Cruelty to animals happens around us and we often don’t even bat an eyelid. Man can be unimaginably cruel. We treat animals as next to non-living. This is shocking. Cruelty by humans towards our fellow passengers on this great ark called the Earth is deplorable.
Cruelty to animals right in our backyard
An incident of cruelty to animals came to light in Udupitwo days back.
A student of my wife, Katyayani, who teaches class 6 at Adiudupi Higher Primary School revealed a shocking fact. As the class discussion centred on animals, this girl mustered courage and revealed, “Madam, two snakes have got trapped in a net near our home from the last 5 days. Please rescue them madam”
“Madam, two snakes have got trapped in a net near our home from the last 5 days. Please rescue them madam”
This shook the conscience of the remaining students and they begged the teacher to do something to help the snakes. Katyayani called the student’s mom to get a few details of the situation described by the kid.
A phone call later, it came to light that the snakes have got entangled in a nylon net put up by the owner of the home where the student’s family was living on rent. They had seen the snakes getting trapped but had explicitly instructed everybody around to not rescue animals that get trapped in the net.
The student’s mother even pointed out that when they tried to rescue animals in the past, they had to face the brunt of the owner.
Springing into Action
The students after getting to know about this cruelty to animals and the indifference displayed by the owner turned aghast. They insisted that they must definitely do something to change the situation. Clueless, they yet again implored their teacher to do something to help the snakes trapped in the net.
A thought struck Katyayani. She gave a call to a local herpetologist, Mr Gururaj Sanil. Mr Sanil is well known in the Udupi district for his efforts over the last 2 decades towards instilling awareness among locals regarding cruelty to animals, especially snakes and dispelling myths surrounding them. He has rescued more than 25,000 snakes to date and charges nothing for his help.
On explaining the situation to Mr Sanil, he explained that the snakes might still be alive and it is worth an attempt to rescue them. He also requested that the local forest officials be alerted as their presence will deter the owner of the nets from stopping the rescue act.
A few calls later, a rescue team comprising of two forest officials, Mr Gururaj Sanil, Katyayani teacher and the girl arrived at the rescue spot near the girl’s home.
They soon discovered that one of the snakes was a large male that had got its head enmeshed in the net. With every attempt to free itself, it had got more deeply entangled. Its subsequent struggles over the last t five days had drained it out of all energy.
The other was a female who was even deeply enmeshed and had multiple wounds on the body due to her struggles. Mr Sanil opined that she had suffered a lot of injury in the process of attempting to free herself.
Rescuing the snakes
The rescue began right away and the male snake was freed first. He was too tired to even put up a struggle. At one point he just twists and turns his body and ejects faeces out of fear.
Mr Sanil patiently cut away at the nylon net one thread at a time taking care not to let the scissors touch the snake’s body. Within 5 minutes, the male snake was completely free and was placed in a bag to be transported and let into the wild elsewhere.
The next to be rescued was the female snake. She was in a pathetic condition due to her struggles. Mr Sanil announced that he would keep her for a few days, give her the needed treatment before releasing the snake into the wild.
All throughout, there was no interruption from the owner. Seeing the forest officials, they had decided to stay indoors lest they be pulled up for the cruelty to animals displayed by them.
The cruel nature of Man
Once the entire rescue act was done, Mr Sanil went up to the owners home to educate them about snakes and the need to avoid cruelty towards them.
The lady of the house did not buy his advice. She countered saying, “They only frighten children and act as vermin. What is the use of rescuing them?” Despite trying to reason with her and inject some compassion into her, she remained unmoved and was even trying the justify her actions.
This speaks volumes about the attitude of people when it comes to animals. Man is just not ready to share his space with animals. He not only encroaches upon what has traditionally been their space. He then traps, maims and even kills animals who end up accidentally venturing into what he calls his space. This is extremely heartless.
“To me, cruelty is the worst of human sins. Once we accept that a living creature has feelings and suffers pain, then by knowingly and deliberately inflicting suffering on that creature, we are guilty, whether it be human or animal.”Jane Goodall, the lady who spent a lifetime with chimpanzees
Learnings from the incident
However, the incident did bring two things to the fore.
- There are cruel people and there are kind, concerned and action-oriented people. – One one side we have people who are self-centered. They will not think twice about inflicting cruelty on another living creature. They will look the other way when an animal is in distress. On the other side we have people like the students, Mr Gururaj Sanil, the forest officials and Katyayani – people who make us look within ourselves and change for the better.
- Where there is a will, there is a way – Each one of us can make a difference to the animals around us – The determination of the student, the teacher, the herpetologist and the forest officials to change the way things were and come to the rescue of the snakes made all the difference at the end of the day.
A lesson for all humanity. Cruelty to animals need to not be the norm, we can change and we all must. Let us inculcate this respect towards animals especially among the next generation.