‘A Country is Judged By The Way Its Animals
And one of India’s compassionate daughters lived by this rule. Maneka Gandhi fought fiercely, legislated and pushed it to Parliament and set all animals in India free. This wonderful human is remembered with love and honour for what she did that Lord Buddha himself preached the world.
As now its the season of Poson, there is no point in trekking to the temple, clad in white to listen to ‘bana’ Sathwa Himsa was the focal point in Buddha’s preaching. Be like Tissa who laid down his bow and arrow and spared the life of the deer he was chasing when he heard the words of wisdom. Be like Maneka Gandhi who risked her life and lost her political career, but she is a happy woman today and India is proud of her.
Turn around take a look at our nation famous around the world for her cruelty and abuse to the dumb population no matter whether it is a little hopping frog or the mighty Lord of the jungle, the innocent elephant, gunned down unmercifully with her calf just for the sake of a little farming plot, snatched, encroached from their habitat, denying food, water and movement.
Mr President: all encroachers/farmers must be removed and found alternate land. Even if they amount to lakhs and lakhs, it can be done with Sri Lanka having lush verdant land strewn around the county, rich as they come with fertile soil and better living conditions, access to better schools for their children and enjoy the beauty of their motherland.
I know it is a gigantic task but knowing and admiring your dedicated leadership nothing is impossible for you. It needs an equally dedicated team, and they are available in our country doing their bit at the moment. They will be only happy to rally around you knowing to what extent of suffering animals undergo. We have seen in the media how elephants are poisoned to death in clusters when pregnant, leopards beheaded, a sea-gull skinned alive for pleasure, dogs held in captivity, set on fire and burnt alive (Charlie) a pregnant bitch sexually abused and later clubbed to death in a school in Gampaha area on March 11, 2018 but protected by the Principal when there were eyewitnesses within the school among teachers. Animal Welfare Activists protested but the story ended there. This particular labourer has killed pups and dogs and buried them on several occasions. There are hundreds like this that go unheard, not seen and end in agonizing deaths.
Not that all these cruel atrocities went unchecked. There was the AWB (Animal Welfare Bill) which sought to address this issue but legal shortcomings over a decade due to pressure from politicians whose vested interest prevented it making it legal. The wanton killings of pets like that of human rights activist, Brito Fernando’s dog, Max by a retired Superintendent Police, Clement Fernando is a clear example that even a pet dog is not spared.
Yet another glaring example are the pet shops where animals and birds are cramped in without food and water for days by small-time business people. Some of them die in fatigue.
That is why it is important that AWB should be passed with immediate effect and provide legal framework for protecting not even pets but all animals.
Forget the idea that safaris are the main attraction to tourists and these silly-looking jumbo rides at the mercy of mahouts. They can enjoy our golden beaches, the rich bio-diversity, lush verdant burgeon. If the elephant is the main attraction, it can be viewed at the zoo with one or two in an open space of five to 10 acres, unchained.
If our neighbour, India did this so successfully, there is no reason why we cannot. We have several in the likes of Maneka Gandhi only too willing to dedicate themselves to protect, preserve wilderness and maintain ecological integrity. All animals need protection. Our nation’s foresight collectively must bear the responsibility; not the State alone.
Relocation and Evacuation
1. To be done in stages to alternate sites especially suitable for small-time farmers
2. All routes, pathways, roads, tracks, walks etc. into their habitats to be permanently closed.
3. Waterways, rivers, streams to remain as they are, access for drinking water.
4. No animal in captivity, especially elephants to be freed except one or two in the Buddhist chapters for perahera.
5. To refrain from using them in perahera as no country around the world parades them.
6. No sale of elephants or as gifts to any country.
When these and (any others) are implemented, our country’s environment, its flora and fauna will return to how it was just three decades ago when the only elephant I saw was the one at the zoo.
It takes the strength and courage of a bold leader to do what is right. The nation knows you are the one.
Yes, you can do it.