Humans have warred and rioted against each other for millenia. While history will always recall wars fought over land, resources and power, there are other riots, conflicts and wars that were triggered by animals or fought over animals.
10 1962 Pakistan Riots
In 1962, the Indian state of Gujarat gifted two cats to the two sons of John Kenneth Galbraith, the US Ambassador to India.
The boys named one of the cats “Ahmedabad” after the Indian town the cats were born.
Ahmedabad was later shortened to “Ahmed”, which as they soon found out, is a variation of the name of the Muslim prophet Muhammed.
Pakistanis did not take the issue lightly. They attacked US properties and citizens in Pakistan as Islamic clerics called for Galbraith’s head and the Pakistani parliament demanded an apology.
After several days of rioting, the ambassador changed the cat’s name to Gujarat, after the state it was given to his sons.
9 War of the Cow
The War of the Cow was fought in southern Netherlands between 1275 and 1278.
It began when a man from the village of Jallet stole a cow from the village of Ciney and tried selling it to someone in the village of Andenne.
He was arrested and sent to the bailiff of Ciney who promised him freedom in exchange for the cow. He returned the cow but was still hanged for its theft.
The hanging angered the Seigneury of Goesnes — who ruled over the man’s village, Jallet — because the execution was carried out without his permission. He formed an alliance and launched an attack that degenerated into an all out war that left 15,000 people dead.
8 Moradabad Riots of 1980
In 1980, India experienced one of its deadliest riots ever. Between 400 and 2,500 people were killed.
Houses were burnt with people inside, shops were looted, citizens engaged the police in shootouts and the army was called on standby — all because a pig strayed into a Muslim praying ground.
Muslims — who generally detest pigs and pork — threw stones at the pig. (link 9) But police officers around the mosque thought the stones were aimed at them, so they opened fire on the crowd and caused a stampede that coupled with the shootings, led to the death of 80 Muslims.
Angry Muslims formed mobs that attacked and killed police officers until the riots took a new dimension and changed from a Muslim-Police one to a Muslim-Hindu one.
7 San Juan Pig Crises
In 1859, the US and Britain almost went to war over… of all things, a pig.
The whole thing happened on the island of San Juan, which happened to be disputed between British-colonized Canada and the US.
It started when an American man called Lyman Cutlar killed a pig he caught eating his potatoes.
As it turned out, the pig belonged to a British man called Charles Griffin, who blamed Cutlar for not keeping his potatoes away from his pig.
Griffin rejected Cutlar’s $10 compensation and reported him to British authorities. Meanwhile, Americans on the island reported Griffin to American authorities.
The US deployed 66 soldiers to the island while Britain sent in 3 warships, and both continued to increase their deployment until there were over 2,600 soldiers and 3 warships on the island. The situation remained tense and both armies remained on the island until it was ceded to the United States in 1872.
6 Oregon Range War
The Oregon range war was the widespread killing of sheep in central and eastern Oregon.
It started in the 1890’s when Oregon sheepherders started grazing their sheep on land traditionally grazed by cattle.
The grazing quickly became a problem for cowboys who suddenly started having problems with finding pasture for their cattle.
To discourage the sheepherders from further grazing, the cowboys formed the “Izee Sheep Shooters” squad, which sneaked on sheep herds and tied herdsmen to trees before killing their sheep.
The cowboys refused negotiation with the sheepherders and continued their sheep-killing spree until the US federal government demarcated the land and rented it to both parties.
By then, over 10,000 sheep had been killed.
5 Iowa Cow War
The Iowa cow war was a series of clashes between farmers and government veterinarians in the Cedar county of Iowa.
It began in 1931 when the Iowa state government ordered compulsory tuberculosis tests for all cows. Infected cows were killed and the farmer was reimbursed two-thirds of its price while he bore the brunt of the remaining one-third.
Afraid of losing income, farmers rejected the tests with claims that it caused deformities in calves, induced abortion in cows and was the real cause of tuberculosis.
They guarded their farms against government veterinarians and engaged deputies with clubs, eggs and pumpkins. They finally freed their cows for testing when the state governor of Iowa called in the National Guard.
4 Grattan Massacre
In 1854, a cow escaped from a wagon crossing the Oregon Trail and fled to a Sioux Indian camp.
The Mormons were afraid of asking the Indians for their cow. So they approached the army and lied that the Sioux Indians stole their cow.
The army deployed a detachment led by Lieutenant John Grattan to recover the cow.
The Indian man accused of stealing the cow denied the accusation and resisted the arrest.
An angry Lieutenant Grattan ordered his soldiers to engage the Indians with cannon fire. One of the Indian Chiefs was killed and the Indians responded by killing all the soldiers.
In revenge, General William S. Harney of the US Army led an attack, known today as the Grattan Massacre, on the village the following year. 85 Indians were killed and 70 more were taken prisoners.
3 Brown Dog Riots
The basis for the brown dog riots was set in 1903 when one Professor Starling of the University College, London used a brown dog for series of surgeries without anesthesia. The incident drew the ire of the British National Anti-Vivisectionist Society (NAVS), which sued Professor Starling.
NAVS lost the lawsuit and erected a statue of the dog with a plague that read “Men and women of England, how long shall these things be?”
Five hundred pro-vivisectionists rallied to destroy the statue but were all arrested and fined by for trying to cause a riot.
The fine became the proverbial last straw and both groups openly rioted and fought on the streets of London.
In 1910, the Borough city council removed the statue to prevent further problems but NAVS replaced it in 1985.
2 Cod Wars
The Cod Wars were series of confrontations between Britain and Iceland over cod fishing rights.
The first of three incidents occurred in 1958 when Iceland increased its exclusive economic zone — where it could fish exclusively — from 3 miles to 12 miles.
British trawlers ignored the new zone and Iceland deployed naval warships to expel the trawlers.
Britain responded by deploying warships and both remained in a tug of war until Britain backed down.
The war was reactivated in 1972 when Iceland increased its exclusive economic zone to 50 miles.
Britain deployed its navy again and Iceland responded by cutting the nets of British trawlers and ramming British warships. Iceland also shot at one British trawler with rifles and another with non-explosive shells.
British trawlers later respected the new economic zone and all remained well until Iceland increased it to 200 miles in 1975.
As usual, Britain responded with its navy, which reinforced the hulls of its ships and started ramming Icelandic ships.
One Icelandic ship was rammed until it sank and another was rammed until it almost sank.
In response, Iceland engaged British warships with machine guns and the situation remained tensed until Britain backed down after Iceland threatened to shut down a NATO base in Iceland.
1 Franco-Brazil Lobster War
Before 1962, French fishing trawlers had the habit of harvesting lobsters just outside the national waters of Brazil.
This did not go down well with Brazil which ordered that French trawlers left the region for Brazilian boats.
France asserted that Brazil that had no right to stop its trawlers since they were “fishing” in international waters.
However, Brazil made it clear to France that lobsters crawled on the continental shelf and did not swim, so they belonged to Brazil since the continental shelf was Brazilian territory as defined in the Geneva convention of 1958.
The French countered this claim, stating lobsters were fishes since they hopped on the seabed and did not crawl.
In its defense, the Brazilian government stated kangaroos would also need to be categorized as birds since they hopped and did not walk.
French trawlers remained in the region and the French navy deployed a destroyer for their protection.
Brazil also deployed its navy and air force and both countries remained at loggerheads until an international court ordered French trawlers to leave the region.