Friday, 30 September 2011

Report indicates India’s shores danger zone for turtles

A recent study by an environmental group, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, has identified the 11 most threatened sea turtle populations from around the world. And five of these so-called danger zones for sea turtles are in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles, which nest on Indian shores, are an endangered species and there was a drive by environmentalists against the poaching and killing of these sea reptiles. The study also reveals that the turtles face other dangers.

“The most significant threats across all of the threatened populations are fisheries bycatch, the accidental catch of sea turtles by fishermen targeting other species and direct harvest of turtles or their eggs for food or turtle shell material for commercial use,” the report said.

This report may need to be taken seriously by India’s environmental bodies. While some high visibility animal projects like those for tigers in India have gained some success, the same cannot be said of any drive to preserve or sustain marine life on India’s coastlines. Poaching and killing of protected wildlife is known to be rampant on India’s shores. And perhaps environmental officials can’t do much along with the Coast Guard, given there may be bigger threats like smuggling and militant infiltration through the sea.

But something needs to be done and fast. In spite of repeated warnings by wildlife activists, reports like these expose India’s position and lack of seriousness in tackling marine pollution, unchecked fishing and poaching, and protection of marine life.

Leopard Skins, Bear Gall Bladder Seized in Uttarakhand

New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS): Two leopard skins, the gall bladder of a Himalayan black bear and other animal derivatives were seized by authorities in Uttarakhand, an NGO said Friday.

Uttarakhand Police made the seizures Thursday with help from the NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).

In Dehradun, one leopard skin was seized and two people were arrested. Two more leopard skins, a gall bladder of a Himalayan black bear, the musk pod of a musk deer, and other items were seized in Sukhi Dhang. One person has been arrested in this case, the NGO said in a statement.

Leopard, musk deer and the Himalayan black bear are protected under Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, the country's highest protection given to wild animals.

A total of 136 cases of leopard poaching were reported in India this year, of which 51 cases were recorded in Uttarakhand. Last year, 180 cases were reported in the country.

Indian state sets up law to protect cow

NEW DELHI, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- The western Indian state of Gujarat legislative assembly has unanimously cleared a bill to control the transportation of cattle within the state and outside to protect the cow, a holy animal in Hindu religion, says China's Xinhua news agency citing a report in The Times of India Thursday.

The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2011, specifically prevents the transportation of cow, the calf of a cow, a bull or a bullock.
The bill makes it obligatory for anyone wanting to transport the animal to obtain a permit from a new authority to be set up. The transporter will have to show that he is ferrying bovines only for agricultural or animal husbandry purpose.

States agriculture minister Dileep Sanghani said Wednesday that anyone violating the proposed law will not only face seizure of the animals and vehicles in which they are sought to be transported, but also up to seven-year imprisonment and a fine up to 50,000 rupees (US$1,000).

Now 7 years jail term for cow slaughter in Gujarat

Ahmadabad: Those who will involve in cow slaughter in Gujarat have to pay very heavy price. The state government has enacted an extremely tough measures to deal with all those involve in cow slaughter. The state assembly passed a bill in this regard on Tuesday.

According to the provisions of the bill,anybody taking cow for the purpose of slaughter would face seven years jail term.

While presenting the Gujarat Animal preservation Bill 2011,the state agricultural minister Dilip Sanghani said that the new bill will give ample teeth to law agencies to deal sternly with those who kill cow. The bill was even supported by the congress.

2 more bills passed, Gujarat Assembly session ends
The two-day monsoon session of the state assembly concluded on Tuesday with the passing of two bills — the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2011, and the Bombay Inams (Kutch Area) Abolition (Repeal) Bill, 2011.

The session started at 8.30am and continued till 3pm. However, it was not that lively as it was on Monday. There were not many exciting questions asked and Congress MLAs didn't seem to be in mood to create any storm. Agriculture and animal husbandry minister Dileep Sanghani presented the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2011 in the House.

After discussion, the bill was passed unanimously. Leader of the opposition Shaktisinh Gohil said in his speech that the state government had been compelled to bring in the amendment bill because of pressure from Maldhari community and religious saints and leaders. "The government should look into the roots of the issue of cow slaughter. The government should take the grazing lands back, which have been given to its favourite people almost for free, and give it back to people associated with animal husbandry and also Maldhari community. People are compelled to sell their cattle because of helplessness to feed the animals, as there are no natural sources like grazing land," he said.

From the BJP, Radhanpur MLA Shankar Chaudhary, Gadhada MLA Atmaram Parmar, Jethabhai Bharwad and Mafat Purohit took part in the discussion. From the Congress, Ramsinh Parmar and other MLAs participated in the discussion.

GPCC president and Porbandar MLA Arjun Modhwadia also spoke on the bill. He said, "Earlier, those who are now sitting in the ruling government had staged protests to save the cow, but when their government was in power in the Centre during 1999-2004, nobody bothered about bringing a national level bill in Parliament on the issue. On the contrary, they had promoted the meat export."

He further said, "Even the Britishers had made rules to provide 40 acres of grazing land per 100 animals but today there is no space for the animals to even stand. This government has given the land, which was identified for animal hostel by the Britishers in 1904 near Sanand, to the Tatas. The government should protect the Indian culture of cow worshipping."

Sanghani, in his reply, said: "The government is committed to prosecuting those involved in cow slaughter. We will never let anyone go after committing such an act. As far as the issue of promoting meat exports is concerned, I would say that it is the UPA government, which is imposing ban on cotton export and giving subsidies to encourage meat export."

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Bitten, JNU blind students want dogs out

NEW DELHI: The problem of stray dogs on Jawaharlal Nehru University campus is growing from bad to worse. After several blind students were bitten by dogs, a group of such students took out a protest march on Monday and presented a memorandum to the vice-chancellor asking for an urgent solution to the problem.

Sudhanshu Shekhar from the Centre for Linguistics says that the group is asking for a complete removal of stray dogs from the campus. "In the past two years the number of strays has gone up manifold. Blind students use canes and the dogs get aggressive on seeing the sticks. While moving around on the campus such students often step on the dogs following which the animals bite them in retaliation. We organized a public debate on the issue recently, and several people have supported our cause," Shekhar said.

Vice-chancellor S K Sopory said the problem was genuine and that the authorities were looking at various options. "The dogs have been around on the campus for several years now, but the varsity authorities have not taken any step to check their numbers. We have now approached the MCD and are talking to other agencies for a solution. While taking up measures to check their population, we have to keep in mind the strong lobby of dog lovers in JNU. We do not want to harm the animals and will take everyone on board before taking a decision. Sterilization of dogs is one of the options. As a temporary measure we have earmarked certain areas where the stray dogs can be fed," he said.

Medical officials on the campus say that an average of 1-2 dog bite cases are reported each day. "There are several animal lovers on the campus, but the safety of students is also important. We do not want to harm the dogs. Human intervention in feeding them should be minimal, and they should not be permitted in areas of dense habitation," said another student.

Army blames Ahmedabad civic body for animal menace at airport

Army officials have blamed the slums, Hanuman temple and the butcheries outside the cantonment for the menace of the rise in number of monkeys, birds and dogs on the airport runway. The officials' reaction came following a government notice to the army regarding the same.

The notice had directed the cantonment in Sahibaugh area of the city to carry out efficient garbage collection, close down the abattoirs and trim the trees adjacent to the airport wall. The notice had stated that these things were responsible for the increase in the numbers of monkeys, birds and dogs on the runway at Ahmedabad airport.

An army official, on condition of anonymity, said the resolution of the problem lies with the Gujarat government and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation(AMC).

"We have issued several notices to authorities of the Hanuman temple. The temple is the reason why the numbers of monkeys have increased in the area as the devotees feed the animals," the official said.
"We have requested the AMC to capture and relocate all monkeys in the cantonment," the official said. A legal notice should be issued to the authorities of the temple to curb this problem.

The army officials have been continuously writing to the AMC to capture the stray dogs living on the outskirts of cantonment. "The government should direct the AMC officials to immediately act on the several requests made by the army," the official said.

The officials also blamed the slums and unorganised colonies mushrooming outside the airport for the bird menace. "Dead animals, meat-shops, fish markets, roof-top accumulated garbage and inefficient waste disposal in civil areas should be the prime concern of the government of Gujarat," the official mentioned.

The official had also requested that government undertake a ground visit and accordingly the army will co-operate with it.

PETA appeals for vegetarian stamps

India should be proud to be known as the birthplace of vegetarianism, says PETA.

Just in time for Mahatma Gandhi's birthday (2nd October), World Vegetarian Day (1st October) and Vegetarian Awareness Month (October), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has sent an application to the philately division of the Department of Posts urging the agency to issue a national stamp honouring the country's strong vegetarian heritage.

India has the highest population of vegetarians of any country in the world. In a letter accompanying the application for the proposed postal stamp - which shows three sets of two leaves each and reads 'Vegetarian India', PETA points out that India is considered by many to be the birthplace of vegetarianism and that adopting a vegetarian diet is the best way to protect one's health, animals and the environment.

"Vegetarianism is catching on in countries around the world, and Indians should be proud that it all started right here", says PETA India campaign coordinator and nutritionist Bhuvaneshwari Gupta. "This stamp would remind people every day that they can help stop animal abuse, slow the production of gases that cause climate change and keep themselves fit and trim by simply going vegetarian."

Studies show that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than meat-eaters do and are far less likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer and obesity. People with type 2 diabetes (which is a growing problem in India) have been able to significantly control the disease and lose weight by switching to a vegan diet. Research also shows that, on average, vegetarians and vegans tend to live six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters do.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Exotic meat consumption catching on

Not all exotic animals whose flesh is consumed in Assam and elsewhere in the Northeast are killed. Many are run over by trains and speeding vehicles - NH37 for instance skirts Kaziranga National Park - while some are bundles of flesh left behind by poachers interested in horn (rhino), tusk (elephant), hide (tiger, leopard and deer), bile (bear) or musk (deer).

In certain cases, carnivores are lynched and eaten to avenge the killing of cattle. Some villagers of Koibartagaon in eastern Assam's Sivasagar district were booked for eating an eight-month-old leopard some time ago.
"Elephants, rhinos, leopards, monkeys, civets, monitor lizards, snakes, porcupines … people who would never touch even pork or beef are now going for such exotic meat. Rhinos that stray from Kaziranga to certain tribal areas in Lakhimpur and Sonitpur districts are eaten fairly regularly after poachers do their job. Some tribes have traditionally eaten certain wild animals, not all, but even non-tribal people are partaking of such meat," said Firoz Ahmed of green group Aaranyak.

Lakhimpur deputy commissioner Anwaruddin Choudhury, who is also a wildlife specialist, said the trend was catching on in other parts of Assam too.

"People in eastern Assam, bordering Nagaland, do not hesitate to eat rare monkeys and other creatures these days," he said.

A few months ago, villagers in Karbi Anglong hacked a female elephant and its calf run down by a train. Elephants are killed in Meghalaya too, their meat sun-dried and smuggled out to Southeast Asia via Bangladesh.
But principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Suresh Chand insisted the instances of eating wild animals were rare. "Our officials and NGOs are creating awareness," he told HT.

Wildlife activists, however, said forest officials have been playing down the issue. "In areas where free exotic meat is available, chicken and mutton selling at R200-300 a kg seldom serve as snacks with alcoholic binges.
There is a lack of coordination between the district authorities, forest departments and the Centre's Wildlife Crime Bureau, whose job it is to punish people killing wildlife for food, if not to trade body parts," said Azam Siddiqui, of Animal Welfare Board of India.

Man-Animal Conflicts in India

Man-animal conflicts are common in various parts of the country. Incidents of man-animal conflict are reported from States/Union Territories of the country. In India, wild elephants probably kill far more people than tiger, leopard or lion. But, surprisingly, human conflict involving leopard draws great amount of public attention compared to other animals. Other carnivores – tigers, lions and wolves which have been known for causing a large number of human deaths in the past, are now mostly restricted in range and their impact is not as widespread as that of the leopard. The Government is giving highest priority to mitigate the problem. It supplements the financial resources available with the States/ Union Territory Governments for the purpose by providing limited funds under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of 'Project Tiger', 'Project Elephant' and 'Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats'. Payment of ex-gratia to the victims of wild animals is the responsibility of the concerned State/ Union Territory Governments. Animals like elephant, tiger, leopard, wild dog, monkey, wild boar; Nilgai, bear, sambar deer etc. are major animals involved in  human-animal conflict in India.

 Seriousness of Man-Animal Conflict in India 

In India, man-animal conflict is seen across the country in a variety of forms, including monkey menace in the urban areas, crop raiding by ungulates and wild pigs, depredation by elephants, and cattle and human killing by tigers and leopards.

Damage to agricultural crops and property, killing of livestock and human beings are some of the worst forms of man-animal conflict.

The increase in man-animal conflict is likely due to the greater resilience and adaptability of wild animals in face of their shrinking habitats, which allow them to live successfully close to human habitation.

            Degradation of habitats, depletion of the natural prey base, changing crop patterns, suitability of man modified habitats to wild animals, presence of stray dogs and cattle in forest fringe areas etc are other reasons. Crops like sugarcane and tea estates are reported to provide excellent cover for wild animals.

As per Elephant Census held in 2007-08, estimated population of Elephant in India is 27669-27719 (Mid value 27694).

In India, wild elephants probably kill far more people than tiger, leopard or lion. But, surprisingly, human conflict involving leopard draws great amount of public attention compared to other animals. Other carnivores – tigers, lions and wolves which have been known for causing a large number of human deaths in the past, are now mostly restricted in range and their impact is not as widespread as that of the leopard.

The Government   has initiated a number of steps in this regard including the following:
1. Providing assistance to State Governments for improvement of habitat to augment food and water availability and to reduce movement of animals from the forests to the habitations.
2. Encouraging State Governments for creation of a network of Protected Areas and wildlife corridors for conservation of wildlife.
3. Awareness programmes to sensitize the people about the Do’s and Don’ts to minimize conflicts.
4. Training programmes for forest staff and police to address the problems of human-wildlife conflicts.
5. Issuance of guidelines to the State Governments for management of human-leopard conflict.
6. Providing technical and financial support for development of necessary infrastructure and support facilities for immobilization of problematic animals through tranquilization, their translocation to the rescue centres or release back to the natural habitats.
7. Providing assistance to State Governments for construction of boundary walls and solar fences around the sensitive areas to prevent the wild animal attacks.
8. Supplementing State Government resources for payment of ex-gratia to the people for injuries and loss of life in case of wild animal attacks.
9. Empowering the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State/Union Territories to permit hunting of such problematic animals under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
10. Providing assistance to the State Governments for eco-development activities in villages around Protected Areas to elicit cooperation of local community in management of the Protected Areas.
10. Providing assistance to the State Governments for eco-development activities in villages around Protected Areas to elicit cooperation of local community in management of the Protected Areas.
11. Encouraging and supporting involvement of the research and academic institutions and leading voluntary organizations having expertise in managing human -wildlife conflict situations.

Some devices of Information Technology, viz., radio collars with Very High Frequency, Global Positioning System and Satellite uplink facilities, are being used by the research institutions including Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, State Forest Departments and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to monitor the movement of Lions, Tigers, Elephants, Olive Ridley Turtles, and other wild animals to understand their movements and their use pattern of the habitat.     

Assistance Provided by MoEF to Mitigate Man-Animal conflicts

Under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes, MoEF has been providing financial and technical assistance to the State/UT Governments for the conservation and management of wildlife including for activities aimed at mitigating man-animal conflicts.

Such activities include the creation of appropriate animal barriers ( solar, barbed wire and chain link fencing, trenches, walls etc.).

Protected Areas and Elephant reserves 

There are 661 Protected Areas in the country covering around 4.8% geographical areas. There are 100 National Parks, 514 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 43 Conservation Reserves and 4 Community Reserves in the country. State wise details are placed at Annexure I. At present, 27 Elephant Reserves (ERs) extending over about 60,000 sq km have been formally notified by various State Governments. State-wise details of elephant reserves in India are placed at Annexure II.

Outlay in 11th Five Year Plan

Approved Outlay
Eleventh Plan Outlay
2007 -08
2008 – 09
2009 -10
2010- 11
2011 -12

Project Tiger
Project Elephant

Orissa flood: 41 die, many villages submerged

PUNE: The International Fund for Animal Welfare in partnership with the Wildlife Trust of India has initiated relief operations in the state of Orissa, an area that has borne the brunt of the incessant rains of recent weeks.
The heavy monsoon rains that have battered South Asia for weeks have caused widespread flooding and left millions of people and animals displaced. "Thousands of animals have been left out in the open under the rain or scorching sun with no help at all. our main goal right now is to get food into the hardest-hit areas as quickly as possible," said Dick Green IFAW Manager for Disasters.

The floods in Orissa have already claimed at least 41 human lives. About 4897 villages have been submerged across 19 districts and 2.2 million people are still marooned in coastal areas. 1667 livestock including cattle, goats and poultry is dead. With continuing rain forecasted, the disaster will likely linger for several weeks.

"The flood relief team is reaching out to remote and cut off villages in the most affected areas. Most of the animals brought to the veterinarians are very weak, they have lost their body condition to starvation. High incidents of respiratory ailments and diarrhea are being reported," said N V K Ashraf, Chief Veterinarian, WTI.

Working with local partners APOWA (Action for Protection of Wild Animals) and AMRF (Arupa Mission Research Foundation) through a collaborative Emergency Relief Network (ERN), a relief project has been initiated that is distributing feed and providing veterinary assistance to thousands of impacted animals.

Five veterinarians and more than 20 volunteers are spread across the districts of Puri and Kendrapara attending to these animals besides visiting homes and advising people on hygiene. 9.5 metric tonnes of animal feed has been distributed. Health camps are being organised and shelters built in places where the situation in grave.

IFAW Feeds Starving Animals in Pakistan and India

YARMOUTH PORT, Mass., Sept. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The heavy monsoon rains that have battered South Asia for weeks has caused widespread flooding and left millions of people and animals displaced. In response to the disaster, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - ) initiated relief operations in southern Pakistan and eastern India, two areas that have borne the brunt of the incessant rains of recent weeks. 

"Thousands of animals have been left out in the open under the rain or in the scorching sun with no help at all," said Dr. Dick Green IFAW Manager for Disasters. "Our main goal right now is to get food into the hardest-hit areas as quickly as possible." 

In Pakistan, the rains have caused widespread flooding primarily in the southern province of Sindh affecting over 5 million people. The Government of Pakistan announced that 64,000 animals had perished during the bad weather; however, media reports indicate that over half a million animals including cattle, water buffaloes, horses, donkeys, goats and sheep may have already died and countless more remain vulnerable to starvation and disease outbreaks. Millions of flood victims are entirely dependent on the upcoming harvest season and animals play a vital role by plowing the fields. 

Pirabhu Lal, a 31 year-old peasant lost his home during the floods and took refuge with his family in a nearby farm. "I have three children and 21 animals left, I lost my five goats. We have no drinking water, no toilet, no firewood. My wife and children have malaria and I spend all day in search for food for the family and my animals. My wife walks three miles to collect some drinking water for the family and animals."
Like with the floods of 2010, IFAW has partnered again with local humanitarian group Ravi Foundation to conduct assessments and initiate relief operations in Pakistan. 

Elsewhere, in India's eastern state of Orissa, the monsoon floods have already claimed at least 41 human lives and 2.2 million people are still marooned in coastal areas. IFAW is working with local partner Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) to initiate a relief operation that is distributing feed and providing veterinary assistance to thousands of impacted animals. 

"Our flood relief team is reaching out to remote and cut off villages in the most affected areas," said Dr. NVK Ashraf, Chief Veterinarian, WTI. "Most of the animals brought to the health camps are very weak and they have lost their body condition to starvation. High incidents of respiratory ailments and diarrhea are being reported." 

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit . Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Images are available at .

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cutting dog's tail can land you in jail

NEW DELHI: Just let your dog's tail be. Cutting it could land you behind bars, as the mutilation of pets for cosmetic reasons has been made an offence.

An advisory sent out by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to veterinary councils , colleges, kennel clubs and other institutions likely to carry out such procedures states that practices like docking of tails and cropping of ears will now be punishable with a fine, or imprisonment, or both.

The AWBI acted on a Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations petition. Traditionally, Doberman, Boxer, Great Dane and Cocker Spaniel pups have been subjected to tail docking, but veterinarians say there is no reason for this practice to continue.

"Earlier, it was believed the tail would be a hindrance when the dogs went hunting, but now docking is done for purely cosmetic purposes. Many owners do not even know why they do this," said Dr Kunal Dev Sharma, veterinarian surgeon at Max Vets Dog and Cat Hospital.

"It all started with Kennel Club of India publishing an article in its magazine, Indian Kennel Gazette, that promoted tail-docking and earcropping practices. Our inhouse research showed these do not have a therapeutic value and were solely for cosmetic purposes," said Khushboo Gupta, media coordinator of FIAPO. Kennel Club of India said it would respond to the charge after a couple of days. 

Just let your dog's tail be. Cutting it could land you behind bars, as the mutilation of pets for cosmetic reasons has been made an offence.

The AWBI advisory states: "The practice of non-therapeutic tail docking and ear cropping is seen in the light of mutilation, which amounts to cruelty to animals as per Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, and is, therefore , a punishable offence." Section 11 of the Act makes violations punishable with a fine of up to Rs 100.

"The violator can also be charged under section 428 of IPC that talks about maiming of animals," said Anjali Sharma , member and legal advisor , AWBI. This section allows for a jail term of up to two years.