2016: The Year That Was Bad for All Animals, Except the Cow

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

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It’s been a really terrible year for humankind. Ask anybody how 2016 was, and they will tell you it truly sucked. When I typed “2016 was…” into the Google search, it suggested “a bad year”, “worst year ever”, and “a weird year”.

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On a more serious note, this year has seen a tremendous amount of bad news, ranging from numerous terrorist attacks, to the increasing violence against women, and even natural disasters. This year has been marred by events like the rise of Donald Trump, the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, and the ill-implemented demonitisation in India.

But 2016 wasn’t just bad for humans; animals suffered a great deal too. This year saw the killing and eventual Internet stardom of Harambe the gorilla. For the uninitiated, Harambe was a 17-year-old gorilla in the Cincinnati zoo that was killed when he grabbed a young boy who had wandered into the gorilla enclosure.

When I say that Harambe became a star, I’m not joking. He has a Wikipedia page, Facebook pages, countless memes, and an ardent fan following to his credit. But that does not take away from the fact that this is a clear case of ill-treatment against an animal. While it is debatable whether Harambe should have been shot or tranquilised, what is certain is that he was collateral damage. Harambe is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violence against and lack of concern about animals in 2016.

Earlier this year, a dolphin in Argentina died because it was passed around by people who wanted to take selfies with it. This dolphin belonged to a rare species, the size of which is such that it can be easily carried by a human. Not only did the insensitive humans take the dolphin out of the water, but they also left it lying on the sand once they were finished taking pictures. This dolphin was one of the remaining 30,000 of its species, and it died that day because of dehydration. This incessant need to take selfies has also resulted in bison and bears attacking humans and the nesting of turtles being disturbed.

However, one animal is more equal than others.

The Indian cow has fared much better than most other animals this year. People who breed cows stand to gain benefits, as was stated on November 27 in one Indian state. A task force has been instituted for the protection of cows in India. This task force was planned to be similar to the Home Guards, which is a paramilitary force, just by the way. This task force is so vigilant and responsive that when they receive leads from sources about cow smugglers, they quickly relocate in order to catch them red handed. Killing cows is a punishable offence in 22 states, and the punishments range from fines to jail sentences. Protecting cows is not a bad idea, but this animal seems to the only one getting Z-level security.

If you think this sounds preposterous, here’s a little analysis and comparison. In April this year, Shaktimaan, the police horse, died because of injuries he sustained at a political rally. He was 13 years old and had served in the force for 10 years. As a result of multiple blows, one of his hind legs was broken. Despite being given a prosthetic leg, Shaktimaan did not survive after a long month of suffering. On the other hand, cows are so precious in our motherland, that there is also a fine for not taking adequate care of them in some regions. Previously, perpetrators would be charged anything Rs 500 to Rs 2500. After December, anybody who even abandoned a cow would be fined Rs 10,000.

If you think killing a cow will only land you in prison, you are being naïve. You will be dragged out of your vehicle, stripped completely, beaten up, and your face will be blackened. As if this was not enough, a video of this abuse will also be uploaded on social media. Like Harambe, you too will have your own share of Internet fame. But should you throw a stray dog off a building, that’ll be totally cool. Two medical students in Chennai decided to fling a stray puppy off a two-storeyed building and film this sick incident. They did it “for fun”. The puppy was badly injured. The duo walked away with a two-digit fine.

In June this year, Thai officials were shocked to find the frozen bodies of 40 tiger cubs in a freezer of the Tiger Temple. Previously, the Buddhist monks charged $17 to take selfies with tiger cubs to $140 for nursing them. The police also nabbed a monk who had body parts of a tiger in his car. The monks were charged with wildlife trafficking, for which the maximum fine is the equivalent of $1,600 in Thai currency.

A sharp contrast to this situation is the sheer amount of money involved in the security of cows. Protectors charge amounts as exorbitant as Rs 20,000 to ensure that trucks transporting this bovine animal remain safe. In some regions of India, livestock traders have to pay self-proclaimed protectors Rs 200 per cow and Rs 2,000 per truck so that their vehicles can pass through.

If we were to discuss this issue in colloquial terms, I’d say that other animals are being treated like sh*t. But even this choice of words is ironic, because the sh*t of cows is now being heralded as the answer to India’s energy crisis. And of course, cow urine is being called liquid gold.

Cows – 1, the rest of the animal world – 0.

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