The Powerful Mechanics of Undercover Investigations in Building Up a Movement


“No one must shut his eyes and regard as nonexistent the suffering of which he spared himself the sight.” (Albert Schweitzer)

The suffering of animals in dairies, in research labs, in homes, in slaughterhouses, in factory farms, is more often than not overlooked by the public. In the chaos of city life, most people are unaware about what happens right in front of their eyes, let alone what happens behind closed doors: Millions of chickens slaughtered for food, or suffering a living death in battery cages. Captive animals used for “entertainment,” saddled with physical and psychological trauma. Lakhs of dairy cattle forced to suffer in deplorable conditions. The list is just endless…

The unfair, unethical and largely unlawful treatment of so many sentient beings puts an important responsibility on our comparatively privileged shoulders. It is our responsibility to pull aside the cloak of invisibility that these suffering animals are unjustly hidden beneath. A powerful way to bring this reality to the forefront is in exploring and optimizing the power of undercover investigations. With the help of hidden cameras, microphones and a thirst for justice, there are many brave undercover investigators among us who are changing animal rights across India.

Only when we document wrongdoing and injustice toward animals in the form of critical evidence, can we raise public support for institutional and regulatory changes. Time and again, animal rights campaigns have achieved victory by sprouting change in public opinion and policies, thanks to revelations from undercover investigations. It is, however, necessary for any successful undercover operation to procure explicit (often graphic) evidence accurately documenting allegations of abuse.

A classic case of success has been FIAPO’s End Circus Suffering campaign, which is working alongside supporting organisations by inspecting and shooting video of the atrocities committed in Indian circuses. The result? Seventeen circuses so far have been legally disallowed from performing with animals.

In another example, FIAPO’s investigation of Indian dairies revealed utmost cruelty and various unlawful practices. The campaign continues to promote mass awareness, causing a substantial increase in the number of vegetarians and vegans in the past few years.

In the case of Jallikattu, video evidence helped in getting the practice banned back in 2014. While the ban has since been lifted, the reality of the cruel bull running “sport” is at least out in the open for debates.

Once public awareness has been triggered by an investigation, it is only a matter of time before outrage snowballs into positive outcomes for animals.

There lies a world of hidden realities waiting to be uncovered, with the aid of technological tools like camera lenses and microphones. It is time we raise our voices to question the barbaric practices that have been part of the system for way too long. We have waited long enough, and so have the animals in suffering. The time for action is now.

If you want to do an undercover investigation in your city and be the wingman for social justice, we can help you calculate risks and share our methodology. We await your e-mail at

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FIAPO is India's apex animal rights organization. As the collective voice of the animal rights movement in India, FIAPO is the catalyst that protects the interests and rights of animals on local and national levels - through education, research, lobbying, mobilization, networking, training and direct action. Created for the movement, by the movement, FIAPO is India’s only national federation. It has over 80 members and over 200 supporter organizations across the country. Click to see author's profile.

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