Essay by Anita Misra, (1997)
Ever since the dawn of time man and animals have co-existed in the same environment. Scientifically, man himself is classified as an animal with similar needs. Although animals have killed man and man has hunted animals alike, theirs is a symbiotic relationship which cannot be refuted whatever age or time.
In Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, the existence of a conducive eco-system is highly dependent on the interaction between man and beast.
Different types of animals occupy various strata in the food chain of which man is invariably a part. Man relies on animals for food. Most people eat chicken, beef, mutton and pork as well as eggs and milk.
The very existence of man and the nourishment he needs from the time he is a baby comes mostly from animals.
Vegetarians and vegans have argued that they do not rely on animals for food. This is a false assumption as the vegetables and plants that feed the people are highly dependent on animals. In the wild, the animals eat the plants; if no animals ate the plants, there would be an overcrowding of weeds which would lead to the unhealthy development of plant life, resulting in an imbalance in the eco-system.
Animals also help in dispersing the seeds of fruits and vegetables in excretion. This helps to ensure that there is a continuity in the abundance of plant life. The circle of life is held in place by the animals, ie. the animals eat the plants, the animals help the plants reproduce and man eats both the animal and the plant. The faeces of the animals also help in the growth of the plants. When animals die, their decaying bodies also provide nourishment for the plants which in turn nourish the human beings. In vegetable farms, most organic fertilizers also come from decaying animal and plant matter.
Besides food, man also relies on animals for his livelihood. This can be analysed in two ways: indirectly and directly. Agriculturally based countries such as Australia and Argentina rely on some animals to get rid of other animals which might harm their crops. For instance, following the agriculture downturn in Argentina, state authorities released hundreds of foxes to kill the rabbits which were devouring agricultural produce in the field itself and causing great losses to the farmers.
Farmers also use animals, eg. oxen, to plow their land.
More directly, many people use animals as a means of living.
In India hundreds of thousands of people train animals to perform on the streets. Monkeys, cobras and donkeys provide a source of income for their owners and entertainment for the public. The circus works on this concept. Which circus will thrive without the wonderful pantheon of animals? The zoo and the Night Safari also use animals to entertain as well to collect revenue from the tourist industry to pump into the economy. Policemen also use animals like dogs for sniffing out drugs or carrying out search and rescue.
Animals are also crucial in the education of mankind. Medical students often use animals in the laboratory sessions to effectively understand concepts of anatomy. In scientific research, animals are used as guinea pigs to test a product before it is used on humans.
This has often been labelled the exploitation of animals but the importance of using animals to test new products is undeniable. Although human life is placed above that of animals, the necessity of animals to ensure certain aspects of safety for man is critical.
The social standing of man in some ways can be gauged from animals.
If a man has two oxen in India, he is given due respect and if he were to lose the oxen, it would be akin to losing his honour. In the olden days, even today, the possession of horses was considered a great achievement. In medieval France, if a man were to lose his horse due to sheer carelessness, he would often mete out severe punishment upon himself. Using animals to gauge social status might seem frivolous and flippant on the surface, but it has been practised for thousands of years and the importance of animals serving this function will continue in strong focus.
Animals also help develop the emotional and psychological well-being of people. Many people who keep pets such as dogs develop a strong emotional bonding with the animals. They tend to embrace qualities such as sensitivity and loyalty. Of course this is not true with some people who are prone to violent behaviour around animals but studies have shown that most people who have pets around them tend to be gentler, kinder and more loyal. They also develop a sense of responsibility. Children who have pets grow up, often taking these characteristics with them.
Animals also have a therepeutic quality which makes them good healers together with medicine. Some years ago, a girl in Ohio was suffering from high fever with no sign of recovering. Her parents requested her dog to be placed by her bedside and miraculously, within two days, she was on the road to recovery. This phenomenon has been difficult to explain but has been proven effective many times when the emotional boundaries between man and beast break down.
There are many other ways in which man relies on animals, for instance, clothing and accessories. Animals are a source of nourishment, a business as well as emotional and intellectual entities for man.
Unfortunately, Man has taken animals for granted, destroying wildlife and exploiting it unnecessarily for his own selfish reasons. No matter what the animal: carnivore, herbivore or omnivore, they all play a crucial role, directly or indirectly in the existence of man and this aspect of animals has to be understood before man can live blissfully in a symbiotic relationship with them.
Content: 24/30, Language = 16/20, Total = 40/50 (A1).
Well done. Quite the best I have read on this topic. It is mature and sophisticated in tone - even though it covers predictable areas.
resource : http://schools.moe.edu.sg/rjc/subjects/english/gp/downloads/misc-animals.htm