Wednesday, 30 November 2011

24 dogs beaten to death in Tamil Nadu

In a gruesome incident, about two dozen dogs have been beaten to death in Vellur village at Kancheepuram district on Monday night. 

Animal activists and members of the Blue Cross of India rushed to the spot following complaints from the public and recovered as many as 24 carcasses, with a few being exhumed from nearby paddy fields.

The carcasses of the stray dogs were scattered in the nearby lake and paddy fields, said Dawn Williams, general manager, Blue Cross. The carcasses were posing a health hazard for the residents of the area.

Eyewitnesses alleged that workers at a real estate firm promoting plots in the nearby area were responsible for the death of the stray dogs. The public claimed that the dogs were caught and beaten to death to keep the plots free from strays, according to Williams.

 A police complaint has been filed against the real estate group in the nearby station. The carcasses have been sent to Madras Veterinary College for autopsy, he said. 

“This is not the first time that such an inhumane act is happening. Even the government bodies continue to violate animal welfare norms and more than 200 dogs have been killed in the past six months,” complain sources attached to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals (SPCA), adding that last week about 20 dogs were shot dead behind Puzhal jail where government quarters are located.

“In many cases, government staff indulge in the gruesome acts and the irony is that even pets are caught using metal wires and put to death. The worst part is that canines are buried alive without mercy. Even pups are not spared,” an SPCA life member said.

COA makes donation to animal conservation programs in India

New Delhi, Nov. 30 (CNA) The Council of Agriculture (COA) has donated US$11,000 to two Indian wildlife conservation groups to sponsor rare animal conservation and research projects, officials said Wednesday. Taiwan's representative to India, Ong Wen-chyi, on behalf of the COA, made the donation that same day to the two wildlife conservation groups -- Aaranyak and the Rhino Foundation for Nature in North East India -- during a three-day visit to Assam State in northeast India. Ong told CNA that since 2008, the COA has donated around US$10,000 per year to help enhance India's research in wildlife conservation. This year, the money will be used to support a Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary project, a Gorumara National Park rhino-monitoring project, and a Northeast Indian mammal research project, he said. Ong also said during a visit to the Kaziranga National Park that he was pleased to see that the rhino population has steadily increased in the park, which has also received funding from Taiwan over the years. (By Ho Horn-ru and Hanna Liu)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

India's first emu processing unit to come up soon

The country’s first emu processing unit will be coming up at Nuziveedu in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh by April 2012, said Sanjay Bhoosreddy, joint secretary (department of animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries), Union ministry of agriculture.

“We have received an application from Vijayawada-based Vileena Emu Processing Private Limited for backend subsidy. We will consider providing the same either through Nabard’s Poultry Venture Capital Fund or through the Establishment and Modernisation of Slaughterhouse Scheme at a meeting on November 25,” he said on the sidelines of Poultry India 2011 here.

The Poultry Venture Capital Fund was floated in 2010 with a budgetary allocation of Rs 20 crore for the current financial year. The fund supports small farmers and unemployed youth in establishing poultry breeding farms with low-input technology birds and also for creating the necessary infrastructure facilities. The fund provides backend subsidy of 25 per cent, except for technology upgradation, with the subsidy being 33 per cent for SCT and farmers from northeast India.

According to B Srinivas Rao, managing director, Vileena Emu Processing, construction of the unit on 22 acre is under way, entailing an investment of Rs 18 crore in Phase-I and Rs 10 crore in Phase-II.

“The unit will have an installed processing capacity of 300 birds per day. Trial run, with 80 birds a day, will be completed by March 2012, and we expect to commence commercial production from April,” he said.

The population of emu, the second largest flightless bird under the ratite group, is around 1 million in India, with Andhra Pradesh, especially Krishna, Guntur and West Godavari districts, accounting for 40 per cent of this. There is an almost 100 per cent utilisation of emu, which weighs 40 kg (fat 10 kg, meat 15 kg, hide 8 kg and feathers).

“The unit will offer farmers Rs 12,600 per bird and will market processed meat (raw, chilled and frozen) for Rs 800 a kg,” Rao said, adding the company was planning to start an emu processing unit in Maharashtra, on a small scale though, in 2014.

As part of the 11th Five-Year Plan, Boosreddy said his department had started poultry estates in Sikkim and Orissa on 10 acre and 25 acre respectively last year to promote broiler and layer farming and setting up of feed plants, warehouses and packaging units.

“If these pilot estates taste success, we will replicate this initiative to agro-climatic zones in bigger states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Karnataka in the first year of the 12th Plan,” he said.

Hope soars after end to animal slaughter at Bunkhal Fair

The successful end to animal slaughter in the name of religion at the Bunkhal Fair has raised hopes among animal rights activists in the State.
Activists now hope that the successful prevention of animal sacrifice at Bunkhal will set an example and pave the way for the Uttarakhand High Court ordering a blanket ban on all mass animal sacrifice.
The People For Animals, Uttarakhand member secretary and co-opted member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, Gauri Maulekhi said that they are eagerly awaiting the final hearing of the case filed by PFA Uttarakhand in the High Court which is slated to be held on November 29.
Activists are hopeful that the barbaric practice of animal slaughter ritual will also be discontinued in other temples in different parts of the State which it is presently continuing following the end of this practice at Bunkhal. The fair held at Bunkhal was infamous for the thousands of animals sacrifice including of buffaloes, goats and birds.
PFA had filed a petition in the Uttarakhand High Court last year calling for an end to what is not only an inhuman practice but also a violation of various laws.
However, in spite of efforts made by the district administration and animal activists, some animal were slaughtered in the previous year. This year however, the goddess was offered milk in stead of the blood.
Maulekhi informed that the PFA will now focus its efforts on preventing the continuation of the barbaric mass slaughter of animals held at Gangolihat in Kumaon region of the State.
Many animals are slaughtered here every year during the festival of Dusshera. Speaking on the issue of the implementation of Animal Sacrifice Prohibition Act to check mass sacrifice in temples, she said though the draft document was ready, the State Government didn’t take any initiative towards bringing the Act into implementation in the Uttarakhand.

India has best animal laws in terms of what it covers: Manoj Oswal

Appointed as the animal welfare officer by the government of India, Manoj Oswal has been actively involved in fighting for the protection of animals and their rights and prevention of abuse towards them. Recently, he was arrested for posting remarks of ‘free will’ on his official website. Soumabha Nandi speaks to the activist about the same.
Q: You were recently arrested, tell us about it.
A: I was arrested for expressing my views on my website. But I fail to understand, is the cyber crime department of Pune Police the new censor board for Internet? It is shocking that a simple expression of thoughts and opinions was labelled as a heinous crime. My website has no new information as it has already been presented in the high court and media earlier. I am sure that the court will quash the FIR without much of a debate.

Q: Cases of animal abuse are on a rise in the city. Do you think citizens and authorities lack compassion towards animals?
A: A majority of citizens is indifferent to animals but there is a growing tribe of people who have empathy for animals and their rights. Everyday, I receive around 10-20 calls from people reporting a variety of animal issues. It is encouraging to see 
people report such cases.

As far as the authorities are concerned, they are just another set of citizens with certain powers and duties. There are good and bad people in the administration. The problem is that there is a lack of efficiency in our system. A good officer’s work somewhere gets lost among a host of other shameful activities.

Q: Recently, the PMC dog pound was in the news because of lack of basic amenities. What is your view in this regard?
A: The agency hired by the PMC was least interested in animals. They neither insisted on proper infrastructure for animals nor got it installed themselves or allowed volunteers to do so. But the entire PMC cannot be blamed either. The PMC officers unfortunately work under tremendous pressure of the corporators and politicians. The dog squad is entirely at the whims of corporators who have no respect or consideration for the law or the officers who work honestly.

Q: In spite of several laws for protection of animals, there has been an alarming rate of incidents of animal abuse. What is the reason?
A: India has the best animal laws in terms of what it covers and how wide its implications are. But the implementation is non-existent. At the same time, a majority of policemen, particularly senior officials, are willing to help if they are provided with proper guidance as they are not aware of animal laws.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Death of Animals due to Electrocution

The Ministry receives reports from various sources about the death of wild animals in rail, road accidents and due to electrocution. However, the details of such deaths are not collated at the level of the Central Government. 

Ministry of Environment and Forests has taken the following steps to mitigate the deaths of wild animals in rail and road accidents and due to electrocution: 

Developmental projects including those for construction of railway lines, roads, and laying of power transmission lines passing through protected areas, or through eco-sensitive zones in their vicinity, are examined and approved by the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife, subject to such conditions as may be necessary for the protection of wild animals. 

Financial assistance is released to the State Governments for taking up activities aimed at reducing the possibility of death of wild animals in rail or road accidents such as construction of animal passes, cleaning of vegetation along roads or railway lines, setting up of watch towers, etc. 

An advisory containing the do’s and don’ts has been issued for the use of field officials of Railways and Forest Department to prevent death of elephants in accidents with trains and a joint coordination committee has been constituted including the officers of the Railway Board, Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the Forest Department of the Government of West Bengal. 

Necessary guidelines titled “Roads, Sensitive Habitats, and Wildlife’ for safety measures to be observed on roads have been issued by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun

Instructions are issued to the concerned State Governments, where incidents of death of wild animals due to electrocution are reported, to ensure that power transmission lines are properly maintained by concerned electricity authority by installing requisite Earth Leakage Circuit Breakers and regular inspection of transmission lines against their sagging. 

This information was given by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests (independent charge) Shrimati Jayanthi Natarajan in a written reply to a question by . Shri P.L. Punia in Lok Sabha today. 

Bounty to sterilise Himachal Pradesh monkeys criticised

Animal rights activists have criticised a bounty of 500 rupees ($9.60) a head put on the capture of monkeys in India's Himachal Pradesh state. They say allowing members of the public to capture monkeys and hand them over for sterilisation could be "traumatic".

Officials hope to cut monkey numbers by capturing and sterilising 200,000 in the next seven months. The state says monkeys are a menace, destroying crops and attacking tourists and locals in holiday destinations.
But Rajeshwar Negi, a prominent animal rights activist, told the BBC the bounty plan was "not a good idea" and that capturing monkeys should be left to "experts who are far better equipped".
He said: "Monkeys will be captured in a crude manner. This can be very traumatic for the animals... many can get hurt in the process."
Hanuman's state
The state's chief minister and his cabinet colleagues, along with top officials, met recently and came up with the sterilisation plan.
Monkey sterilisation in Shimla
Twenty-five sterilisation centres have been set a target of treating 200,000 monkeys by June
A total of 25 sterilisation centres have been set a target of treating 200,000 monkeys by June next year and then returning them to the wild.
The capturing will not be restricted to forest guards. Anyone can join in, handing over captured monkeys to the authorities to pocket the bounty.
According to the latest count there are some 300,000 monkeys, mainly the red-bottomed, and the larger but more docile black-faced langurs.
The state capital, Shimla, has been a haven for monkeys ever since the town was the summer capital of the British Raj and even inspired the young Rudyard Kipling to write about his "Bandar-log" monkeys in The Jungle Book.
The state's Communist party leader Kuldeep Tanwar told the BBC: "Farmers in many parts of the state have been forced to abandon farming due to the rising incidents of monkeys destroying crops."
Farmers were issued licences to kill monkeys a couple of years ago but animal rights activists and right-wing groups objected strongly, as Shimla is considered the abode of Hanuman, the monkey god.
A year ago a huge statue of Hanuman was unveiled at the highest point of Shimla.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Uckfield charity helps malnourished bears in India

A Sussex charity has begun a mission to rescue malnourished bears kept in zoos in India.

Two years ago the team from International Animal Rescue went to India to try and save the last dancing bears from the streets. 

There are 198 zoos in the country and at least half contain captive sloth bears. 

Now the Uckfield charity has turned its attention to malnourished bears kept in cramped cages.

Why we have to be careful about losing the forest for roads

Protected forests are meant to be biodiversity repositories but all too frequently automobiles speed and trains thunder through them. Tall electric pylons, deep concrete-lined canals and pipelines carrying gas, petroleum or water carve up the forests even further. Everything from insects and amphibians to elephants get injured, maimed or killed while trying to cross these barriers.

The few estimates of road-kills may be underestimates as many injured animals drag themselves off to die in the nearby shrubbery. Some carcasses are scavenged by other animals, which also fall prey to speeding vehicles. The total number of animals being killed on roads running through parks is unknown. Despite the problem being recognized and proposals for more such projects being tabled, there are no national guidelines for the construction and maintenance of these structures in forested areas. In an effort to set this situation right, T.R. Shankar Raman of the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, drafted a background paper for the National Board of Wildlife.

Of the different kinds of animals, amphibians and reptiles are the worst affected by roads. About ten years ago, a study conservatively estimated that 10,000 of them were squashed on a 100 km stretch in the Anamalai hills of the Western Ghats. Can these species withstand this level of mortality? We don’t know what proportion of the adult population is being killed to estimate whether this poses a dire threat to their conservation. However, in Europe, studies indict roads near breeding ponds as a major threat to some species of amphibians. Every year, volunteers of Froglife help thousands of toads cross roads in the UK and yet, an estimated 20 tons of the amphibians are run over. The US spends thousands of dollars building frog tunnels under highways.

Besides the danger to animal lives caused by roads, railways and electric pylons, linear structures reduce the area available to wildlife even within these safe refuges. Bandipur Tiger Reserve has 800 km of roads. With an average width of 10 metres, that’s 8 sq km of forest lost. Additionally, 30 to 40 metres of vegetation are cleared on the shoulders to allow greater visibility. So the forest area lost to roads is three to four times higher.

Any clearance allows the sun to blaze into tropical forests, causing temperature and humidity fluctuations. During storms, wind currents whip through roads, railway lines and other “wind tunnels,” snapping branches and toppling trees. The opening up of the forest heats up the ground that some sensitive plants are unable to tolerate. It is estimated that the effects of cutting through forests can extend up to 100 metres on either side of the clearing. In all, Raman reckons the 874 sq km Bandipur Tiger Reserve has lost about 80 sq km, a tenth of the area, to roads. In other words, every km of road ruins about 10 ha of forest.

That’s not all. About 2000 km of firebreaks slice the Park. With an average width of 25 metres, an additional 50 sq km of forest is gone. While it may be argued that this degradation is for the larger good of the preserve, a study in neighbouring Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary concluded that firebreaks are not the best defense against a conflagration. Fire-lookout camps are more effective. Raman also observes that firebreaks are hacked even through wet evergreen rainforests such as Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary where the risk of fire is low leading to unnecessary loss of forest.

Any of these straight line clearings and structures bifurcate territories and oust animals from them. Smaller animals whose home range is cleared for the road or canal may lose their ability to survive entirely. Where there are no canopy connections above roads, primates like lion-tailed macaques are forced to dodge traffic at great risk to life and limb. Or if it is high tension electric lines that cut through the forest crown, the primates may try to use the cables as a bridge and get electrocuted.

Roads with railings can become insurmountable barriers for animals. The ones especially along hillsides are the worst. Animals are trapped between the steep slope on one side and a concrete parapet wall, the commonest form of railing, on the other. Whether they are slow moving animals like pangolins and turtles or faster ones like jackals and mouse deer, they have to trot several km before a break in the railing allows them to escape. However, many panic, run helter-skelter and get killed.

Any clearing in a forest is like an open sore, an entry point, all too readily exploited by foreign weeds, like Eupatorium and Lantana that do not allow forest plants to grow. The seasonal clearing of vegetation along the edges of roads, firebreaks, and under electric pylons, helps the weeds spread far and make inroads into the surrounding forest. Roads along hill slopes destabilize the soil causing landslides while debris from the construction is frequently dumped downhill smothering the forest below.

Raman also suggests ways of minimizing the damage caused by such engineering feats. Wherever possible, realigning the road or structure outside the forest should be considered first. Even existing roads and pathways that cause heavy damage should be realigned outside forests. This additional investment would immeasurably boost the conservation value of the forest. If more than one pathway has to be cleared, then they should all follow the same alignment rather than slicing the entire forest into many little slivers.

Where realignment is not possible, mitigation measures need to be planned right at the drawing board stage. The website of the Australian World Heritage Management Authority provides detailed guidelines for such structures. Other recommendations have also been made by the Elephant Task Force, Wildlife Trust of India and Wildlife Institute of India.

Efforts at mitigation are already underway in some parts of the country. The collaboration between Wildlife Trust of India, the Railways and the state government of Uttarakhand to prevent the death of elephants on railway lines involved several actions such as leveling steep embankments, talking to train drivers and railway staff, as well as monitoring the movement of elephants. From 20 elephants being mowed down by trains over 15 years in Rajaji National Park, there has been no death for the last nine years.

Where roads already run through parks, a complete ban on night traffic is necessary. Several nocturnal animals are blinded by the bright headlights and sit suicidally motionless in the middle of the road. Daytime travel through forest areas should have speed limits so animals have time to react and get out of the way. Better still would be to dissuade people from using the forest road by imposing a Conservation Contribution Charge.

Raman makes the case for preserving old, native, road-side trees. Their shade suppresses the growth of weeds, their roots prevent soil erosion, and their branches and trunks shelter the road from driving rain. Their canopies allow arboreal species to cross over without having to take great risks. Where there are gaps, artificial bridges can help tree-living animals commute.

The construction work force cannot be allowed to billet in forest areas and should be transported in every day. All building materials need to be sourced from outside and not excavated or harvested from the jungle. These may seem obvious but are unfortunately normal practice. It’s likely that each project may have its own peculiarities that require consideration and field visits by wildlife scientists and ecologists ought to be conducted before granting approval.

While implementing these recommendations would promote the integrity of forests, the best case scenario is to prevent such pathways from cutting across these fragile and protected ecosystems. By allowing these structures to carve up our limited forests, we are only negating our conservation investment in them. A forest is better whole than the sum of its many parts.

NGOs, animal lovers offer to sterilise cats at Sewri hospital

A call for help from a hospital overrun by cats has forced animal lovers to sit up and take notice, and offer help in sterilising the cats.

It was a feline problem of clawing proportions. The increasing feline population at Sewri's TB hospital was proving to be an irritant to the hospital and its patients. After the story appeared in MiD Day (Attack of cats at TB hospital; November 23 edition), animal lovers across the city have offered to help authorities sterilise the cats. The authorities were in a fix as they did not have the requisite funds to sterilise the cats and thereby help bring their population under control.

Reacting to MiD Day's report, non-government organisations have stepped up to help; they will start the sterilisation program for the cats on Monday within the hospital premises itself. 

"We have put an ambulance in place and my team has already surveyed the hospital premises. We will get a private doctor to sterilise all the stray animals, including the cats, in the hospital compound. After sterilisation, we will put them up for adoption and those who do not get adopted will be left in the same areas from where they were picked up," said Ganesh Nayak, from Animals Matters to Me (AMTM), a Mumbai-based NGO. Nayak added that a firm named Blue Lotus had agreed to fund the sterilisation of 25 cats. While Dr Rajendra Nanavare, medical superintendent of the hospital, said, "They (NGOs) have approached me and we are fine with them taking on the work of sterilisation of the cats. These animals roam around the hospital, entering the compound from the slums nearby, and then going back there. To put a permanent stop to this, we have decided to put grills in the open spaces from where they might enter the hospital."

The problem, according to Dr Nanavare is that patients at times give away leftover food to these cats, after which the cats start coming regularly to the ward.

According to the hospital staffers, as many as 45 cats have made the hospital wards their home. On any given day, they can be seen sprawled on the floor contentedly, sometimes climbing into patients' beds for a nap.

Relatives of the patient admitted at the hospital told Sunday Mid Day that they have to be cautious while feeding the cats since they got aggressive especially if eggs and milk was served. "These cats sleep in the hospital wards, and often leap onto the hospital beds, even when the patients are resting on them. Cats are quite commonplace in public hospitals, but the numbers here are alarming," said a hospital staffer, adding that the worst affected wards were ward number five, six and seven.

Lt Col (Dr) J C Khanna, Secretary And Officer-In-Charge of the animal hospital of Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) welcomed the sterilisation move. "The sterilisation program will be beneficial for both, patients as well as the feline population. Once the sterilisation program is conducted, the patients should feel at ease." 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Where Diwali comes late and brings on animal slaughter

Shimla : Almost a month after the rest of India celebrated Diwali, some interior areas of Himachal Pradesh are set to usher in the festival Friday, slaughtering hundreds of animals in celebration, in keeping with the tradition.

The mythical reason for the delayed Diwali, say locals, is that the news of Lord Ram's victorious return to Ayodhya reached late in these parts, Prem Parshad Pandit, member-secretary of the state temples committee, told IANS.

The festival, locally known as Buddhi Diwali (or old Diwali), is mainly celebrated in Ani and Nirmand in Kullu district, Shillai in Sirmaur district, and Chopal in Shimla district.

The celebrations are spread from three days to a week, depending on local traditions and custom. Festivities start on the first 'amavasya', or new moon of the lunar half, after the regular Diwali.

People dance and sing folklore related to the epic Mahabharata through the night in front of bonfires, amid the beating of drums and playing of trumpets to appease the gods. They carry out processions with the flame of the bonfire. It's also associated with the Mahabharata battle which is said to have started on the first day of Buddhi Diwali.

In Kullu district, the festival is celebrated to commemorate the killing of the demons, Dano and Asur, who resided there in the form of snakes. Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed.

As per tradition, villagers take animals to a nearby temple where the sacrificial ceremony is performed on 'amavasya'. The severed heads are offered to the deities and the meat is taken home for cooking. The feast is shared by villagers.Pandit said there are certain local customs that the government cannot prohibit.

"The sacrificing of animals to appease gods has been followed for decades. The government is educating the people to do away with it. In some areas, people have stopped it, but it's more or less a symbolic exercise," he added.

Octogenarian Leela Devi, a villager in Shillai area of Sirmaur, said: "The animal sacrifice ensures protection of our crops and livestock from natural calamities. We rear animals specially for the festival."

She said the feast prepared from the slaughtered animals is served among the entire community. "Even the leftover meat is stored for consumption during winter. Actually, the celebrations mark the onset of a harsh winter."

The festival also has a brighter side. The locals clean their houses, purchase utensils, bangles and clothes and cook special dishes.
However, animal protection groups have demanded that the practice of animal killing be stopped.

A centuries-old Buddhist shrine, the Key monastery in Spiti Valley in Lahaul and Spiti district, last year appealed to people to stop slaughtering animals and be more humane to other species. 

The monastery has even warned locals, mostly Buddhists, that if they are caught slaughtering animals, including wild ones, or drinking liquor, a fine of Rs.20,000 would be imposed on them.

Animal Rights group for action against wildlife law violation

An animal rights organisation has complained to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests regarding departmental inaction in cases of blatant violation of wildlife laws in Dehradun.

In a letter submitted to the State, PCCF RBS Rawat, People For Animals, Uttarakhand member secretary and co-opted member of Animal Welfare Board of India, Gauri Maulekhi, have demanded action against officials who delay and provide time for the accused to escape action.

She pointed out that carcasses of 27 snakes including a freshly killed King Cobra were recovered from the Toxicology Lab of the Himalaya Institute of Medical Sciences on October 4 following which a case was registered and the lab was sealed.

After more than 40 days of the recovery, not a single arrest has been made by the Dehradun divisional forest officer in a case that calls for a non-bailable and cognizable action against the suspects under Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

The HIMS dean, Vijendra Chauhan, Vice-Chancellor Vijay Dhasmana and the head of department for Toxicology and Forensics Sanjay Das have not been arrested even after they were charged with ‘hunting’ of extremely endangered animals, the highest offense that can be committed under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Earlier, a signed testimony of the dean was submitted to the DFO stating that HIMS releases animals of exotic species with laboratory induced diseases into the forest near Chilla range but no action has been taken in this case as well.

On October 18, a captive soft shell turtle (Schedule 1, Wildlife Protection Act 1972) was recovered from a house on Mussoorie Road. The turtle along with other recovered animals was taken by the police to the Rajpur Thana, where it was handed over to the Forest Department.

In this case too the DFO made no arrests. Such inaction not only encourages the offenders but also shows the officer’s inefficiency, averred Maulekhi.

Animal welfare groups, authorities clash over stray dogs

A recent Hindustan Times report on stray dogs inside the India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan has sparked off a debate. As per the report, PC Sharma, GM Publicity, India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), said, “We’ll definitely throw the dogs out. The venue was cleared during preparations, but some have managed to remain inside.” Animal welfare groups are livid at the statement, and say it’s insensitive to consider any such action.

“The IITF is threatening to “throw” the dogs out, but it is because of the apathy of the new management that the population has increased,” reads a Facebook post by  the animal rights NGO Friendicoes. “How can one just throw the dogs out? Firstly, there have been no reports of dog bites from the trade fair, and if at all these dogs are creating a problem, there’s a proper procedure to remove them,” says Geeta Sheshamani, its co-founder.

Poorva Joshi of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says, “All issues regarding stray dogs are required to be handled within the appropriate legal framework. Displacing community dogs is a punishable offence and amounts to cruelty. Where events are being held and stray dogs are present, organisers must take the help of recognised NGOs who can assist with sterilisations, immunisation and adoption.”

However, the authorities say that proper measures are in place to keep the canines out. “We have contacted the MCD for evacuation of stray dogs from the venue. Two-three drives have already been conducted. The dogs are caught in a safe manner and sent to special homes, where they are sterilised and given medical assistance. After the fair, the animals will be left in their original habitat,” says Vikram Sehgal, General Manager, Security at India International Trade Fair (IITF). Visitors have mixed takes. “It’s never mattered to me,” says Sid Mohla, 23. Kriti Jha, 17, says, “Stray dogs make IITF dirty.”

UGC may issue guidelines to bar animal dissection

New Delhi: An estimated 19 million animals would be saved annually courtesy new recommendations calling for an end to animal dissection and experimentation in universities and colleges, animal rights body PETA said Wednesday.
The guidelines came from the University Grants Commission (UGC) — the apex regulatory body for higher education in India after a campaign by PETA India.

According to UGC’s website, it has published official recommendations calling for an end to animal dissection and animal experimentation for university and college zoology and life sciences courses in a phased manner.

The recommendations would soon be sent to teaching institutions across India for implementation, it added.“The UGC’s decision follows PETA’s extensive campaign, which included letters to the chair and expert committee of the UGC, petitions from students and other caring individuals asking for a dissection ban,” said a statement by PETA India.
“Soon undergraduate students will no longer be required to dissect animals and the process would be optional for postgraduate students,” it added.

The recommendations also call for modern modes of learning like software to replace the use of animals for experimentation.“By eliminating animal dissection and phasing out animal experimentation, Indian’s top university governing body is making sure that students use the most modern– computer models over animals”, said PETA India science policy advisor Chaitanya Koduri.

Dog catchers scoff at corpn’s 50 incentive

CHENNAI: The corporation has decided to double the dog catchers' incentive to 50 in a move to encourage them to round up more dogs for sterilization. More contract workers may be roped into " Operation Stray Dog".

Corporation officials and animal activists agree that thorough sterilization of community dogs is the most humane way of getting orphaned dogs off the streets. "Blue Cross's sterilization drive has been been one of the most successful in the country. Last year alone we sterilized over 9,500 dogs. So, if the corporation too continues its drive, stray dogs can definitely be controlled," said Chinny Krishna, vice-chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India .

Dog catchers though are not too happy with the corporation's initiative for the purpose. The civic body's dog squad captures and sterilizes at least 1,200 dogs a month. The squad consists of 19 people, including 15 on contract. "The whole system of paying us per dog is unfair. We asked for a permanent monthly salary, not a hike in the incentive," said Ananthakrishnan who has been working with the squad for the last 18 years. 

Animal activists too feel that corporation officials should improve the current employees' conditions and increase funds for better infrastructure before looking at roping in more contract employees or private catchers. "The men currently have work for only about 2 or 3 hours a day," said an animal rights activist .

The employees are also frustrated with the lack of basic facilities given to the squad. "The officers have not replaced the ropes we use to catch the dogs. We buy new ropes with our own meagre salary every few months," said another worker Bhaskar. After sterilization. the dogs are returned to their original habitat by a private NGO. 

Ear cropping and tail docking of pets punishable offences

In September, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) issued an advisory that the non-therapeutic tail docking and cropping of ears of animals amount to mutilation, constitute cruelty to animals and is a punishable offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The order came in response to a petition by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO). 

“The directive is binding on vets, breeders and citizens,” says Shakuntala Majumdar, governing body member of FIAPO and president of Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Thane. The tails of Boxers, Dobermans, Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes, Rottweilers and other breeds are docked when they are only a few days’ old. “This is done for cosmetic reasons as people want their pets to participate in animal shows.” 

Animal welfare organisation Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) has been discouraging pet lovers against tail docking, ear cropping and other forms of animal mutilations. Khurshid Bhathena, honorary secretary, BWC, Pune, says they welcome the directive. “In our Spring 2011 issue of Compassionate Friend (magazine of the organisation), we even asked readers to spread the word that mutilation of dogs was cruel and illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. We would like to add de-barking (surgical removing or reducing dogs’ vocal chord tissues), filing teeth and removing dewclaws (amputation of that extra toe, higher up on the side of the forepaw, used to facilitate gripping) to the list.” 

The AWBI directive says SPCAs and animal organisations can work with police and animal welfare departments to ensure action against offenders.  

“At dog shows, if there are two dogs one with a cropped ear is likely to have an edge,” says Neil Gajjar, secretary, Pune National Canine Club. However, he says the AWBI directive will be followed. “No one wants to break law. It might be tough to implement the directive initially, but since Europe and the US have also banned tail docking it can be abolished here, too.” 

Dr Tulpule, a city veterinarian stopped this practice almost two years ago. “I realised that it was completely unnecessary. I have even convinced many clients to keep the tails of their Cocker Spaniels or Dobermans. These operations are performed for purely cosmetic reasons. Some breeders even do it with rubber bands and we get cases of dogs with maggot-infested wounds,” he says.

'Animal is always loser in man-animal conflict'

KANPUR: The ever-increasing incidents of man-animal conflict has always been worrying the wildlife lovers and the environmentalists. The loss of the animal habitat and increased human interference in the forest area have been attributed as the reasons for such encounters. The results of such man-animal battles have given shocking results, either the animal is being poached by the villagers where it enters or else the man has to lose precious life. Following the laid rules, the wild-animals when rescued by the forest officials are thereafter rushed either to Kanpur or Lucknow zoo where they are administered medical treatment for keeping them alive.

It is in this very regard that the Kanpur zoo received a female man eater from Bahraich on Saturday. Taking the records into the account, the Kanpur zoo which has a good record of housing the rescued animals is now presently taking care of the maneater leopard. The leopard, which had entered into a village in Bahraich, had attacked people therein leaving them critically injured. Then the forest officials rescued the leopard and referred it to Kanpur zoological park for treatment.

Talking to TOI as to how the wild rescued animals are given medical care, director, Kanpur zoological park, K Praveen Rao said: "When-ever there is man-animal conflict, the looser is always a wild animal. The wild animals are loosing their preferred natural habitat due to human interference which leads to escaping of the animals to the nearby areas. There by they get trapped and later are thrashed badly. It is after this, such animals are sent to the zoo where they live their rest of the life as a rescued animal."

"Though we give them the best possible medical care, there are always chances of not recovering from the ailment due to trauma. Even if they recover, they are not in a position to survive in the wild. As a result they are confined in cages and are not put to display for the visitors as its against the laid down norms," added the zoo director.

Rao further said these maneaters after recovering cannot be released in the wild due to prolonged captivity. They will not be in a position to combat their predators or else they will no stop from attacking the human beings. As the jungle rule says, only those wild animals survive there who are more dominant than the other. "Therefore, such rescued animals are to be maintained in the captivity," said he further.

Rao also maintaines as there is no change in the behavioral pattern of the wild animals when they are ailing, it becomes all the more difficult to diagnose an ailment. As a result, signs of disease appear only when they reach the later stages of ailment. On the other hand, studies have been conducted on the diseases taking place in the domestic animals. "Thus, we go for expert advice from the veterinary doctors of the various zoos across the country, premier veterinary institution like IVRI in Bareilly, veterinary college in Mathura and the local, senior experienced veterinarians so that the ailing animal can be cured," he said