Stop making animals dependent on humans for food

During this crisis period, not much thought has been given to the survival and well-being of animals, especially those that depend on humans for food.

Although there are many “Please do not feed the animals” signs displayed at zoos, parks and public spaces nationwide, this sign is often ignored and defied due to weak enforcement.

The public, especially children and their parents, derive immense joy feeding monkeys and pigeons and this activity is usually the highlight of their visit to the park.

But when feeding becomes widespread, too many animals will converge in one place such as at Taman Persekutan Kiara in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur or Botanical Gardens in Penang.

At these places, monkeys, pigeons and tortoises enjoy the luxury of abundant food handouts which are literally served on a silver platter.

Over time, they have become lazy and complacent and rely entirely on humans for survival.

And when the food pipeline is cut off – such as during this Movement Control Order (MCO) period, the law of unintended consequences comes into play.

These same pampered animals are now going hungry as they have become so used to humans providing them food.

The weak ones will slowly perish while the stronger ones will have no choice but to be resourceful and look for alternative means to get food. Suffice to say, only the fittest will survive.

Except for domesticated animals, other animals do not need our food to survive. When humans feed them on a regular basis, we unknowingly alter their behaviour and they become too dependent on us for survival.

Instead of allowing these animals to roam free in the jungle to look for food, we have enticed them to exist closer to our homes with food. By doing this, we are telling them they do not need to break a sweat to look for food.

A cursory examination of the monkeys which roam freely in the inner parts of Bukit Kiara reveals that this group of monkeys have no issues with feeding themselves and certainly look healthier and slimmer.

Another worry is feeding leads to public health concerns as it increases the chances of disease transmission to people and other animals.

What then is the way forward?

Once the Covid-19 pandemic ends and when life returns to normal, let’s be mindful of the following:

  • If you think you are a good Samaritan by feeding these animals, please think again.
  • Do the community a favour by not feeding them or leaving food for them.
  • Since the animals are now slowly adjusting to finding their own food during the MCO, we should let them continue to do so. They will learn to be resourceful to be self-sufficient.

The authorities too should step up enforcement. In addition to heightening awareness on the need to shed the habit of feeding these animals, a maximum fine should be imposed on those who defy orders.

Over time, these animals will learn how to survive. Let’s get rid of this undesirable habit once and for all.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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