Animals are important stakeholders, too

World Animal Day was observed on Oct 4. This year, it got me thinking a little deeper about the link between humans and animals.

Aside from being pets, animals also serve as a source of food. And then, there are also wild animals that have their place in the ecosystem, too.

Scientists estimate that currently, there are over seven billion humans in the world. That may sound like a lot, but it constitutes less than five per cent of the total life on Earth. Chickens (over 18 billion), outnumber humans. However, humans outnumber cattle (1.4 billion) and sheep (1.1 billion), but these numbers pale in comparison to the insect world, though.

Overall, 82 per cent of life on Earth is made up of plants, 13 per cent is bacteria, and just five per cent of life on Earth is animals (including humans). Yet, the bulk (with the exception of No. 15 – Life On Land) of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals to transform our world, appear focused directly on the wellbeing of humans. Any impact on animals is a mere by-product.

We’re all familiar with the concept of the food chain, and that alone ought to be sufficient justification to take better care of animals. We’ve all heard of Mad Cow Disease and the Nipah Virus, and if you read ‘Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat’ by Howard F. Lyman, you’ll get a new appreciation for the importance of ethical animal husbandry in the livestock industry.

Pet owners too, have a responsibility to ensure that our furry or feathered companions are treated with care. Pets that aren’t neutered and vaccinated are a threat to humans, too. Case in point: rabies and lyme disease. And some feline skin ailments are also contagious to humans. If only for selfish self-preservation reasons, it’s in humans’ best interest to take better care of animals.

Malaysia would make great strides in wildlife conservation and animal protection with more support from state governments and the corporate sector. I am waiting for the day that local governments and developers find a way for projects to co-exist with wildlife and nature. Now that’s sustainability! The area around the Tasik Cermin hiking trail in Shah Alam is a classic example.

The area is home to many different species of flora and fauna; even a tapir (it’s an endangered species!) has been spotted roaming there. Many are wondering, given the overbuilding and glut of dwellings in Selangor, do we really need to destroy this natural haven to build more houses?

According to the Economy Ministry’s website, “Malaysia, together with other 192 world leaders, adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, on 25 September, 2015. This is a global commitment towards a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive development, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets”.

I believe that focusing on animals is critical to achieving these lofty goals because animals play a critical role in the survival of humans.

“Conservation is not just about saving species; it’s about saving ecosystems and the delicate balance of nature” – Biruté Gladikas, Canadian anthropologist, primatologist, conservationist, ethologist, and author.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.

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