Coexisting in Harmony

Coexisting in Harmony

Building a World Where Humans and Animals Thrive Together

In the heart of bustling cities, where skyscrapers kiss the sky and the streets hum with the relentless pace of human life, an often-overlooked drama unfolds daily. It’s the plight of urban wildlife, particularly undomesticated animals like dogs, who navigate the perils of an environment made for humans, not them. The challenge of coexistence in urban settings isn’t just a matter of animal welfare; it's a reflection of our values and vision for the world we want to inhabit.

Recently, a distressing incident from India reported by the Times of India brought this issue into sharp focus. A man was booked for a cruel act against 20 undomisticated dogs whom he murdered by shooting them, a reminder of the stark lines drawn between human domains and those of urban animals. This isn't an isolated event; it's a symptom of a broader disconnect in our urban ecosystems, where the needs and well-being of animals are often sidelined or ignored.

But why should we care? Why should the fate of undomesticated, horses, cows, cats and birds concern us amid our busy lives?

Hazu: Last seen 29th November 2017, Jharkhand, India. Taken away for neutering by local authorities did not return to his locality. Here seen after enjoying some yogurt.

The Mirror of Society

The way we treat animals, especially those that share our urban spaces, is a mirror reflecting our society's empathy, compassion, and respect for life. These animals, like stray dogs, are not just passive inhabitants of our cities; they are active participants in the urban tapestry, contributing to the biodiversity and balance of our ecosystems.

Understanding Stray Dogs: Companions, Not Intruders

Undomisticated dogs, often perceived as nuisances, are creatures of circumstance. They are the descendants of domestic dogs, abandoned and left to fend for themselves. These resilient beings navigate a world of concrete and chaos, finding solace in the nooks and crannies of our urban landscapes. They are survivors, but their existence is fraught with challenges - from finding food and shelter to avoiding traffic and, unfortunately, human cruelty.

Giant and me: Gentle giant of a University Campus, India.

The Challenge of Coexistence

Coexisting with animals in urban settings is fraught with challenges, but it's not impossible. It requires a shift in perspective, from viewing animals as intruders to recognizing them as integral parts of our urban ecosystems. This shift necessitates understanding, patience, and proactive measures to ensure their well-being and safety.

A Call to Action: Building Compassionate Urban Spaces

The incident reported is a stark reminder of the urgent need for change. We need to build cities that are not just human-centric but compassionate and inclusive for all beings. This vision includes:

  1. Education and Awareness: Promoting understanding and empathy towards street animals. Initiatives like community workshops and school programs can educate people about animal behavior, their needs, and ways to interact with them safely and respectfully.

  2. Animal Welfare Policies: Advocating for and implementing robust animal welfare policies. This includes effective animal control measures, like sterilization programs to manage population numbers humanely, and laws to protect animals from abuse and neglect.

  3. Community Engagement: Encouraging communities to play an active role in animal welfare. This can range from feeding programs to establishing community shelters and adoption drives.

  4. Urban Planning for Coexistence: Designing urban spaces that consider the needs of both humans and animals. This includes creating green spaces, safe crossings for animals, and designated feeding and shelter areas for street dogs.

  5. Strengthening Legal Frameworks: Enforcing existing laws and regulations that protect animals and penalizing acts of cruelty, as in the case reported, is crucial. It serves as a deterrent and a statement of societal values.

Chokra and Me: Last seen July 2018, was not returned to his territory after being taken away for neutering.

Stories of Hope and Compassion

Despite the challenges, there are glimmers of hope and compassion. There are stories of communities coming together to feed and care for animals, of individuals going out of their way to ensure a wounded animals gets medical attention, and of cities successfully implementing humane animal control programs.

The organisations like Voice of Street dogs and Tails of Compassion and Helping Organisation for People, Environment (HOPE) & Animal Trust are few of the initiatives that I have personally witnessed who work for the welfare of the animals living on streets of India. Being personally engaged in several rescue missions including one where a female dog was tied with a thick iron wire cutting into her neck and other similar cases, I found many instances of unexpected kindness among the people.

Dupa: Maintaining a positive outlook towards life after being deliberately crushed by a vehicle in Uttar Pradesh, India. Currently residing in a Animal welfare organization.

These stories are testaments to what we can achieve when we choose empathy over indifference, action over inaction. They remind us that coexistence isn't just a lofty ideal but a practical, achievable goal.

The Path Forward: A Collective Responsibility

The path to harmonious coexistence with urban wildlife, is a collective responsibility. It requires the involvement of various stakeholders - from government and civic bodies to NGOs and the general public. It calls for a concerted effort to create environments where humans and animals can survive and thrive together.

As we reflect on the incident that sparked this conversation, let’s not see it as just another news item to be forgotten. Let it be a catalyst for change, a starting point for a broader discussion on how we can reshape our urban environments to be more inclusive, compassionate, and harmonious.

Lalu: Last seen alive in July 2020, deliberately injured/hit by humans and left to die in a ditch, India.

In conclusion, the way we interact with and treat urban wildlife, is a measure of our civilization's progress. Let's work towards a future where incidents like the one reported are not just rare but non-existent. A future where humans and animals coexist in mutual respect and harmony is not just a dream; it's a possibility that's well.

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