It’s not the first time we are witnessing such gross animal rights violation and lack of concern for animal welfare as one of the many unpleasant consequences of war.
According to a National Geographic report, the Yemeni government has done nothing to save the 265 animals including 28 rare species of leopards endangered in the wild, suffering in captivity in Yemen’s Taiz zoo awaiting their deaths; humans suffer too but there is always the option of fleeing from their homes to safer places.
But what about these captive animals that are left to starve and die in abandoned zoos? Does anyone care for these animals that are a source of pleasure and fun for humans during peace time?
Well, so far the answer seems to be ‘No.’ The ones who do care are far and few between and do not have the resources or means to be of any help to these beleaguered beasts, and even if they do, there are bureaucratic hindrances and hurdles and redtape that make it difficult for them to do enough.
However, despite these insurmountable odds, there are some organizations and individuals who are making efforts towards the rehabilitation of the abandoned animals.
The National Geographic report says:
“According to Jonkergouw, before SOS intervened in February, 11 lions and six Arabian leopards had starved to death. ‘One leopard had eaten its female companion,’ she says. The surviving animals were found living in squalor on bare concrete, bloodied, with festering abscesses, feces everywhere. One drastically malnourished lion was found with his hip bone jutting through his skin. Emergency surgery saved his life, barely.”
It’s a matter of grave concern for animal lovers and those who care about the plight of animals suffering due to neglect, injuries and starvation and finally death in abandoned zoos in war zones. It is estimated that more animals die in wars than humans.
Yemen is not the first such example of animal suffering as a result of war. It has happened before in Afghanistan during the 1990s war when an estimated seventy-five thousand animals, if not more, became victims of land mines.
There are millions of land mines left over undetected not only from the World War II era but from other wars all over the globe and are responsible for killing and maiming humans and animals alike.
It is not just animals dying from leftover mines accidentally, but there are incidences of animals like sheep and dogs being intentionally sent into minefields by humans to detect mines resulting in the animals being blown to smithereens.
January 2009 witnessed the massacre of animals in the Gaza zoo when Israeli soldiers mercilessly shot the zoo animals for no apparent reason whatsoever.
During the Iraq war, it became a normal practice by rebels to use animals like dogs, strapped with explosives, to blow up convoys. Donkey-drawn carts have been used for similar purposes in Iraq.
One would argue that alleviation of human suffering during wars is given priority over animals because human lives are more important – agreed, but animals are victims of wars that are human-created and they continue to suffer even after the conflicts have ended.
What we have covered so far is just a small percentage of examples of animals suffering due to wars. There are hundreds of cases where animals, in captivity as well as in the wild, have become victims of wars the world over.
The point is what can be done to minimize, if not eliminate, this senseless killing of animals, advertently or inadvertently?
The simple answer to the question is, international laws should be put in place to ensure the transfer of animals in captivity to safer areas when there are indications of impending war thereby reducing the impact of war on animals.
The answer may be simple but is the implementation as simple? I would think not.