Death On The Beach
My friend and I spotted a dolphin on Juhu beach while we were out jogging on June 15, 2015. It was alive, though brutally injured. Its breathing was laboured and the heavy stench of death pierced the air. The dolphin was struggling between life and death; sadly it died, not due to injury but due to the ignorance of the public, and wildlife organisations that were too busy to attend to the matter.
I called more than 20 organisations including PETA, wildlife shelters, and other NGOs. While some blatantly refused to help, others were, I suppose, too preoccupied to answer an alarmed 17-year old’s desperate call for help. One organisation even told me that dolphins are fish and they are only in charge of mammals! I explained in vain that dolphins are mammals, just like him and me, but he simply disconnected the line. Another person had the cheek to tell me that the animal was dead, so there was no use in reaching out anymore. The reactions were shocking to say the least.
We eventually called the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the local municipal authority in Mumbai, as our last resort. We expected nothing - if private organisations refused to care, why would the over-worked, municipal authority help? But we were proven wrong. Not only was my call promptly answered, but immediate action was taken. I was in touch with the officials on Whatsapp through the night. This was perhaps the only silver lining of this appalling day; at least the government body stood by its motto. I felt a wave of patriotism and belief, which renewed my trust and respect for my country.
Yet, I couldn’t sleep, disturbed by the lack of positive response from so many organisations. The thought hounded me – what are these animal care organisations doing if they can't respond to an emergency? What are these organisations doing if they have no idea of how to deal with a dying or a dead animal? This incident has left me disillusioned. Why couldn’t they save the life of a dying dolphin on Juhu beach, when they claim to aid thousands of animals worldwide?
I had to reach out. After endlessly following up with daily newspapers, it was DNA that understood my anguish. Tanea Bandhyopadhyay, a reporter from DNA worked with me to call each and every animal welfare organisation I tried reaching out to. But when she called, they claimed to never have received my complaint!
Tanea informed me that 32 dolphins have been found dead on the coastline between Mumbai and Dahanu in the past few months. This can’t be coincidence and I am determined to find out the cause of these deaths, even if that means following up day in and day out with the concerned authorities.17-year-old Dhruv Raj Bhartia is a grade 11 student of Jamnabai Narsee School, and has a keen interest in creative writing, economics and foreign languages. Dhruv has a passion for social work and strongly believes that every student should have a mind for studies and knowledge, but a heart for the world.