A day for the unsung heroes

Here’s a shout-out to the clever crow, the sleek Komodo, the healing maggots and the gregarious gibbon

We have allocated special days to ourselves for different reasons – we have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day and so on. And now several animals and the environment too have celebratory days, even weeks and months dedicated to them. There’s World Environment Day, Big Butterfly Month, and, of course, National Dog Day! But several worthies have been left out. Here’s a list of some of the contenders who should very much be celebrated with days and even weeks dedicated to them:

National Dung Beetle Day: Now that dung is being regarded as something akin to the food and facials of the gods, the humble dung beetle needs to be celebrated for its place in the patty. Dung beetles process all kinds of dung into rich, fragrant soil and without them we would be living in a fetid fly-infested environment ripe with viruses which would embarrass even COVID-19.

World Cockroach Week: For triggering revulsion, they’re unparalleled. But they’re supposed to be the inheritors of the planet in case of a nuclear holocaust, and for this, they must be celebrated.

International Lizard Day: Geckos are the only creatures that can drop their tails and flee when things get hot; the Komodo has saliva that can kill you in slow motion and the lounge lizard has a tongue as smooth as oil on glass!

World Serpent Week: Shafted in the so-called Garden of Eden, snakes have got a bad rap. Add to that their venomous concoctions (which are being investigated for cancer medication) and their unblinking stares and “forked” tongues. Yet they are marvels of biochemical engineering, they get rid of rats, which eat 20 per cent of our food grain stocks, and spread Black Death.

International Rat Day: Rats are nothing but squirrels with scaly tails. Luckily, little boys around the world have for long recognised this and have kept them (and their cousins, mice), safely in their pockets ever since pockets were invented. Rats have sacrificed a great deal in assisting us in our more bizarre and macabre medical experiments. And then we have Ratatouille, Mickey Mouse, Water Rat, et al!

International Maggot and Leech Month: Maggots saved thousands of badly wounded soldiers in the great wars, by clearing up gangrenous tissues from their wounds in the battlefield before Florence Nightingale arrived. They’re still being used for this purpose in hospitals — they go for just dead tissue, preventing infection.

Leeches take care of excessive bleeding during surgery, enabling surgeons to see better what they’re operating on.

Naked Mole Rat Day: A remarkable animal: hideously fair and unlovely (pink), and hairless the naked mole rat is highly social, suffers no pain on account of poor body image or even otherwise. Can live in a low-oxygen atmosphere (researching this, during these COVID times would be very useful) and has a very long life. Scientists are wondering what the heck is going on!

National Buffelow Day: The poor buffelow (aka buffalo) doesn’t seem loaded with grey matter, but can toss you head over heels — or skewer you like a seekh kebab — with one swipe of its head! So, they deserve some respect, at least for a day!

International Toad Day: In spite of being fat, squat and clumsy and pockmarked with warts, toads always seem to have a smug smile on their faces. And Australia’s famous cane toads have shown the world how to do to colonialists what they did to us.

International Crow Day: Crows are acknowledged to be the Einsteins of the avian world. They can be taught to pick locks, solve puzzles, stealing comes naturally to them as does gang violence (lynching) which is now so much the rage. And all done with a wicked twinkle and glitter in those beady eyes!

National Indie Day: Ever since the PM put in a word for them, they must certainly have a day dedicated to them. Tough, resilient, canny and impervious to global climate change, these dogs are gaining popularity – and social status — in India.

Pedigree Pooch Day: As we are a democracy, we must also have a day dedicated to these: These pooches — if bred properly — are top-notch specialists, yes, they may be fussy, have expensive demands and habits — but hey, you shouldn’t get a Rolls-Royce if you can’t maintain it. Unfortunately, rampant puppy-milling goes on with pedigrees, and has devastated them.

International Larvae Day: To celebrate the larvae of millions of species of insects, which eat virtually everything and transform into creatures of ethereal beauty or total revulsion: a miracle every time! And for giving “survivors” like British adventurer Bear Grylls, something to disgust viewers with, even though they may provide “high-protein nourishment”. Sacrifices should not go in vain.

National Ape Day: Chimps, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons have given us more than we like to think, and are still giving: wisdom, humour, cunning, violence, medical knowledge and above all the ability to sing, whoop and dance exuberantly.

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