When it comes to animal welfare, seeing is believing

Correct me if I’m wrong but, for most people, the concept of summer holidays does not equate to bobbing up and down in a jeep at 6 o’clock in the morning, right? Yeah, me neither. But I learned the hard way that my parents aren’t most people.

As far back as I can remember, I have always spent my vacations in some forest or another, and more often than not, against my will. The reason for this was that, while all my friends went to Disneyland and Universal Studios, I went to stay at forest rest houses that didn’t even have electricity and were infested with bugs. And to top it all off, I barely ever saw any animals because, unfortunately, there aren’t many left.

But they’re not fully gone yet; they’re still holding on. And so, my parents made it their mission to make me see as many beautiful creatures that live in this world of ours before it was too late.

Through this steady exposure to the beauties of the natural world, I slowly — and much to of my horror — fell in love with animals. And that’s why my first drawing book was filled with cartoon animal sketches, of which I spent hours copying down animated elephants and bears and so many more animals, some of which I had never even seen in real life. But despite the fact I hadn’t seen them, flipping through, reading and re-reading the conversations the little animals had in my sketchbook made me happy because I had begun to care about them.

As I grew up, I gradually started learning about the ugly side of humanity. I started learning about climate change, poaching, deforestation, pollution, and the list goes on. I watched documentaries and read the environment part of my science textbook first.

I got worried. I am worried.

But simply being worried has never gotten anyone anywhere, so let’s talk about art because that’s something I often create when I’m worried. The purpose of art is to tell a story, make people think, or as Bob Dylan befittingly put it, “The highest purpose of art is to inspire.’” Art comes in many shapes and forms, and each variety makes one feel something. Art has the ability to make one see reflections of a distant reality. Art is reality, fragmented.

Image by Shyla Robinson

Isn’t the image above sweet? Did it warm you up on the inside a little?

Now, look at the image below…

Photo by Lila

How does it make you feel? The temperature dropped a few degrees for me.

As cliched as it may sound, seeing is believing. Considering that much of the human brain’s sensory cortex is devoted to vision, it is unsurprisingly more of an image processor than that of words. The reason for this is that words are relatively abstract, and hence harder to retain, as compared to corporeal images that simplify complex concepts and “make learning more effective and long-lasting.”

Now imagine if seeing the two pictures above make your feelings rise and fall so instantaneously, how much actually being exposed to the real deal could.

What I’m trying to make you understand is that all the reading and listening I did about the natural world wasn’t what made me so keenly interested in it; it was the numerous visits to the jungles that did.

This also means that you — yes, YOU sitting behind some screen that is causing the very parts of your body that allow you to see, to deteriorate — must STOP READING THIS ARTICLE and go see the real world. And if you can’t go out and see the real world right now because you have some trashy excuse like it’s midnight or something along those lines, at least look at images of baby animals online or look up the photographs that won Nat Geo Wildlife awards this year. Share the artwork you come across with your people, inspire them. Document what you find in the real world and share that too. Make natural beauty go viral.

The animals aren’t about to wait much longer considering the rate at which we’re driving them out.

So make precious visuals go viral quickly while you’re about it.

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