October 4 is celebrated as World Animal Day, with this year's theme, “A Shared Planet” and wildlife week is observed from 2-8 October. The theme emphasis that our planet is equally shared by all living beings. WAD was started in Florence, Italy in 1931 at a convention of ecologists and animal life in all forms is honoured and celebrated on this day.
Animals both large and small are a critical component and vital part of our environment. Animals, including birds, fish, insects and pollinators, are important to support the web of activity in a functioning ecosystem. The cycle of predating and becoming the prey is what keeps the ecosystem in order. Carnivores, prey on herbivores and herbivores live on grass and plants, such is the food chain.
When these animals die, their bodies decompose into the soil and provide nutrients for the plants. In this way, the animals keep the cycle stable. When this equilibrium is disturbed, things begin to spiral downwards. If the predators are killed, the number of herbivores will increase. This will decrease the amount of plant life and grass in that region, and naturally, the herbivores will come out of their habitat. Here counts the importance of niche. Bees collect nectar from flowers and thus pollination takes place with production of honey.
One of the most common uses of an animal is keeping them as pets such as dogs and cats. According to health.harvard.edu, having a dog as a companion can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lower the stress level on individuals. There is also evidence that keeping pets can significantly help children and the elderly with anxiety and mental health problems.
Further, the man-animal interaction has several positive effects on the health of both. Based on a study conducted by several researchers, people with pets have low heart rate and blood pressure levels compared to those having no pets. In this study, two groups of people, having pets and non-pet owners, were subjected to stressful situations. Then their cardiovascular reactivity was observed. And the results show that having a pet can significantly reduce the chances of cardiovascular diseases and helps in faster recovery. According to the Mayo clinic, animal-assisted therapy can help patients ease the pain and quick recovery in dental procedures, cancer treatment, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety.
In the elderly, having a pet provides emotional and social support too. A study reveals that pet owners have better physical and psychological well-being than people with no pets. They get compassion from the pets at old age and become better at doing their regular activities such as bending, kneeling, climbing stairs, walking, dressing up, preparing food, and taking medicines. And several studies show that having pets can help kids develop empathy and emotions plus increase interaction with others. Therefore, animals are essential in human life for both physical and mental well-being.
Animals like mice and rats are used for genetics and genetically modified experiments. When a new medicine is developed, animals like chicken and fruit flies are used to test them. They are used again and again until the medicine is deemed safe for human use. Snake venom is used to treat patients with cardiovascular, pulmonary and many diseases related to blood. The drug for treating cancer comes from a particular marine animal called Ecteinascidia turbinata. A deadly toxin produced by the snail Conus geographus is used for pain relief.
Animals are also the source of entertainment too. Safaris are yet another example where animals live in harmony and peace and at the same time provide income for owners. In Rwanda, one Gorilla earns Rs. 3.98 crore revenue per year from tourism. Some animals are used explicitly for sports and leisure. Polo, equestrian and horse racing are a few sports where horses are our best companions.
Celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals. Animals are sentient beings just like humans and have the right to live, be protected from cruelty under the effective animal protection act.
Half the world's mammals are declining in population and more than a third are probably threatened with extinction, according to an update of the Red List, an inventory of biodiversity issued by the IUCN. The most beautiful gift that God has given to us is the animals; they embellish the natural beauty by their unique way of existence.
Now the question is, how can you contribute to helping the animals? So the answer is very simple. The easiest way to help the animals is to become vegetarian, which will surely help in saving the animals and in enhancing your health. The other way is to stop purchasing the things that are prepared from the animals such as the fur and leather. Do not purchase the personal and the household products which are tested on the animals. Get yourself connected or donate to the animal welfare organisations and local animal rights.
Animals play such a critical role in our lives; without them, we’ll no longer be able to have this Earth. Human beings came into existence just recently as per the anthropological timeline. Animals existed for millions of years before that. Our state also has a wide variety of mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fishes as well. No wonder, it is one of the wealthiest states in terms of flora and fauna species. But, there is no meaning if we do not love and protect them. Therefore, in this World Animal day, let’s pledge not to harm and cruel the animals and before that, think twice for an earth without the animals.