human beings and “juristic persons” such as minors, companies, trusts, wards of courts, or people with mental incapacities. Now, in this second group, animals have been included.
Special thought is given to those animals which help us in agriculture. With temperatures above 37C and below 5C, it is not allowed to keep animals in harness with the purpose of drawing vehicles. Another mention was made in regard to using spikes or sharp objects on farm animals.
Spain has changed a lot
I have been an animal lover all my life. My Mother told me that when I still was very small, while living in Australia where I was born, I would grab any cat I could get my tiny hands on. They never hurt me and sometimes would even lick my nearly hairless baby head.
Then in Holland, our cat had babies in my dolls pram. One of the babies, Bongo, a black kitten, lived with us for nearly 20 years. Later on, after starting my Spanish farm in the south, I always had animals, cats, and dogs.
In 1877, Spain passed its first provision on animal cruelty, which prohibited the mistreatment of dogs. In 1928, the Criminal Code was adopted to incriminate the abuse or mistreatment of animals in general. Nowadays there might be from 3 months to one-year prison sentences if caught mistreating and or causing the death of a pet.
One can also observe a shift in public opinion on the famous bullfights. In some places, it is forbidden and I think in the near future it might be forbidden in the total country. Bullfighting can be traced back to 711 AD.
Laws are getting stricter on animal cruelty
One special case got a lot of attention some years ago. A 3 years and nine-month prison sentence was handed to the head of an animal shelter here on the Costa del Sol. Hundreds of dogs and cats had been killed in an awful way.
In December 2017, the Spanish Congress agreed to launch a legal reform that would redefine animals as sentient beings. That was a big step forward as up till that time animals were inanimate objects.
Spain is a lovely country with abundant wildlife. It has the highest number of Unesco designated Biosphere Reserves in the world. There are many projects in place for the protection and conservation of endangered species, like the brown bear, and the Iberian Lynx. Thanks to special breeding programs the number of Iberian lynx are increasing.
Spain has a group of lovely islands off the west coast of Africa, the Canary Islands. This area is one of the most important marine areas in the world. Here you will have the chance to see dolphins, sperm whales, and pilot whales. But there are more regions in Spain where you can see these animals, like in Asturias, Galicia, Basque Country, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea.
One should not forget the Spanish Imperial eagle, Spanish red deer, and wild boars. Then Spain is a paradise for bird watchers as in winter, migratory birds head from Europe to Africa, stopping in Spain for a rest. They often stop in the world-famous wetlands of the Donana National Park. All these animals and birds can be seen in the Donana National Park and in many other National Parks across the country.
Spain has come a long way since that first law in 1928, as people see that taking care of the environment, with all of its inhabitants, will benefit all of us.
Now I come to the sad part of my post. After having seen that 2 countries like India and Spain have understood that preservation of the environment and its inhabitants is important for humans, how is it possible that another country wants to make a complete U-turn from a similar path?
The Trump administration announced its plan to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act
In 1973, The Endangered Species Act was created under President Nixon. Its aim was to conserve wildlife, which was and still is at risk of extinction because of inconsiderate human activity. Let’s face it, it is men which, in most cases, cause species to disappear. I recently wrote a post on the Florida panther and you might like to read it.
The adoption of the Endangered Species Act has been of utmost importance and is said to have prevented the eradication of 99 % of the 1,650 species it has guarded.
This video will explain what this decision means.
What about American animal laws?
The first known animal welfare laws are from old times. In 1641 the Tyranny or Cruelties toward domestic animals was included in the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. Then in the late 1820s, a number of states passed anti-cruelty statues. Now animal welfare relates to the treatment of animals in the field of agriculture, hunting, medical testing and having pets in your own home.
It is separated from animal conservation. Obviously, domestic animals or those living in the wild, all form part of creation and are equally important and have the same right to live a life in their rightful habitat.
The laws in Europe
The European Union recognizes animals as sentient beings. This was put as an Article in the Treaty of Lisbon in the year 2009. Generally, people have come to realize that animals have feelings. Still, so many laws need more than fine-tuning to reduce animal suffering. Hopefully one day there will be no more animals suffering at man’s hand, but that probably will be the day when we have become so enlightened that we do not make any more wars either, and protect our planet instead of destroying it.
Coming back to America, still, a lot needs to be done but happily these last years a positive trend can be seen.
That is why this recent announcement of Mr. Trump is like a bucket of cold water. All that has been achieved over the years now could be erased with a single stroke of a pen. Since he became the elected President, his administration has not made it a secret that they are buddies of Big Oil and Gas, Timber and Big Agrobusiness.
They want to take the power away from the ESA so they can do what they want. At what price will this come?
That is devastating news for threatened and endangered species, like the Florida Key deer and Canada Lynx. By making it more difficult to list species, and easier to remove them from the list, the Extinction Plan opens more land for fossil fuel drilling and mining. That means more dirty coal, more dangerous fracking, and more destructive oil drilling. But what can one expect from a man who does not believe that Global Warming = Climate Change?
Four out of five American support the Endangered Species Act. If Mr. Trump gets away with his idea, that would mean the end of America as you have known it. No more Grizzly Bears or any bear, no more wolves and the list goes on. This will cause such an enormous dis-balance, that soon you may be living in a desert.
In the past, the dangerous dis-balance was shown too well when the Grey Wolves were hunted to extinction. Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone and only after studying the effects on the park, it was documented that the reintroduction of the wolves to Yellowstone park had a dramatic effect. Without the wolf, elk and deer were unafraid to wander the streams in the open. They would nibble on the reeds and willows, killing them. This, in turn, caused a drop in the water table, which contributed to a decline in beaver and fish populations, and ultimately the whole system collapsed. Everything is related and when men interfere, the consequences can be horrible.
When other countries advance or, I would call it, become enlightened, understanding that the total of creation was meant to exist on our earth, it saddens me to see that America is turning away from this process by going in the opposite direction.
The following video is the best I have seen, no words are needed to show human stupidity.
Source: The Telegraph, 5 July 2018, story by Saptarshi Ray, New Delhi,
Wikipedia, Daily Kos, Sierra Club
Photo Source: Pixabay
More incomprehensible decisions were made in the past. You might like to read the following post.