What have they done to deserve this?
In my blog on 23 February, I wrote about how trusting street cats may become easy prey for animal-hating cowards. A news article yesterday reported a harrowing case where a one-year-old kitten was found wandering in the street with its left front paw cut off. The poor thing may have been another victim with too much trust to humans. The fact that the kitten was, as the article said, very hostile to strangers and wanted to bite the nurse cannot be taken to mean that this was a mean cat. How friendly would you be if someone cut off your left hand and then dumped you to the street to rot?
Today, a feature article described animal abuse of a different nature. "Where in the world is the elephant worst treated? The honest and straight answer is Kerala," said Paul Zacharia, one of India's best-known writers. He was referring to the plight of the state's 700 captive elephants, the largest "domesticated" elephant population in India.
According to the article, the elephants are mainly rented out for parades and processions during festivals, for political campaigns and for promoting goods in trade fairs. Here is how the article described the hardship the elephants have to put up with:
"The animals have to endure long and noisy parades where fire crackers are set off, they must stand close to flames, travel long distances in ramshackle open vehicles and walk on tarred roads in the scorching sun for hours. They also have to endure drunk, often brutal mahouts."
Mr Zacharia said that not a day passes without the news of an elephant meeting its death in an accident or getting grievously injured or killing the mahout in sheer desperation or running amok because it simply has had enough.
Killing the mahout? Running amok? You can imagine what sort of fate would await the poor elephant when such a thing happens. The elephant will certainly be regarded as having gone mad and will be killed or brutally tortured in retaliation. And hardly anyone in the angry mob will stop and think about what has driven the elephant to behave like that in the first place.