Show empathy as we live in their home

By Juliana Di Leonardo


Mahavira taught that all worldly things are temporary. However, the rate at which extinction is occurring today is greater than that which killed the dinosaurs. Ecologists estimate that the present extinction rate is 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural background extinction rate, bringing forth an event that is known as the Anthropocene extinction, aptly named after the singular species responsible for this mass event.

During a recent trip to the United Kingdom, I was reminded of threatened animal populations when I learned about hedgehogs, a tiny, spiny nocturnal mammal whose defensive abilities have inspired warships, phalanxes, and defensive arsenals for thousands of years.

Despite their intense guard, hedgehogs are now threatened with extinction in Great Britain, with their spines unable to defend against human development. Habitat destruction to make way for houses and cattle farms, pesticides, lawnmowers, and roadways have made hedgehogs the animal most in need of rehabilitation at Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital, the busiest wildlife hospital in the world. Britain’s countryside populations of these insectivores have declined by an average of 8.3% a year for the past two decades and up to three quarters of all of Britain’s rural hedgehogs have been lost over that time.

For this week’s Anuvrat or small vow, I encourage you to practice ahimsa by graciously inviting our wild animals friends to visit or inhabit our gardens or surrounding areas around our homes by providing a safe habitat where they can live peacefully and amicably with us to perpetuate both our existence and their’s. Forgo the pesticides and invasive grasses. Let the native “weeds” grow and allow our pollinators and beneficial insectivores like hedgehogs and opossums to flourish. And as always, consider leaving animals off your plate to avoid contributing to the world’s leading cause of pollution and deforestation.


Juliana Di Leonardo is the Vice President of Humane Long Island. She is a yoga and ballroom dance instructor, model, and artist. Her advocacy for animals exploited by the fashion industry was credited in the 2021 documentary “The Face of Fashion is Fear” and recognized by PETA with a Hero for Coyotes award)

Images courtesy of Good Housekeeping and Provided

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