By Jane Mauro
Have you ever looked deeply in the eyes of individuals of other species? I’m not talking about your pets with whom you share space and create strong bonds.
I’m referring to animals living in farms and the wildlife. If you give it a try, you’ll understand the real meaning of the word “sentient.”
In some cases, there may be an unpredictable soul encounter when the hearts seem to touch. I had heard amazing stories of encounters with elephants, whales and wolves until it happened to me.
In 2010 I was lucky enough to spot a female orangutan and her playful baby (see photo at the top) while walking with my tour guide at Gunung Leuser National Park, in the north of Sumatra, Indonesia.
This tropical rainforest hosts an amazing variety of wildlife. Covering up to 8,000 km2, this park is one of the few places on earth where you can see the critically endangered Pongo abelii — the orangutan from Sumatra — in the wild.
The female orangutan was calm and confident. Her eyes were bright, full of life and knowledge. It was magical. At that very moment, I noticed her self-awareness without the need of any verbal communication. She was a mother — just like me — who cared about her baby. We were very much alike.
This encounter made me wonder why we have more right to live and enjoy well-being than other species. How is it possible to justify the destruction of this species and many others for the benefit of a single one?
According to a research, in 2004 there were only about 6,500 individuals of this species on the island. We, humans, are seven billion and counting.
Evolution has shaped a vast biodiversity, different habitats and unique genetic pools. How can a single species — the humans — consider legitimate to wipe out all others of the world to benefit themselves?
Unaware of the stats, the sweet orangutan does what every mother would naturally do: takes care of her baby, in the forest, surrounded by all sorts of human threats. Her fate is up to us.
Look in the eyes of other animals. Their lives matter.
Have you ever had any soul encounter with other species? Share it in the comments below.
Photos: Jane’s personal archives.