Belonging to the animal kingdom we happen to have very close relations with the diverse members of this group. While it is nature that is usually responsible for the type of relations and interactions we have with its different members, humans do have a unique talent to carve out interesting and profitable relationships at their end of the equation with these animals. There are a number of animals who are made to work for humans in a variety of circumstances for an even wider range of reasons and causes. We often do not understand the extent of these more often than not exploitative relationship on behalf of our benefit and comfort and to a large scale, luxuries. While it is not always exploitative to the extent that they die for our sake, it can be that they strive and labor for the human species throughout their life. While most people know the popular working animals and their uses, some of their job descriptions might surprise you! The other less popular animals in this list are actually downright new and interesting . Herewith is a list of the animals that are made to work for humans.
Who would have guessed, right? Contrary to popular perception as snakes being one of the most feared and intimidating animal, they are brought into the human sphere for many interesting reasons. There are numerous species with varying venomous capacity, and thereby the most popular use of a snake, particularly a venomous snake, is to extract its venom for making anti-venom that will be used in case of snakebites. One bizarre use of a snake is for giving snake massages to people, as it possesses smooth scales and will quickly become comfortable with people (so it is said!). Snakes are also increasingly being used to detect oncoming seizures due to their superior sensory capabilities. Snake venom due to its cytotoxic (cell-killing) properties, is now being used in cancer research.
No, not the Human Navy SEALS, but actual Seals or Pinnipeds are trained to be part of the US Navy. Their considerable communicative skills and intelligence have been tapped by the US Navy to use them in military applications. Trained seals detect enemy divers and attach a clamp to their legs within a few seconds, before the enemies even realize the situation, and then wait for human reinforcements. While many animal activists groups protest such missions, due to the endangering of animals, the authorities claim to release them on completion of their mission.
Cormorants are seabirds that stay within the coastal range and naturally prey on fish. This instinctive nature is now used by humans to aid them in fishing. Certain species of cormorants are trained to catch fish in China and Japan. These birds are hand-trained from a very early age and made to hunt fish, taking advantage of their feline necks and extremely sharp beaks. They are made to wear a collar that prevents them from swallowing the fish. On returning the fish, the collar is removed and they are allowed to feed on part of the hunt as a reward.
With the expansion of technological knowledge base and the increasing need for alternative energy sources, humans are definitely getting creative with finding new sources of power. A certain species of eel of the knifefish family from the Brazil’s Amazon river, releases steady bursts of up to 500 volts when alarmed. This unique source of hydropower energy was tapped in Japan and the diverted electricity was used to power Christmas tree lights.
Donkey is usually represented in popular culture as the dumb, load-bearing animal and though this is true to a large extent, these days even donkeys are being assigned with innovative tasks. It has been used since times immemorial as a draught animal or a load animal. It can carry immense amounts of load with little or no complaints for extended periods of time. They are now being trained as Guard Donkeys by harnessing their instinctive herd-defending mentality. They can effectively guard livestock and protect property with their attack-first, confront-later attitude towards humans and animals alike, keeping at bay both human and animal predators at the same time. Donkeys are also used as harness animals at some places where they are made to pull carts.
Rats are commonly known as pests and vectors of deadly epidemics. Various species of rats are in fact used for a variety of human purposes. Rats usually have very high rates of reproduction which make them ideal to study various processes. Most people are usually aware of the concept of laboratory rats, these are rats that are used in experiments of science, thanks to them we now understand lot more about genetics, diseases and drug effects. They are used to study behavioral patterns and general intelligence of higher animals. Hero rats are trained rats of the size of dogs, that are used for detecting explosives and saving human lives in the process, as they have an acute sense of smell. These rats are used in South Africa to detect and clear landmines in earlier war zones.
Ox is a bovine trained as a draft animal. It is used to pull carts and also as a harness animal in many cases. Oxen are used in many traditional farming practices in India and many other countries for threshing, plowing, generation of power supply or for purposes of irrigation. It is a normal visual to see people use bullock carts for transportation in rural India as they can navigate through rough roads and pull heavy loads quite effortlessly. They are also sometimes used for small-scale mobilization of logs in the forest.
These large mammals have deep relations with humans in aspects relating to religion, culture, economic and social relations. They have been used as working animal for quite some time now. Elephants, considering their large mass and their strong legs, trunks capable of lifting weights, are associated with hauling heavy logs and other such loads. They are used to pull wagons, load logs into trucks and lead various religious processions. Elephants are also accustomed to giving fun rides to tourists and visitors at wildlife sanctuaries and zoological parks. Historically they have been associated with warfare and even at present times are used for militaristic purposes in some countries. Elephants were considered to be a royal symbol and one of the unethical purposes for which they are hunted down by humans are for their ivory tusks. Due to the danger, it presents to the species, the poaching of elephants is now banned in the countries they are found.
Horse or is an animal that is intrinsically connected with the human history. Horses were once the premier of warfare technology. It has come a long way since then. Today horses are used to pull wagons, carriages, and carts, they are also used in armies around the world for mobilization of equipment and other purposes. Horses are used for transportation in many rural areas and also to pull loads. Seeing-eye horses are miniature horses that are trained to navigate and remember routes to provide assistance for the visually impaired. These are preferable over trained dogs because they have superior vision, long term memory and are less likely to be distracted than dogs.
Being man’s best friend does have its disadvantages. Most assistance requiring activities are carried out by them. They are trained to herd livestock, to track down hunted animals for humans etc. Sled dogs are used for pulling sleds (light-weight), guard dogs are trained to track down criminals, explosives, and other stranded victims. Dogs are also used as domestic pets to both guard houses as well as be a companion to the people. Seeing-eye dogs are trained for providing visual help for the visually impaired people, as dogs are easy to train and learn and adapt very quickly.