Man versus Animal

Maneka Gandhi

he human being is possibly one of the weakest creatures on earth. That is probably the reason why we rely on weapons and machines. And, as time goes on, the sedentary life style and filthy eating habits have probably made us even weaker as our bodies pile on disease after disease. Take a look at strong animals and bless your gods that they have pure hearts without malice and no wish to control the planet. Because given their strength, they could easily do so. The grizzly bear lives in western North America. They are solitary non threatening animals, who congregate along streams and lakes when the salmon come in to lay eggs. They feast on the fish. Every two years the female gives birth to two tiny babies of one pound each and protects them till they grow up and are shot by American sportsmen who come at the ages of 13 upwards to the salmon areas , hide near their cars and shoot the bears long distance. The bear can lift 80% its own body weight. Their weight is 1500 pounds and they can lift 1200 pounds. I have a fit if I am asked to pick up 5 kilos which is about a millionth of my body weight. The green anaconda is a large, non-venomous snake found in South America. It is one of the largest snakes in the world and can squeeze something weighing its own body weight to death, roughly about 550 pounds. Stronger than both is the mussel, a clam, a creature that lives in its shell and is caught in the rivers or sea shore and eaten in the millions. The small creature can hold something twice its body weight. The castrated bull known in India as the bullock is used to pull carts in India. In fact, even today, 70 % of people and goods are pulled by him. He is used for ploughing, transport, threshing grain and for powering machines that grind grain or supply irrigation among other purposes. A pair are yoked together in the cruellest fashion possible, by putting a heavy wooden stick across their necks and then attaching that to a cart , so that in effect they are pulling heavy loads with their neck muscles. They can pull and carry 1.5 times their body weight across rugged terrain. Their weight is 1300 pounds but they pull and carry 2000 pounds. The tiger reaches up to 11 ft. in length, weighing up to 660 pounds. It can carry something twice its own body weight up a ten foot fence. A tiger can carry a small cow in its jaws and still climb a tree. Eagles can lift something four times their own body weight during flight. From mammals that are over 100 pounds, no one beats the leopard pound per pound. Not only can they pull with seven times the force of a human, but they are capable of preying on animals ten times their body size. Gorillas are the largest species of apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa. The DNA of gorillas is similar to that of a human, between 95 and 99% and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after the two chimpanzee species. Of course that does not stop us from hunting them, experimenting on them or even eating them. If they were as destructive as us, imagine the consequences: They can lift something over 10 times their body weight. Their weight is 450 pounds and can lift up to 4600 pounds or 30 adult humans. Gorillas have much larger muscles in their arms. They use their tremendous arm strength for bending and gathering foliage and, when called upon, for defence. Even the Leafcutter ants , any of 47 species of leaf-chewing ants in South and Central America are stronger than us. They can lift something 50 times their own body weight – Imagine a baby lifting a truck. Next to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth. They live like us, grow food, wage war, have servants, nurse babies, and build bridges and skyscrapers. Imagine if they were even half our size. We would be serving them.
Elephants are the largest land mammals. They have no natural predators but are endangered due to poaching. They are as intelligent as humans ( and in many ways more intelligent) but they are gentle and sensitive; Lucky for us. An elephant weighs 12000 pounds and can carry 20.000 pounds or 130 adult humans. Imagine if they wanted to stamp on us. However the title for the strongest animal in the world is held by the dung beetle. Even if a grown man could pull 95,000 kilograms, he still would lose to the world’s strongest insect—proportionally speaking. The dung beetle male can pull some 1,140 times its own body weight; Consolations to the rhinoceros beetle, which comes in second for pulling 850 times its weight. The strongest animal in absolute terms of strength has to be the blue whale which is vegetarian and has never attacked a human. The Saltwater crocodiles can inflict a bone-crunching bite that is around 3-4 times stronger than a lion. The force of this bite is a bit like having a car fall on top of you! Scientists argue that the world’s strongest animal is the copepod barely 1 mm long. It is also the world’s fastest animal and the most abundant animal on the planet. Copepods are crustaceans found in the sea and freshwater habitats ranging from swamps, to stream beds. They are eaten by fish, whales, seabirds and other crustaceans. They attach themselves to fish, sharks, marine mammals, and invertebrates such as molluscs or corals. Copepods have a teardrop shaped body with an armoured exoskeleton. Their strength lies in being able to flee from predators. Their escape jump is hugely powerful and effective. They jump at a rate of half a metre per second, and that’s within a few thousandths of a second, making them stronger than even manmade motors. How did we get to be kings? Through sheer viciousness.