A group of animal lovers have
banded the themselves together calling for the setting up of a
separate Ministry to deal with animal welfare.
They bemoan the absence of responsibility on the part of the
authorities to ensure proper treatment of animals and to protect
them from cruelty at the hands of man. Holding a press briefing,
speaker after speaker lamented on the lack of interest shown
towards animal rights by the authorities.
They claimed that no Minister was willing to present a Bill
in Parliament to deal with animal rights. Instead the Bill they
said was being passed on from one Department to another with no
one willing to take the lead to get it into our statute books.
The issue of animal rights has many advocates some with NGO
backing. While their intentions may be genuine and borne out of
the love for our dumb brethren some of these organisations must
be more active in their campaigns.
Only a few organisations speak about the rights of animals
who are slaughtered for their meat and cart bulls who are turned
into beasts of burden. Animal rights was never an issue in the
past where a people brought up in a Buddhist culture always
showed compassion towards animals.
However, with the change in the social landscape following
liberalisation and increasing contact with the outside world
many organisations and bodies sprung up championing many causes
and interests. The animal rights lobby too can be placed under
this category along with the environmentalists.
The message projected by these organisations is worthy of
commendation not only due to the nature of their mission but
also the inherent message sought to be conveyed to the public.
They should more vigorously espouse the cause of animals who
are being placed under the knife. While doctors and medical
experts may expound on the merits of leaving out meat from one's
diet there is no denying that Sri Lankans by and large consume
There may be bouts of conscience on the suffering put to by
the animals but there is no statistics or proof to indicate that
the public have been weaned away from meat consumption.
This may be one of the reasons why the authorities have been
fighting shy in enacting legislation towards animal protection.
Any Act in this respect would invariable have to include certain
restrictions on animal slaughter. This would affect the large
meat industry and many livelihoods.
Quiet persuasion, whereby the public could be weaned off meat
eating on a voluntary basis, could be an alternative. A vigorous
campaign has to be launched by animal rights activists to take
their message to a wider populace.
They should raise their voices against the rapid dwindling of
various animal species in the country and urge authorities to
stamp out poaching. Today most of their energies are expended on
protecting the canine population. This has elicited a good
response, but a larger campaign should be launched to cover all
animals subjected to cruelty.
A change of climate
The recent deliberations on climate change at the UN and also
in Washington have once again brought into focus the urgent need
for action on global warming.
There are clear signs of an emerging consensus on this
phenomenon which will result in catastrophic consequences for
the world if left unchecked. Global warming has the potential to
create a disaster far worse than the 2004 tsunami.
It is indeed a pity that the United States, the world's
biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, did not participate in the
September 24 UN High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change. However,
Washington's decision to convene a separate 16-nation meeting on
the same topic augurs well for the future.
The central message from the Washington conclave was that the
Bush administration is now serious about the threat posed by
Both meetings could be described as precursors to the
November meeting in Bali, Indonesia on the same topic, where
even more ambitious targets will be discussed under the Kyoto
Protocol's parent treaty, the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC). The goal is to pave the way to a global
agreement that will be concluded in 2009, with ratification set
Sri Lanka too is playing an active role in these initiatives.
It was disclosed yesterday that Sri Lanka would become one of
the first Carbon Neutral destinations in the world.
Sri Lanka will thus become a 'Travel and Tourism Earth Lung'.
This will be a major challenge, given that the country is
heavily dependent on long-haul tourism, in addition to being a
developing nation with a rapid pace of industrialisation.
Sri Lanka has thus shown the West that even developing
countries can take concrete steps towards reducing global
warming, even though they will be granted an extended grace
period under the Kyoto Protocol. It is now up to the developed
nations to work swiftly towards more comprehensive emissions