By Peace Nakitto Kibirige
Tomorrow (October 4) is Animal Welfare Day. Surprisingly, little or no attention has been given to the lives of animals suffering from human cruelty, starvation, injury and neglect.
These animals interact with us every day, yet have been overlooked. While we strive to improve our wellbeing as humans, the attention given to animals is greatly changing, especially in developing countries.
Every October 4, the world celebrates the Animal Welfare Day to raise concern for the treatment of animals in our homes, on the farms, in laboratories, markets and the wild. The Jane Goodall Institute believes that in order to improve the well being of animals requires urgent attention from each one of us.
It is important to acknowledge that these animals have made a great contribution to our survival and development for so many generations until now, therefore, their wellbeing is essential to ours.
We have trained and kept animals to suit our needs, forgetting that they also need our care and respect. Land that was previously for wildlife is being encroached on leaving most of these animals prone to human and wildlife conflict where now wildlife is considered to be a pest rather than a part of us.
It is evident that where wildlife has destroyed crops, attacked man/livestock or there has been disease transmission between humans and animals.
This has often led to humans retaliating by killing wildlife which is an issue that should be urgently addressed through policy and legal frameworks and community awareness and education about animal welfare issues.
Sights of crude transportation of domestic animals to slaughter houses, on crowded trucks and ruthless loading on “boda bodas” (motorbikes) and bicycles are a common scene. Unlike in developed countries, few countries in Africa, Uganda inclusive have special vehicles and rules for animal transportation.
It is common to see poultry, goats, and pigs being transported up-side down to the extent that they are suffocated to death.
In addition, most markets do not have loading facilities or even animal feeding points along the routes to the slaughter houses that the animals are often starved.
Similarly animals transported on foot are subjected to walk long distance and beaten to forcefully move faster which deteriorates their physical condition. This calls for urgent measures to improve animal transportation and handling procedures, especially to markets and slaughter houses. The most common pets in Uganda are cats and dogs which have often been subjected to mistreatment by their owners who often tie them tightly in chains and ropes, lock them up for long hours in small spaced wooden shelters, or leave them to stray.
Most of these stray dogs and cats often get poisoned or beaten to death. Unfortunately, Uganda has limited facilities and organisations that take up abandoned dogs and cats and, therefore, there is need to put up birth control measures or have individuals who can adopt and take care of them.
My philosophy is, “if you can’t take care of an animal, then don’t keep one”. Just to mention a few incidences of animal cruelty, as a nation we need to:
· Develop policy frameworks to better address animal welfare issues
· Monitor for and reduce the incidence of animal abuse cruelty to animals
· Increase community awareness and education of the importance of animal welfare
· Promote training and facilitate animal welfare service providers in veterinary practice
· Facilitate health care for both wild and domestic animals
· Establish rehabilitation and care centres for both domestic and wild animals
The writer works with Jane Goodall Institute – Uganda