Ancient India used religious sentiment to protect animals, and it worked: animals survived.
Modern India has enacted laws and acts to protect animals, and it has not worked: domestic animals are suffering unbelievable acts of cruelty while wildlife is getting wiped out.
Some cults have grown in strength and stature. Ganesha is among the most popular of deities. Shiva without Nandi and Durga without the lion or tiger is inconceivable. Yet this has not translated to protection for the animals on the field. The elephant is still poked and prodded by cruel mahouts and circus owners; the plight of the bullock in life and death is awful; and the tiger and lion are being poached to extinction.
Unless the ancient respect for all creations returns, unless India restores and respects her tryst with the biological diversity of creation, the sacred animals of India will remain sacred only in name.
And thus an elaborate mythology was evolved to protect each species and honour it. It worked for a while—for as long as good values remained important and greed was regarded to be a vice. – Nanditha Krishna, Author and Activist