This year, we have witnessed the cruelty of mankind and the consequence that it has caused. Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, has passed away at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Lakipia, Kenya. He was euthanized after suffering from age-related complications. Thanks to the endless poaching, hunting and looting of animal hide, tusks, and horns, we have caused a major devastation in the face of the earth. As of now, we only have two Northern White Rhinoceros left, Najin and Fatu, and both of them are female. With the demise of the only male white rhino, this can cause the extinction of the said subspecies.
Why am I talking about all this? Let me tell you a story. My girlfriend and I loves to travel, especially on our birthdays. Yes, we celebrate our birthdays together. On the first week of March, we planned on going to the northernmost region of the archipelago, Ilocos. We reached Vigan early in the morning. After breakfast, our tour guide told us that we will be going to Baluarte, a wide landscape of a hill and grass plain. It is owned by an Ilocano politician and according to the leaflet that was given to us, the place is a mini zoo, where animals are able to graze freely, though some are kept in cages. As animal lovers, we immediately got off the vehicle and explored the whole area.
At first, I was very entertained watching Philippine deers, peacocks, wallabies, and tigers. However as we went up the hill, I noticed that my girlfriend was no longer having fun, and was rather pitying the animals that were kept. At the topmost part of the place was a large hall called “Safari Gallery.” I was very optimistic assuming that inside the hall, photos of animals or stuffed animal figures with small description about them would greet us. I was expecting to feel a museum-like experience before entering the hall. But instead of fun, I felt sadness and fear creeping out from the things that I saw. We were looking at the stuffed animals along with photos of the politician posing beside the poor dead animals moments after they were shot.
It was not educational at all. It was just pure showing off! Every corner of the hall was full of severed heads of animals, preserved bodies of lions, a bear, and other animals. We roamed around the hall, never taking another photo. Just three or five shots, that’s it. It was so horrific that I wouldn’t want to see those scenes again on a still photo or even in my sleep. We were saddened as we watched people pose and take photos beside the dead animals. What made us despise the place even more was one of the displays in the gallery showing a tiger with the owner’s face over it, as if portraying himself as the animal. What does it mean? Does it mean that he is far more superior than any species in the animal kingdom?
My girlfriend and I walked out of the hall with curled eyebrows and sullen look wondering and asking why.
Why would people enjoy looking at stuffed animals rather than live ones in the wild? Or perhaps documentaries? Why would people kill these animals, knowing that we only have a handful of them left in the wild? How can we accept the reality that they are posing in front of a dead animal, smiling as if that it’s just nothing? We continued walking down towards the vehicle that we rented for the tour. We never looked back. We never talked about it. We were hurt with what we have witnessed. We promised never to return to that place and never to look at the animals that were killed, stuffed and displayed again. I promised to write about it and let you know.
We are the problem. We are the reason why we will no longer see an animal like Sudan. We are the problem and we can be the solution.
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