Letters To The Editor

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." – Charles Darwin

Single-use face masks are hurting wildlife

These days, wearing a face mask is the responsible thing to do – but unfortunately, that has meant single-use face masks, gloves, and other PPE are the newest forms of litter on city streets, beaches, and oceans. This is bad for so many reasons, but one of the worst is that the littered face masks can seriously hurt animals. A few days ago, I came across news of a seagull that got severely injured due to her legs getting tangled in a face mask. Another bird died due to the mask’s elastic ear material getting wrapped around her neck. Every month that the planet faces the coronavirus, an estimated 200 billion disposable face masks and plastic gloves are being disposed of and entering the environment. Not only can these synthetic PPE items hurt animals by entangling them, but they can also hurt and even kill animals who accidentally ingest them – something that commonly happens to marine life, even to some of the ocean’s biggest creatures. If you wear a single-use face mask, make sure to dispose it of properly. Never litter it on the ground, and try not to throw it away in an outdoor trash or set it down outside, as the wind could pick it up and blow it away. When throwing away a face mask, you can snip the ear loops in half with a pair of scissors. That way, even if it does somehow wind up as litter (by blowing out of a trash can, landfill, or garbage truck), there’s less of a chance it could get tangled around an animal. And if you do see an animal tangled in a face mask, try to restrain the animal, confine the animal, and then carefully cut off the mask. If you're unable to remove it, call for help.

Tabish Ali,

Another day, another case of animal cruelty

Despite their professed concern for animals, zoos can more accurately be described as “collections” of interesting animals than as actual havens or homes. Recently, two lions of Islamabad Zoo met a terrible fate at the hands of unprofessional animal caretakers as they died while being transferred to the private lion farm in Lahore from Islamabad Zoo. What shocked many was a video in which the caretakers are seen igniting fire inside the enclosure as they yelled “move, move” in an attempt to force the big cat to step out of the cage. The disturbed lion is seen roaring and moving frantically inside the small cage full of fire and smoke, resulting in severe injuries, suffocation and eventually death. Reports also claimed that the lion was beaten with sticks during the transfer. The lioness lost her life during the journey while the lion succumbed to his injuries two days later. All those people who support zoos and say that they may not be perfect, but at least the animals are safe there, right? They are fed, cared for, and protected from predators. They can see now that zoo animals are in no way safe and cared for at zoos. In fact, they are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves and are at the mercy of humans and these humans torture them and eventually kill them due to their unprofessional and inhumane behaviour. So, what can be done? Zoos can only function if they make money. Quite simply, we need to stop supporting them. Without our money, they will be forced to close. Some countries have already banned zoos, and I think the time will soon come when the whole world recognises them for what they truly are. But until then, we must all do our part to raise awareness and stop animal cruelty from being profitable.

Urooj Sikander,