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The Nonhuman Animals of India

A baby water buffalo in a village in Rajasthan.


One of the things my students noticed immediately in India was the presence of nonhuman animals. Wild animals never seen in North America, such as monkeys, are ubiquitous on the streets of many Indian cities. Homeless animals, especially dogs, abound. And working animals like donkeys, camels, pigs, water buffalo, and elephants are common. Animals that are generally kept hidden from public view in North America--such as pigs--can be seen on many city streets, as are herded animals like goats and sheep.

Here are a few shots of the many nonhuman animals prevalent in urban India.

Many Indian cities are populated with large colonies of macaques.


Herds of sheep, goats, and bullocks are common sights in India. This shepherd passed our bus with his flock in a busy city street.


Pigs are despised in India, as they are in so many places, but they provide a vital service, helping to rid the streets of garbage.


Camels are common working animals in the western state of Rajasthan, where we spent much of our visit.

Water buffalo provide milk and labor throughout India.

This so-called "monkey trainer" is breaking the law. Animal rights activists have worked hard to make this cruel practice illegal.


Elephants used for transport seem exotic and fascinating to Westerners, but many Indians are concerned about the treatment of elephants. Even the guide bookI picked up advises tourists not to support this practice. 


No collection of animal photos from India would be complete without a picture of cows. Contrary to popular belief among Westerners, cows are not actually worshipped in India. They are revered, however, as the "mother" who provides the gifts of milk, curd, butter, clarified butter, and cow patties, which are used for fuel.