‘Humans and other species’ is the topic that I personally chose for my Global Perspectives individual research essay. While for my sub-topic, I have specifically chosen ‘Animal Rights’. The reason is that this is a common issue that is happening in this world. All of us know that every human being is entitled to their own individual rights, which gives them the ability to defend themselves if someone attempts to take them away from them. This should also be applied to animals for they are the same creatures created by God. However, their abilities to defend themselves from people who violate their rights are very limited. Some animals around the world are not being treated with care. They receive unnecessary harm and threats from various sides without the ability to fight back or speak for themselves.
According to Wikipedia, “animal rights is the idea in which some, or all, non-human animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives and that their most basic interests, such as the need to avoid suffering, should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings.”
In Indonesia, animal rights have become a rising concern. Nowadays, there are several non-government organizations that are involved in defending animal rights, such as JAAN (Jakarta Animal Aid Network), Garda Satwa Indonesia, and many more. Jakarta Animal Aid Network has played a big role in protecting animal rights in Indonesia. One of their acts is where they have succeeded to influence the government by banning the ‘dancing monkey’ act (topeng monyet) that used to be very popular in Jakarta. The ‘dancing monkey’ act was one of the famous entertainment in Jakarta where people used monkeys to earn money by forcing them to perform on the streets. Not only that, they were treated brutally, being forced to use masks, dance, and ride bikes in front of the crowds. [Appendix 1]
Since the beginning, this act is illegal. However, nobody cared about this rule until JAAN took action and began the campaign in 2009 regarding this animal abuse. The reason why they started this project was because of the cruelty the humans showed toward the monkeys. Their main website stated three main things that cause animal abuse. The first cause is the pet market. The monkeys are being sold in the market so people can buy and train them to dance and do tricks to be used for profit later on. Secondly, the monkeys are exported to different countries around the world to be used as subjects for research. Lastly, they are made into food to be eaten by humans. The monkeys, also known as Macaques, are caught from the forests and sold for either Rp. 25,000 or Rp. 70,000 which is approximately around US$2 or US$7. Through a lot of investigations, campaigns, meetings, and coordinating with the local government, providing facilities for the confiscated monkeys, and organizing a workshop, finally, JAAN succeeded in getting official approval from the former Governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo, to ban ‘dancing monkeys’ from the year of 2013 onwards.
Currently, JAAN is working on a project to save the dolphins in Indonesia. They started this project in 2014 and have been working on it since then. The dolphins that are used for shows are not being treated as how they should be treated. According to the JAAN official website, these dolphins traveled by truck for more than 30 hours. In the tanks they’re living in, they’re not able to use their sonar. “Laboratory research in 2012 proved that the water contains eight times as much chlorine levels as officially tolerated by mammals. Excessive amounts of chlorine can cause blindness, skin disorders, and a general decline in health. Conditions in dirty water, usually full of feces, cause infection and slow death in the dolphins.” This shows how much dolphins are indirectly being abused. They’re already suffering to be kept inside the small tanks as they’re not able to move freely, but the way humans take care of them made the situation even worse. It’s extremely cruel for them to be in a swimming pool when a few meters away is their true home, the ocean. It’s stated that in Indonesia, many of the dolphins are being replaced with wild-caught dolphins when they die. However, despite everything that happened to the dolphins, the government of Indonesia has not been taking much action against them. [Appendix 2]
Above is just two examples of animal abuse that happened in Indonesia. There are still a lot of them that haven’t got much attention from the public or non-government organizations that try to protect animal rights. Through this, it’s shown that protecting animals’ rights in Indonesia is still progressing.
As for global perspectives, animals’ rights are an issue that is quite well known. One of the well-known international organizations that defend animal rights is WWF (World Wild Life). It’s a huge organization that was founded in Massachusetts, United States and is working with 100 countries around the world. There are a lot of animal species that they are trying to protect. They played a very big role in protecting animal rights. The species of the animals that are stated on their official website are tiger, polar bear, giant panda, orangutan, amur leopard, sea turtle, chimpanzee, elephant, plains bison, vaquita, rhino, dolphins and porpoises, gorilla, whale, bonobo and a lot more. They are divided into three groups: marine animals, primates, and big cats. All of these animals are considered as endangered animals. Hence, WWF is trying to save them from extinction. There are a lot of species that have gone extinct, such as passenger pigeon, dodo, western black rhinoceros, Pyrenean ibex, quagga, Tasmanian tiger, steller’s sea cow, woolly mammoth, great auk, pinta island tortoise, and more. Based on the WWF official website, they’ve stated their ‘6 ambitious goals’ and will work around six key areas which consist of forests, marine, wildlife, freshwater, climate, and food.
“To accomplish our ambitious goals, we work to educate and influence people into making sustainable choices and decisions, including those who work in business and make decisions around the use of natural resources, and those who work in government and set policy that impacts nature.”
World Wild Life (WWF)
Aside from that, not everyone around the world supports animals to have their own rights. According to the website (www.debate.org), 74% of participants support animal rights, while the other 26% don’t. Most of the responses of people who agree with animal rights, talk about how animals should be treated the same way as how human beings are treated. They are saying that animals are also living creatures, they deserved to get a chance to have a peaceful life and have their own family. They do not deserve to be tortured by us, or for us.
On the other hand, 26% of them, have contrary opinions. They’re saying that animals don’t pay taxes as humans do, they don’t have the ability to understand things, especially to choose between good or bad, and they don’t defend the rights of human beings. Basically, in their opinion, animals don’t deserve their own rights, because even humans worked so hard to get their rights, but animals don’t even contribute to society besides giving food to human beings. They think it’s enough for people to provide them with food and shelter in return for the benefits that they’ve given to humans. On the issue of animal experiments, some people are worried about who will be experimented for medical purposes if animals aren’t allowed to be used, because it’s obviously extremely rare for people to volunteer themselves to be experimented on.
In my own perspective, animal abuse is something that we can’t tolerate anymore. It’s an extremely violent thing that’s happening around the world, and many people should take serious action against whoever abused any kind of animal. As said earlier, animals also deserve rights. They should have their own freedom in their own homes. It’s not right for humans to force them to do anything they want, especially when they do not take care of the animals nicely, for their business to get their own benefits.
Some people do not agree to have animal rights, because they said that it’s such a waste for people to spend a lot of money on animals that don’t even pay taxes or work, while poverty can still be founded around the world. I do not completely disagree with them. However, the reason why people have to spend a lot of money to protect these animals is because of humans themselves. If humans don’t bother the animals, take away their homes, use them for their own benefit, or even abuse them, some people don’t have to worry about protecting animal rights. As I said, animals have rights, but they can’t speak for themselves. Hence, we have to protect them since nowadays there are many animal species that have become extinct, while some of them have become endangered. [Appendix 3]
Animals are also living creatures. They need to eat and sleep just like humans in order to survive. They have feelings too. Hence, in my opinion, people who disagree with protecting animal rights should also take action in stopping people from abusing animals. If humans do not start pushing the animals into the corner, animals will be able to live in peace and survive, which we will not have to worry about. We can use the money that is spent for protecting the animals’ rights, for something else, for example reducing water pollution, air pollution, poverty, and many other main issues that are occurring in this world right now.
I have interviewed some students in our school about animal rights, and here are the answers that they have stated.
1. What do you think about animal rights?
“I think animal rights is very important because they aren’t any different from humans and they deserve to get what humans get, for example, humans get proper shelter and food. Some animals are abandoned because their owners no longer want to take responsibility to take care of them.”
- Ashley Liu Buntaram, grade 10 student
2. How often do you see animals being abused with your own eyes?
“Animals are being kicked at the streets. People have pets but they don’t know how to take care of them properly, and that can bring them to death.”
- Brilliana Thalia Wijaya, grade 10 student
3. Do you think that people have taken enough action about protecting animal rights?
“Yes, but it takes time because humans have different perspectives on the way they see animal abuse. For example, I see it as something horrifying and disgusting but to other people, they probably see it as something that gives them benefits.”
- Ashley Kellen Nio, grade 10 student
Even though people are working on how to protect animal rights, the world should take this issue more seriously. If we want our children or even our grandchildren to see the same animals as we do, we have to start protecting them. We have to take care of them now, to give them better shelters, and not take away their food and habitats. It is a serious matter. If animals are continuously being abused, one by one the species will become extinct. The world will not have animals.
So in conclusion, I suppose that organizations such as JAAN which represents Indonesia, and WWF which represents the world, have contributed enough to conserving animals. Even though they can do more by raising awareness about animal rights such as conveying them through social media and fun activities, they've done a lot of things to save the animals and their rights, and have inspired people to do the same thing.