By Ashley Racers
We’ve all seen or heard stories of horrific violence taken against animals. We’ve seen the rhinos bleeding to death because of human actions, the dying dolphins scattered along the beach and so on. In most developed countries, people are against animal abuse and laws have been put in place to stop these acts of cruelty. However, in developing countries animals are often abused and treated poorly. This may be due to the fact that laws and legislation have not been put in place to protect animals and prevent cruelty. But sometimes, laws have been put in place, except they are not enforced, leaving animals to suffer.
Take Indonesia for example.
Indonesia is a country with rich biodiversity, with 17% of the world’s wildlife species residing in Indonesia. The World Animal Protection (WAP) states that Indonesia has legislation protecting the welfare of wild animals as well as legislation which protects animals in captivity. The Indonesian law states that where the survival of a wild animal “depends on humans” (e.g. animals in zoos), the animals must have freedom from pain, injury and disease, from discomfort, persecution and abuse, and from fear and distress.
However, is this law actually followed?
Since most of Indonesia’s wildlife is threatened by habitat destruction and wildlife trade, a lot of animals end up in zoos. But according to a search by wildlife monitoring group, the Scorpion Foundation, in 2017 around 90% of zoos in Indonesia were unfit for habitation.
There have been multiple cases of violence towards animals in Indonesian zoos, which have caused outrage all over the world. Animals in the zoos have been underfed, physically and mentally abused and greatly mistreated. For example, in June last year, a video was uploaded showing a painfully thin sun bear kept in a zoo in Singkawang, a city in West Kalimantan. Other cases include photos of animal cages in a mini zoo in Cilodong, West Java, filled with plastic waste and used bottles. Although, as stated before, Indonesia has animal cruelty laws in place, weak law enforcement means that those who treat animals poorly almost never experience any consequences.
Another example is the animal welfare laws in Thailand. The first ever animal welfare law was put in place in 2014, only six years ago. The country faces a wide array of animal welfare issues, including but not limited to over 860, 000 stray dogs as of 2017, legal animal fighting such as cockfighting and common exploitation of elephants. Many tourists want selfies of themselves patting elephants or riding them, however they’re not aware that these working and performing elephants in Thailand are trafficked from surrounding countries, plucked from the wild and beat until they are submissive enough to be used for entertainment at tourist destinations.
Even elephant trainers admit to abusing the animals.
Sadudee ‘Sam’ Sericheevee, an ethnic Karen (a group indigenous to the Thailand-Burma region) whose family has a long history with elephants in the Mae Wang district, told Channel News Asia; “Small cage made from wood is placed on the ground. People would bring an elephant into the cage, tie its legs and neck to stop it from moving and start training it by beating the animal. They would hit it with a hook and a knife on its head to tame it...The elephant would scream day and night, beaten, hooked, knifed – everything.”
It’s no secret that animal cruelty is common in developing countries such as Indonesia and Thailand. It is often that stories arise sharing tales of abused and underfed tigers and elephants, stray, neglected cats and dogs, but nowhere near as often do we hear of justice being served to those who commit the crime. As Australians these stories easily go over our heads. Perhaps it saddens us for a moment, maybe we drop a dollar in a jar, but it’s safe to say that it’s not a big concern, even though there are a plethora of different ways that we, as habitants of developing countries, can help out.
By raising awareness, volunteering, donating and fundraising we can all help save animals in third world countries from suffering abuse and neglect. Researching and avoiding industries that do abuse animals (such as the elephant industry in Thailand) is another way we can help out. Every life matters, and the fact that so many lives are being destroyed by lack of care is soul shattering. If it was your pet in this situation, wouldn’t you want to help?
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Woke magazine.
**Cover Photo by Stephan Streuders