Animals Have a Soul

By Asma Farooq | March 2020

Every day we see homeless stray animals running around on streets, amidst traffic, trying to save them from being run over by vehicles. Some animals are even wounded or pregnant, with no home, food or protection. This is the regular life of any stray animal in Pakistan. And it's common to witness all these things when you live in a country which is, in short, no home to animals. From the stray animals you see on the streets and the monkey cubs abducted to perform tricks to the wild ones imprisoned in zoos, it is a long sad story.

As if the life of street dogs isn't painful enough, city officials decide to make it even worse by poisoning them. Why be civil, educated and kind by neutering them to control the growing population of dogs when you can do the easier thing by being cruel and cause unnecessary and inhumane killing of animals without any thought?

Even Islam has forbidden cruelty to animals, let alone killing them unnecessarily but the country is blind to this particular teaching in our religion.

In 2016, 700 stray dogs in Karachi were poisoned as this is very common in Pakistan. All of a sudden you might experience fewer and fewer dogs around the city and even in your area.

Every municipal district in Pakistan carries this disgraceful task of procuring poison tablets. They mix it with meat and put it around garbage dumps where most stray animal forage for food. Other stray animals such as cats might also come in contact with this poisoned food and die, but consideration and humanity are far away from people who operate this system.

This is the government's and city official’s illiterate and lazy solution to dog bites and rabies. The proper solution is vaccination of the stray dogs to prevent rabies and neutering them to control the population. Poisoning all dogs, even those who might not even cause rabies, is illiteracy and ignorance.

Why do dogs bite in the first place? It's their defense mechanism to live in commercial cities because naturally animals were not adapted to live amidst vehicles, on roads, and in pollution. To add to this, cruel and intellectually deficient humans who physically harm them make them even more defensive and aggressive.

Stray dogs and cats are unaware of the idea of love and petting and it's in their defense mechanism to consider all humans as dangerous so they naturally attack to protect themselves if humans bother them.
Although, there are some initiatives for helping animals like ACF Animal Rescue or Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation which was specifically formed for rescuing stray dogs and cats in Pakistan, including other animals, subjected to abuse by humans, such as donkeys and mules, which are the most abused ones, even more than dogs.

According to a report, ACF frequently takes in injured animals with bullet wounds mostly caused by aerial firing. Once they even rescued a dog which had six bullet wounds but miraculously the dog survived because the bullets did not penetrate any of his organs. ACF claims that they have an ambulance which patrols the city from 10 am to 6 pm and rescues injured or stray animals which are then brought to the shelter for treatment.

The organization gets absolutely no help from the government and has very limited resources to help the animals.

Wild ones should be left in the wild

Not only are stray animals at the receiving end of abuse in Pakistan, those living far away in the wild, away from the streets, are no less unfortunate. Because what's just as inhumane as killing an animal? It's imprisoning an animal for the rest of their life.

Animals used for the entertainment industry are in misery all the same. Zoos are not quite up to the mark of their ideal definition of saving 'endangered species and educating the public about different species of animals'. In reality, the cost outweighs the benefit and animals are violated for the public's amusement.

Regular zoos located in cities are often accused of keeping animals in inadequate spaces such as pens or cages. At times, barren land, metal bars or wired enclosures are all a tiger or a bear may see for the rest of their lives. Zoos do more damage than good. They are mainly a form of business where they make money off buying, selling and breeding animals.

The animals in zoos are devoid of their natural habitat, the wild ones are deprived of their instinct of hunting and preying on other animals and therefore, they lose that instinct. Animals can also develop depression and psychological disorders when they are captivated. Like anxiety, stress, and depression.

A lot of species like the Asian white-backed vulture, Baluchistan black bear, cheetah, golden mahaseer, markhor, snow leopard, green sea turtle, long-billed vulture, Indian vulture, mountain weasel, and Marco Polo sheet are at the brink of extinction in Pakistan.

In early 2018, a snow leopard, which is a highly endangered species in Pakistan, died at Peshawar zoo. The snow leopard was discovered by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and was kept by Hamza Sharif. WWF convinced him to send the leopard to the zoo. Eventually, it was sent to the Peshawar zoo where it was kept in a birdcage readied for the leopard in a hurry.

Snow leopards are classified as the most endangered species by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The zoo environment and weather in Pakistan are not suitable for the snow leopard, as snow leopards cannot survive above the temperature of 15 degrees Celsius.

The illegal wildlife trade is not only a massive threat to the lives of animals but also destabilizes the ecosystem. It further endangers the already endangered animals. Illegal wildlife trade is one of the largest global illegal activities after human trafficking and drugs, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Pakistan is involved in the trade of reptiles, mammals, birds and timber along with some medicinal plants. Great exploitation of these flora and fauna occurs because of a full-grown network of wildlife dealers and poachers.

Eight freshwater turtle species have Pakistan as their home and all of these species are in danger of being illegally traded. The Indian Pangolin, one of the four species of Pangolins found in Asia, is also a seriously endangered species, regardless of which, its illegal trade continues. Pangolins have now become one of the most trafficked mammals globally, according to WWF.

Karachi has the highest number of markets and shops dealing in illegal wildlife trade, shortly followed by Peshawar. Consumption of the dried meat of cobra and the sand lizard is found to be prevalent in Punjab and KP.

Illegal hunting of the hog deer has increased rapidly over the past year mainly due to lack of security. Migratory birds in Muzaffargarh District are also hunted illegally by poachers. The Markhor has been now left with a population of less than 10,000 worldwide. The main reason that Markhor is endangered is because of illegal hunting.

Abuse of animals comes in all shapes and sizes in Pakistan. From explicit ones like poisoning of dogs, starving animals in zoos, stealing infant monkeys and bear cubs and forcing them to perform tricks in the streets for money, to subtle and silent ones like abandoning your pet. It becomes everything to do with morality at the end.

Is it really that Pakistan is a poor country with fewer resources to help anyone or is it just lack of morality and consideration of the fact that animals have souls too? It's not always about a huge initiative of opening a world-class organization for animal welfare, you can even start with something as small and simple as being kind to animals because they can feel just as much as any living person, or maybe even more.

Asma Farooq is a Creative Associate at Careem and a student of Media Studies at IoBM, with major in journalism. She has expertise in all creative niche from design, illustration, photography and video editing.

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