Monday, 31 October 2011

Juhapura rioting: Four arrested

AHMEDABAD: The city police arrested four persons in connection with attack on police team over illegal slaughtering in Juhapura and rioting on Saturday night. Search for other assailants is on in the nearby areas. The investigators said they found four more calves from an open plot on Sunday, during the search operation.

On Saturday night, the city police control room got a message about an illegal slaughter house operating near Sanklitnagar. The message was relayed to the Vejalpur police station from where a team of ten personnel reached on the spot and found 14 calves in captivity. The police team freed the calves and loaded them in a vehicle and was leaving the spot when a group of local residents stopped the vehicle and started pelting stones.

A back-up party was called upon when the officials realized that the situation had gone out of hands. The irate mob torched a vehicle and continued the attack on policemen. Five police personnel were injured in the incident and two of them severely. All the five personnel were rushed to the VS Hospital. A team of city crime branch and senior city police officials rushed to the spot and started combing operation.

"During the operation, we got the name of the main accused in the case, Iqbal Shaikh. Search for him is on. Meanwhile, we arrested Abdul Pirubhai, Yunus Pirubhai, Ibrahim Shaikh and Mohammed Sharif Shaikh. We have charged them with assault on government official and rioting. Search for other accused is on. The area around Sanklitnagar was combed on Sunday with five teams," said J H Jalu, inspector of Vejalpur police station.

P C Joshi, assistant commissioner of police, A Division, told TOI that the incident has been taken seriously by the city police. "On an average, we report two to three illegal slaughter cases in Vejalpur police station. Our personnel were doing their duty when they were assaulted. We have asked the local residents to cooperate with us on the matter," he said. He added that the assailants will be identified soon.

Joshi added that the search teams have found four calves during search operations. "A team found four calves in captivity near Royal Akbar Tower on Sunday. We believe they might have been stolen by the same group that runs the busted illegal slaughterhouse," he said.

Public keeping vigil on violators
The animal rights activists and Gauvansh Pratipalak Sangh members say that more often than not, it is members of public who keep a vigil on suspicious people and prevent slaughter of cows and calves in the city. "As festivity is near, the number of animals brought to the city for slaughter has risen. We collect information and also keep an eye on suspicious vehicles. Many areas in the city run illegal slaughterhouses that are difficult to detect. Most of the time, it is on the outskirts of the city near highway as it provides easy escape at the time of raids," said a volunteer. Activists were recently beaten up in Dariapur when they tried to stop a vehicle carrying calves.

Stringent law does not deter poachers
The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill 2011 was passed a week ago after the state governor cleared the bill. The law covers people transporting cows for the illegal act, with a maximum punishment of seven years in jail and a fine of up to Rs 50,000. The vehicles used to transport the cows will also be seized. The law prohibits killing of cow, their transportation, sales and purchase of beef. Gujarat is the only state in India having such a law.

The law, however, has not deterred the animal poachers as the city police has not yet applied the law and have booked violators under sections of IPC. After passing the bill, the city witnessed seizure of a total of 30 cows and calves from various areas of the city, said police officials.

PETA India Asks Lady Gaga To Don An Animal Friendly Dress

Lady Gaga‘s infamous meat dress may have looked delicious to the world’s blood-hungry omnivores, but as she gears up to perform in one of the world’s most vegetarian-heavy countries, animal rights activists are asking her to give peas a chance. (Wokka wokka.)

In a letter to Gaga’s publicist, the Indian branch of PETA (which, due to cultural norms, is somewhat less offensive than the American branch) asked Mommy Monster to let them make her a dress entirely out of lettuce.
“If she agrees, we’ll make her a dress entirely of lettuce and held together by pins and threads. It will be a full length gown, and we’ll make sure it looks sexy,” said Sachin Bangera of PETA India. [Of course they will. -JP]
The dress would be constructed leaf by leaf on the singer’s body, taking some five to six hours.
“Someone will be on hand to spray the lettuce with water so that it doesn’t wilt,” Bangera added.
The organization also asked Gaga to go vegetarian for the duration of her visit, which wouldn’t be hard, as many regions of India are known for having the tastiest vegetarian food ever. This might seem pointless to many, as Lady Gaga clearly has no intention of giving up meat, but I guess there’s a chance some people might get over the childish idea that plant-based meals are gross if they see one of the world’s biggest pop stars enjoying them. (Because Lady Gaga has never enjoyed anything gross before.)

This actually isn’t the first time someone has tried to get Lady Gaga to wear vegetables on her body; famous vegan Ellen Degeneres presented her with such an outfit when she had her on her show last year:

If the world’s most beloved gay rights activist can’t get Gaga to wear her veggies, I’m not sure how much of a chance the world’s most hated animal rights organization stands.

High prices of goats in city may dampen Bakri Eid spirit

MUMBAI: Low production and rise in transportation costs have led to high prices of goats before Eid-ul-Azha or Bakri Eid, the Muslim festival of animal sacrifice, which falls on November 7.

Community leaders feel the rise in price of goats may dampen the spirit of the festival as many families will either cut down on the number of goats they buy for Bakri Eid or forgo the sacrifice completely this year.
Goat traders at the Deonar slaughterhouse, the biggest goat market for Bakri Eid in Mumbai, complained of "poor" business so far this year. "A goats weighing 20 kg costs between Rs 12,000-15,000. Due to heavy rain in Rajasthan, MP and UP, which supply a substantial number of goats to Mumbai, production was severely affected," said Ashfaque Babalal, vice-president of Maharashtra Sheep and Goat Brokers' Association. Babalal added that till date, about 1 lakh goats had reached Deonar, but sale was slow due to high prices. It may pick up as the three-day festival nears.

Organizations representing the Qurieshi community (meat sellers) alleged harassment not just by animal rights activists and but some members of Hindutva organizations like the Bajrang Dal. "Many animals are confiscated even before they reach Mumbai and these are seldom returned to traders," alleged Khalid Qureishi, Mumbai president of All India Jamiatul Qureish. "Every year we protest, but the problem persists," he added.

On Friday, a delegation of Muslim clerics and activists met CM Prithviraj Chavan and complained that trucks carrying goats were being stopped by activists. "We requested the CM to ask authorities to adopt leniency while enforcing different sections of the cruelty to animals Act. He promised to do the needful," said M A Khalid, who was part of the delegation.

"While Muslims must respect the sentiments of Hindus when sacrificing animals, it will be a denial of our constitutional rights if we are stopped from practising our religious rituals," said Sami Bubere, a member of the delegation

Tharoor’s latest—why not a no-meat day?

The government is faced with an unusual request from its own member of Parliament — Shashi Tharoor. He wants the government to declare January 12 as National No Meat Day. It has created a debate within the government on whether it should make such a pronouncement or not. Tharoor’s claim that being vegetarian can help fight against climate change has arguments both in favour and against it. 

Those in favour say that every year animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tonnes of methane, which has 21 times more potential of causing global warming than carbon dioxide. Meat consumption has increased by over 50% in the last few decades, making it the highest human related cause for climate change.  

But, the argument against turning vegetarian is that it would create an imbalance between human and animal presence leading to more methane emission than before. A World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report in 2010 said that meat substitutes are highly processed, often requiring large amounts of energy to produce, leading to higher emission of global warming causes gases.

Tharoor, who was former minister of state for external affairs, believes that turning vegetarian like him is good for environment and has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare January 12 as No Meat Day to promote vegetarianism.  

Environment ministry is not adverse to declaring no meat day for two reasons. Firstly, it can showcase India’s positive approach towards climate change and secondly, it promotes ministry’s objective of promoting animal welfare. But, the bigger question will have to be answered by agriculture ministry, which promotes poultry in a big way.

Stray dogs culled at auto plant

CHENNAI: Seven stray dogs were allegedly shot and killed by gypsies hired by an automobile factory in Oragadam, ahead of the opening of their new plant next week. 

According to Blue Cross of India officials, the carcasses were later buried about 50 feet away from the fence of the company’s premises. “Reliable sources in the company informed us that four gypsies with firearms shot down these animals in the morning,” said Dawn Williams, General Manager of the Blue Cross, an NGO.

“On reaching the site, we found a tractor driver attempting to dispose of the remains inside a deep mud pit,” said Williams. Another volunteer with the team claimed that they found animal carcasses at the bottom of the pit covered with garbage. Raviraj (name changed), an employee of the company, who tipped off the BCI, said: “Stray dogs have always roamed the factory premises. Now that the management is preparing to open a new plant next month, we learnt that they had paid narikuruvas (gypsies) to shoot these dogs.”

Due to the heavy rains during the day, the Blue Cross team could not conduct extensive searches. However, Williams said, “These animal bodies will be taken to the Veterinary College at Vepery for post-mortem as proof of this cruelty.” Following a police complaint, an FIR has been filed at Oragadam police station, police officials confirmed. No action has been taken so far.

Circus fire raises concerns about safety of animals

MUMBAI: The fire that broke out at the New Golden Circus in Chunabhatti on Friday night due to a stray firecracker from a neighbouring slum, has brought into focus the issue of safety and well-being of performing animals.

Animal activists who had rushed to the spot near Priyadarshini Park told TOI that it was fortunate that none of the four horses and five performing dogs were injured in the fire. However, they alleged that the animals were "poorly maintained" at the circus.

Chembur-based veterinarian, Dr Deepa Katyal, who checked on the animals at the spot, said, "The horses looked weak and terrified and the five performing dogs were kept in a small enclosure. In fact, one of the female dogs is pregnant." She added that the activists gave water to the horses to quench their thirst and calm them down after the fire.

Animal welfare officer of Plant and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS), Sunish Subramanian, said: "It was the first performing night of the circus when the fire engulfed the canopy of the tent. Though no one was injured, but more care should be taken by the circus management and animal welfare authorities."
The secretary of Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA), Lt Colonel J C Khanna, said: "I have asked my inspectors to check if one of the circus dogs is pregnant and if there is any lapse in the upkeep of animals. So far, we have gathered that the circus organizers had permission from Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to run the show."

Khanna said there were no wild animals like elephants at the circus as the management did not have permission from wildlife authority. "The canopy was not fire-proof, which led to the spread of fire. My officials will visit this circus as well as Rambo Circus in Bandra for inspections and preventive checks daily."

Activist Bhavin Gathani of the Goregaon-based NGO, Karuna Parivar said, "Circuses that employ animals should not be allowed in the city, due to such fire hazards in congested environment . In 2005, several seals of Russian Circus died in a fire in Andheri."

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Blind hippo in India's ‘Jumbo Circus’ needs help!

A blind hippo named 'Raja' in India is in trouble and needs your help. The hippo, along with other animals, is being abused in a circus at Panipat in Haryana, called “Jumbo Circus.”  Both the hippos’ eyes and teeth need immediate veterinary treatment. The animal was found without care in a congested box with dirty water and with no space for exercise or movement during the visit of the Delhi Zoo Veterinarian. The veterinarian was deputed by the Central Zoo Authority of India based on the complaint lodged by Naresh Kadyan, the founder Chairman of the People for Animals (PFA) Haryana, Master Trainer to the Animal Welfare Board of India, and representative of International Organization for Animal Protection (OIPA) in India. When confronted by Kadyan, the Manager of the circus sent him away and he was not allowed to be present during the Veterinarian inspection.

Miss Sukanya Kadyan, Director Events of the OIPA in India is demanding that a Medical Board be allowed to immediately inspect all of the performing animals, including an eye and teeth surgeon. In addition to the hippo, Kadyan saw exotic birds performing without any records, which requires investigation by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau. He also saw cats and dogs inbreeding, which goes against government legislation, as well as the docking of tails of dogs, which is a criminal offense.  Also, elephants are being abused by the iron ankush during performances, even though the use of the iron ankush is banned by the Rajasthan High Court (Jaipur Bench).

Kadyan from OIPA has filed grievances with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (Government of India), Animal Welfare Board of India, Central Zoo Authority of India, Chief Wildlife Warden of Haryana, the District Administration, the President of India’s Secretariat and the Government of Haryana and is currently awaiting action from these entities.  He has contacted them regarding the blatant violations of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 / CITES and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 made by Jumbo Circus.  Kadyan has requested the confiscation of all of these animals after legal action is taken against Jumbo Circus.

OIPA is asking that concerned animal advocates around the world sign a petition to the Indian authorities demanding that action be taken again the Managing Partners of Jumbo Circus for the violations of these Acts.  Specifically, the petition states:
“Where as Jumbo circus have many docked tails dogs, unregistered cats, Camels, horses, Elephants and blind hippo to perform, so all these animals may kindly be rescued and FIR against owners of the Jumbo circus stationed at Panipat in Haryana, adjoin g area of the National capital, may be lodged for the violation of the section 3, 11, 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 read with the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and 428-429 IPC. PFA Haryana – is ready to rehabilitate all rescued animals during court trials.”
Please help by signing the petition, and adding a personal comment to your signature. For more information about OIPA in India, visit their website, as well as People for Animals.

Spare a thought for animals this Diwali

New Delhi: This Diwali, as people celebrate with crackers, lights and a lot of noise, spare a thought for the poor animals cowering in the nearest corner. Animals get traumatised by the harsher side-effects of festivals, every year. And topping the list are firecrackers. With their heightened sense of hearing, animals often panic, get scared and run helter-skelter on hearing the noise. 

“Every year, countless companion animals disappear after Diwali firework displays. The terrified animals that flee the explosions often become disoriented and can’t find their way back home,” said Anuradha Srivastava, veterinarian and campaign coordinator, People for ethical treatment of animals (Peta) India. Peta advises society people and others to keep a lookout for abandoned animals and help them home. 

 Burns are the number one injuries suffered by most animals, says Dr (Col) JC Khanna, secretary, the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA). In addition, smoke causes irritation and infections, adding to the discomfort of the animals, particularly strays. “A regular supply of water is recommended, especially if pollution is high,” Khanna said. 

Abodh Aras of the Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) urged pet lovers to help strays who are in distress, by either feeding them water or keeping them in their homes till the noise dies down. “The animals calm down in human company. But you should be known to them and share a comfortable rapport with the animal,” Aras added. The same goes for pets too. Mufaddal Tambawala, who has a specially built aviary at his home that houses over 100 birds, said, “It’s important to feed them high levels of calcium and vitamins, since they refuse to eat food if scared.” 

Shutting windows and doors, and covering cages with blankets are the easiest solutions to drown out sound. “Pets should ideally be kept in a noise-proof room, with lights on so that sudden flares don’t scare them. In extreme cases, they should be taken to the vet and given sedatives to calm them down,” says Dr Hemant Thange, an avian veterinarian. As Srivastava suggests, “We want everybody to enjoy the festivities, including animals”.

The delectable diva

Supermodel, beauty pageant winner, VJ, animal rights crusader and popular anchor — Shamita Singha’s roster is an elaborate mix of stardom, glitz and passion. 

The delectable diva who made her debut in ’99 has since been hogging the limelight for her sexy bravado persona; be it a PETA activist or posing for bikini shoots with sister Mashoom. She opened up about her many pageants, Kingfisher calendar experience and relationships...

The big, bad world of modeling:

See, it can be a shallow, frivolous profession at times no doubt. But there’s always the good along with the bad- you just got to choose which path to take! Personally, though we’re judged for our external attributes, I’ve grown a lot internally and the financial stability I have obtained has changed my life.

Being a Kingfisher Calendar model:

I got to work with the best of photographers and designers during the shoot- it was literally a ‘killer’ experience posing in a swimsuit next to a 40-foot killer whale!

On being a beauty queen and winning the Miss Earth pageant:

It ranks among my best memories ever; participating on a platform of such magnitude was an honor in itself. I went on to be a semi-finalist at the international Miss Earth 2001 pageant competition too. The entire journey was exhilarating- full of promise, vision and heart.

Competition in new-age fashion:

I feel old because I’ve been modeling for more than a decade. But it’s a good thing that more models and designers are entering the industry now to represent India on a truly global stage.

Passion for PETA:

I’m strongly against animal cruelty and I am a trustee of the Animal Welfare Board of India. It motivated me to fund the Nature and Animal Care Organisation as well. I even posed on a bed of red chillies once for PETA’s “Spice Up your Life — Go vegetarian” campaign!”

Life as she knows it:

Walking the ramp for renowned designers, hosting shows on several networks, adverts with the likes of Abhishek Bachchan, editorial work for fashion magazines, advisor on haute lifestyle, interior décor, and fitness among a lot more. It’s a busy, busy life and I’m living every minute of it!

On Sister Mashoom Singha:

I’m so glad she’s followed in my footsteps and is a hot-shot personality in her own right now. Contrary to what many might think; we truly are the best of friends and share a terrific bond.

Relationships and family:
You gain some and you lose some. That’s the way it is in this world! But my family and friends have stuck by my career choice wholeheartedly throughout the ride; I owe a lot to their support.

Nagas fancy eating snakes, rats, squirrels, dogs, cats, spiders!

The Nagas eat anything that moves. They do not even spare insects and worms. But what they relish most is the meat of wild animals. Warriors as they are by nature, the Nagas love hunting, and the meat of wild animals fills them with great delight.

Rice is their staple food, which is taken with meat. The meat is mostly pork, beef and chicken, but it can also be snakes, snails, rats, squirrels, dogs, cats, mithuns, buffaloes, deer, spiders, birds, crabs, monkeys, bee larvae, shrimps, red ants, and almost everything that is wild. Elephants included. No part of an animal is wasted — even blood, skin and intestines are eaten. Occasionally, however, they let the skin be, and use it to make shields.

“We have feasts throughout the year and no festivity is complete without meat. We rear pigs, dogs, cats, chickens and buffaloes but the meat of wild animals is always preferred,” says K Sangtam, a Naga elder. “Hunting is something the Nagas have practiced for ages and it’s a matter of pride for a hunter if he has the highest number of kills,” he adds.

There are 16 recognised tribes and a number of sub-tribes of Nagas in Nagaland. They also have a sizeable population in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and eastern Myanmar. Their food habits are different from those of other tribals in the Northeast — both in terms of the animals they eat, and the style of cooking. They smoke their meat at home over a kitchen fire and apply axone (fermented soya bean) to create a pungent aroma in the dishes. Some love their meat with anishi (a
preparation made of dried yam leaves).

‘Frog is like chicken’
Most meat dishes are boiled with suitable ingredients and spices. Frogs, bee larvae and insects are cooked till dry (with ginger, garlic and chilly). Snail is cooked with a lot of chillies. For dog meat, the best spices are ginger, Naga pepper and dried red chillies. Meat is also cooked with lettuce and spinach leaves. Chilly, mostly ‘bhut jolokia or Naga mircha’, and bamboo shoot are equally popular.

Not all species of dogs, frogs, snails, worms and insects are eaten. The Nagas say frog meat tastes like chicken. The
‘Wednesday Bazaar’ in Dimapur is very dear to these tribals for the array of animals, insects and worms sold here. A dog is sold (alive) for Rs500-Rs600. Frogs and (river) snails cost Rs200-Rs250 a kg. The river snails, which are very small in size, are cooked with ‘daal’ and sucked. The bazaar teems with customers every week. The sellers are mostly locals and they deal in local fruits, animals, insects, worms, vegetables, traditional utensils, garments, ornaments, handicraft items, etc. Nagas from all walks of life — some from remote areas — come here for shopping.

I remember once eating a pork dish at a friend’s place in Dimapur. He is a Sumi (tribe) Naga and an inspector in Nagaland police. The Sumis are known to cook the best smoked meat dishes with axone. So, one day he called me home for lunch. He told me he had slaughtered a pig. I had eaten pork before but had never had it with axone. Initially, I was a bit hesitant as I did not like the smell. It stank. But once I got over the smell, I relished the dish. The riceI had with the meat was equally yummy.

Women can’t eat monkeys
On another trip to Dimapur, I got to taste a different pork dish at the residence of a journalist friend. It was cooked with spices and the blood of the animal. Honestly, I could not enjoy it as the thought that I was drinking (or rather, eating) blood made me uncomfortable. Generally, when an animal is slaughtered, the Nagas drain the blood into a big bowl, and use it in meat dishes once it turns cold. (The blood turns into a solid, paneer-like substance once it gets cold. It is then cut into pieces and used to prepare a curry.)

The Nagas have a taboo on consuming the meat of certain animals, as they fear the qualities of the creature will be transferred to the user. “We do not allow a woman to eat monkeys for we believe that will make her extravagant,” says Joseph Sumi, a professional. Despite the taboo, a lot of Naga women eat monkeys these days. Nagas, he says, do not allow a pregnant woman to eat bear meat since it is regarded a stupid animal. Sumi adds that tigers and leopards are also not eaten because of an old belief that man, tiger and spirit were all brothers at the beginning of creation.

The Nagas also believe that the meat of wild animals, insects and worms can cure a number of diseases. “The meat of a type of kingfisher, which we call stone bird, is very dear to us. The bird eats stones and there is a traditional belief that its meat is a panacea for renal diseases,” says Francis Lotha, a university student, adding, “Frog, snails and bee larvae are eaten when one is injured (believed to quicken the healing of skin and bones), local chickens and legs of pigs are eaten during pregnancy, and dog meat is believed to be a cure for pneumonia."

Eric Angami, a scribe, claims monkey meat gives one quick relief from extreme physical weakness or lethargy. “Believe me, it enlivens you,” he insists.“The marrows of stags and wild goats are believed to heal fractured bones faster, and an earthworm is taken to neutralise the venom of a snake bite,” says P Shimray, a lover of monkey meat. He adds, “Once my mother was bitten by a poisonous snake. She was writhing in pain. But she recovered within half an hour after being administered a fluid full of earthworms.”

James Angami, a teacher, says the elders encourage the youth to eat snakes in the belief that it makes them immune to the reptile’s venom. “Our food habits haven’t changed much over the years. We love meat as much as our forefathers did. The only difference is that we’ve learnt to use spices,” says Roland Ao, who has a weakness for snails. So would he love to eat the meat of a rhino? “Oh yes,” he smiles. “But sadaly we don’t get it here.”

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Filmmaker debuts elephant documentary at Missoula festival

The way that humans treat animals speaks as much to our cultural values as it does to the characteristics of the animals themselves. In the case of our treatment of elephants, filmmaker Klaus Reisinger believes the animals can speak for themselves.

That's the guiding philosophy behind "Life Size Memories," a two-hour documentary that received its world premiere screening Friday - and which will be screened again on Saturday and Sunday - at the CINE Film Festival in Missoula.

Shot and edited over the course of four years, "Life Size Memories" explores the lives of individual captive elephants in Burma, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. But unlike most documentarians, Reisinger approached the project with the aim of telling the story of the elephants with as few human words as possible.
"We didn't want talking people, because the elephant is the main character, so we wanted the elephant to do most of the talking," said Reisinger, a native of Austria who came to Missoula this week for the film's inaugural showing. "It's so easy to set someone up and ask them what they think and then fill the soundtrack with blah-blah narrative. But to go into the situation, understand it, and translate it into a sequence that's told in images that gives the same impact emotionally and intellectually, that's the challenge we set out to achieve."

Reisinger and his French filmmaking partner, Frédérique Lengaigne, are certainly accustomed to letting images speak for themselves. Both spent years as war-zone news photographers, shooting human chaos from Russia to Haiti to Rwanda.

But back in 1996, the two began a filmmaking project, documenting the complex situation faced by wild elephants in Burma, which were coming into increased conflict with farmers. The resulting film, "Elephant Power," was picked up and distributed by National Geographic.

Since then, the two have documented the lives of seafaring nomads off the coast of Burma, explored the trade in rare maral deer antler velvet in Siberia and Korea, and continued their work as photojournalists.
In 2006, the pair decided to revisit the elephants they had documented a decade ago - this time with a somewhat different goal. "We started taking life-sized portraits of elephants with a large-format camera, to be printed at exactly one-to-one scale," said Reisinger. "So we would take a photograph of the animal, and then measure it so that it could be printed exactly to size.

"Then, to go along with that, we also wanted to tell their individual biography of each elephant we photographed - what was his life story, what's his personality. So we interviewed people and got information for that as we went along photographing these elephants."

Amid that project, the two began filming as well, but this time with a more open-ended approach to their narrative."There's a narrative, but no spoken narrative," said Reisinger, noting that the film attempts to depict not only the conditions but also the pace of life for its subjects. "The point of the film is really to show that every animal - and we use elephants, but this is true for any animal - has a past, a biography, a history. Those are the elements that create an empathy for us, which is the foundation of conservation. If you don't get people's minds set on that, there's no way to get them to think about the cormorant or the weasel or the other animals that need protection."

After completing the film earlier this year, the two showed it to the sponsors who had underwritten the project. It was immediately picked up for theatrical and television distribution in Europe.

But before those debuts take place, Reisinger traveled across the Atlantic to Missoula for his first experience putting the film before the public.
He said he hopes that those who see the film here will find food for thought through its larger-than-life protagonists.

"We hope that the people should walk out and question their perceptions that they inherit, their previous prejudices," said Reisinger. "This is a film that doesn't answer any questions; it only asks questions and encourages people to think. This is not about learning or explaining; it's about trying to think differently."

Big-screen elephants

"Life Size Memories," a film about elephants in Burma, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka, will be screened as part of the CINE International Film Festival on Saturday at 2 p.m. and again on Sunday at 7 p.m. Both screenings take place at the Roxy Theatre, 718 S. Higgins Ave.

Screenings of other films take place all day Saturday and Sunday, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. both days, as well as a 5 p.m. session on Sunday. On Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m., an awards ceremony and reception will take place at the Loft, located at 119 W. Main St.; that event is free and open to the public. Tickets to single screening sessions are $3 for youth 12 and under, $5 for students and $7 for adults; daily passes are $30. For more information, visit

Gir's animals sensed danger minutes before quake

AHMEDABAD: At 10.45 pm Thursday night, the usual nightly silence in Gir sanctuary was suddenly broken by unusually loud birds' calls and roars of lions. There was chaos in cattle ponds in one of the ness within the forest. This was the scene minutes before the earthquake shook the state. The epicenter of the tremor that measured 5.3 on Richter scale was in Vanthali, roughly 50 km from Sasan.

Resident of Kanika Ness in Gir area, Nanabhai Kalabhai, said, "We woke up with a start due to loud roars of lions. This too would have been usual for us but the roar was not common. Soon, we sensed some movement in the cattle pond."

"We thought the cattle were scared as the roars were too close. Before we could figure out what was happening, the earth shook violently. It was then that we understood the unusual behavior of animals was due to the earthquake," he said.

A beat guard, on night duty at a checkpost inside the sanctuary, said, "Just before the earthquake, birds started giving frantic calls. Soon after the earthquake, two lions passed me by. Usually, one can does not see such movement of big cats late in the night, unless the animal is hungry."
Another forest beat guard, who was near a ness, said, "I saw a cow and a buffalo suddenly jump into in a pond. I was taken aback as I thought that the lion might have made his way there. But within a minute, I was literally shaking and realized that the movement of the animal was because of the tremor. They could sense it much before us."
Former director of Wildlife Conservation Society-India and an expert on Gir lions, Ravi Chellam, said, "Animals are able to perceive the threat and give early calls. Sensing trouble, cattle and big cats, including lions, move to safer areas." These are very rare incidents and one has not been able to study the behavior fully.

Superintendent of the Sakarbaugh Zoo V S Rana said, "Our doctor was on a round and suddenly he heard calls of the birds. There is a usual silence late in the night and birds' calls are rare. He was standing near the chital and leopard enclosures. There was not much movement in their cages. The doctor then went to the lion enclosure only to find the big cat moving, which was unusual at that time of the night.

Donkey Sanctuary: bringing relief to beasts of burden

New Delhi: Donkeys and mules, beasts of burden, and often a subject of ridicule. Not much attention has been focused on these over worked animals. At construction sites, these animals work with some of the poorest people in society carrying bricks, sand and heavy supplies. For over a decade, Jean and Bob Harrision have been running the 'Asswin project' - to provide medical care to sick and injured equines. 

Jean said, "I came to India to holiday with daughter n we went to Old Delhi. I saw horses with open wounds, we saw donkeys coming home from work. They looked so tired. Little babies. And I said to my daughter that these are poor animals, they really really need help. 

Jean and Bob keep a check on donkeys working at the construction sites. They know it's through the donkey owners that they can give a better life to these equines. 

At Haryana's Donkey Sanctuary, a better life is provided for these animals. Sumit, a donkey who was born-blind and one-month-old Sid was born to a weak mother. Each animal is given proper medical help with a special focus on their nutrition. 

This shelter houses nearly 30 donkeys. They were suffering from serious health problems right from malnutrition to foot and knee injuries, when they were found. Thanks to the efforts of Jean and Bob they are being nursed back to health. Bob and Jean through their work, are making the world a better place - one animal at a time.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Mumbai Auction Raises $750,000 for Indian Elephants

Mumbai, Oct 18 (IANS): A collection of African gemstone jewellery fetched $750,000 at an auction here by Sotheby's, part of a fundraising initiative for conservation of Indian elephants, the organisers said.

India is home to about 27,000 wild elephants, which is more than half the Asian elephant population. But experts say they are endangered today due to the shrinking of habitat and man-animal conflict.
The results from last Friday's auction were announced Monday. The gemstones were donated by the Britain-listed Gemfields company, a leading producer of gemstones and a partner of the Emeralds for Elephants initiative. The precious stones, produced in Zambia, were brought to the country to be made into jewellery by 10 selected Indian designers.

"We started working on this project from February onwards wherein we tied up with 10 jewellers across nine Indian cities, as well as contemporary sculpture artist Arzan Khambatta," said Rupak Sen, the company's representative. "The basic objective was to raise awareness for Asian elephants and also crucial funds to protect the elephant corridors," said Sen.
The corridors are a conduit for elephants to move between viable habitats that helps facilitate their genetic viability and larger space and food availability.

The Mumbai auction was a follow up of another fundraising event for elephants held in London last year organised by the NGO World Land Trust. Gemfields also participated.

Some 200 life-sized elephant models made up of material such as metal, paper, clay and wood by reputable designers were exhibited across the city. They were later auctioned.

"Since we are a gems mining company we thought we could also probably help this cause. So we got seven of best jewellery designers to make seven pieces of jewellery using our emeralds. "These pieces were displayed in high-end stores in London and then auctioned off. We were able to raise close to 700,000 pounds in less than half an hour," said Sen. 

"India is a very important market for us. About 90 percent of our productions are bought by customers based in Jaipur, one of the biggest hubs for emerald cutting and polishing. "Therefore, we wanted to do something as part of our corporate social responsibility," Sen told IANS on phone. Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit had joined the initiative in July as its brand ambassador to lend support to the cause. 

Earlier, a nationwide survey by the NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) had identified 88 corridors that needed protection. After which, WTI in partnership with the World Land Trust (WLT) have secured a number of corridors in Uttarakhand, Kerala and Meghalaya.

Securing of corridors involves working closely with the local communities and governments, which renders the entire process time and resource-intensive. Gemfields has pledged to support the World Land Trust and WTI's corridor projects in India.

Eco effect of Animal farm

A growing number of poultry animals are raised in production centres where they are kept along with their waste in a very small land area.

In March this year, the ministry of commerce gave nod to a policy that allowed 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in rearing animals under intensive farming systems with stall-feeding, as well as poultry breeding farms and hatcheries where micro-climate will be controlled through advanced technologies like incubators and ventilation systems.

A growing majority of chickens and pigs are raised on industrial farm animal production (IFAP) facilities, also called factory farms, where tens of thousands of animals are confined, along with their waste, on a very small land area. Globally, such facilities account for an estimated 67 per cent of poultry meat production, 50 per cent of egg production and 42 per cent of pork production.

Operations with 10,000 to 50,000 hens crowded into one small shed are now quite common in India. India is one of the top four broiler chicken producers in the world. The nation’s 230 million hens produce around 48.5 billion eggs a year. Nearly 2.4 billion broiler chickens, though not confined in cages, also experience crowded confinement, poor air quality and stressful handling.

In addition to the animal welfare issues associated with IFAP, these operations adversely affect the environment, people’s health and the lives of small farmers rearing them at the centre.


According to the United States’ department of agriculture’s (USDA’s) Economic Research Service, IFAP operations in the United States produced 1.23 million tonnes of nitrogen from manure spread on fields in 2007, however, cropland and pasture owned by these operations only had the capacity to assimilate 38 per cent of the nitrogen produced.

Industrial poultry production operations produce 52 per cent excess phosphorous and 64 per cent excess nitrogen created by farm animal waste in the United States. Run-off from poultry operations into the Chesapeake Bay in eastern United States had been blamed for outbreak of Pfisteria piscidia in water, killing millions of fish and causing skin irritation, short-term memory loss and other cognitive problems among local residents.

Human Health

In industrial egg operation centres, air is laden with pollutants such as ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and dust containing allergens, fungi and endotoxins, making it more difficult for both birds and workers to breathe. Exposure to endotoxins often leads to respiratory ailments among workers in caged hen facilities.

Excess nitrates from IFAP operations in groundwater can cause “blue baby syndrome” among infants. The blood of babies with this syndrome is unable to carry enough oxygen to body cells and tissues.

In 1996, 7,000 Japanese schoolchildren were infected with Escherichia coli type O157:H7 (that breeds on intestines of cows and other animals) after eating sprouts that were probably irrigated with manure-contaminated water.

Animal manure has been found to be the source of more than 100 zoonotic pathogens that may directly contaminate the food supply. In India, staff members of the Humane Society International (HSI), an animal protection organisation, have observed streams of manure-polluted water flowing out of IFAP operations and into the surrounding villages.

Airborne bacteria present at IFAP operations can potentially transfer antibiotic-resistant bacteria from intensively farmed animals to labourers and others who live near such operation centres. Households that consume eggs produced at IFAP operation centres also face health risks. Induced moulting by withholding feed, a practice commonly used to revive productivity of aging hens or to temporarily halt production due to adverse market conditions, imposes significant stress on birds and have been found to severely affect their immune systems. They become more susceptible to infections such as salmonella enteridis, which can then be passed on to those who consume these eggs.

A report by the International Food Policy Research Institute warns that salmonella infections are on the rise in India and elsewhere, and pose significant threat to public health in large Asian cities where huge numbers of birds are raised for food. Even though the Animal Welfare Board of India has directed all egg producers to immediately discontinue starvation to induce moulting, the implementation of the order remains a challenge.

Rural Economy

The rising environmental problem due to caged confinement of farm animals is likely to intensify in India with the government opening up the animal rearing sector for foreign direct investments.

As of now, six large poultry companies account for nearly 40 per cent of egg production in India. Industry reports state India will see the market further consolidating, leading to the dominance of large scale producers and more harmful elements in the environment.

Environmentalists who have studied the effect of animal breeding on environment in the United States have emphasised the asymmetrical relationship in waste produced with the dumping facility available. Consequently, recent policy changes in the United States have indicated a clear move away from the intensive confinement of farm animals.

Due to rising public concern about food safety and animal welfare, the European Union (EU) is phasing out the intensive confinement of farm animals. The United Kingdom has already banned gestation crates for sows, in addition to having rigorous codes of animal welfare for other farm animals. In Switzerland, battery cages, gestation crates and sow stalls have been prohibited since 1992. Belgium is phasing out use of all types cages in egg production. New Zealand and Tasmania (Australia) are also phasing out gestation crates for sows.

In India, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, specifically forbids the keeping or confinement of “any animals in any cage or receptacle which does not measure sufficiently in height, length and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement”. India has failed so far to enforce the space allowance for animals required by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. This loophole makes it easy for foreign animal production companies to want to invest in India in industrial farm animal production system since they realise they do not have to implement progressive animal welfare standards