Monday, 24 December 2012

Now, man & animal collide

GUWAHATI: Just when the prolonged ethnic violence between Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims in the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) - an administrative set up under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution - which left nearly 100 people dead and over four lakh displaced between July and September this year is beginning to ebb, Assam has been caught up in the throes of another conflict, albeit of a different kind.
This time, the conflict in Assam is between man and elephant, and has taken an almost vicious turn at the peak of the paddy harvesting season. On December 19, four people were trampled to death by wild elephants - three in Krishnai area of Goalpara district and one in Hojai area of Nagaon district. Also, more than 100 houses were damaged by elephants in Mariani area of Jorhat district.
At least 70 people and not less than 10 elephants have been killed so far in confrontations in different parts of the state. The elephant casualties took place in a short duration spanning November-December, the crucial paddy harvesting time in the state.
Villagers on the fringes of Khalingduar Reserve Forest and Bornodi Wildlife Sanctuary along the India-Bhutan border in BTAD's Udalguri district, about 170km from Guwahati, are spending sleepless nights. With a large herd of wild elephants from Bhutan crossing over to raid croplands in the plains almost every day since November, the locals are in a confrontational mode. Five people were trampled to death when they attempted to chase the herd and four jumbos were killed in the past two months.
"This being a dry season, there is a scarcity of food in the jungles. So, jumbos are raiding croplands as an easy source of food. This has resulted in man-animal conflict intensifying in the border areas," said Ananta Bagh, a conservation volunteer at Nonaipara area in Udalguri.
Last week, a 60-strong herd entered Paneri area of district, and it took the forest department and local people three days to drive the herd away.
"We've had some respite for the last four days. Otherwise, jumbos were entering human settlements and raiding crops every day. We have deployed three teams in three conflict-prone areas for rapid response in chasing away elephants. Four trained elephants have also been pressed into service to assist in driving away wild jumbos," divisional forest officer of Dhansiri wildlife division, Bankim Sarma said.
Sarma said the biggest problem in chasing away elephant herds is human mobs. "Most human casualties are due to mob action and driving away elephants in an unorganized manner," he added.
The conflict is not confined to places in the BTAD. Almost 11 out of 27 districts in the state are in the grips of human-elephant conflict. "We are trying both short and long-term measures to mitigate human-elephant conflict. But, unfortunately, the conflict persists. We have planned to cover more areas under solar-powered electric fencing to prevent elephants from entering villages. As a short-term measure, we have asked our department personnel to intensify patrolling and are using trained elephants to chase away wild herds. Recently, there was a meeting in New Delhi of the chief wildlife wardens of all elephant-bearing states where conflict mitigation measures were discussed," Assam chief wildlife warden Suresh Chand said.
Assam has an estimated 5,620 wild elephants, according to the forest department. Destruction of their habitats with the expansion of agricultural land, development projects and encroachment of forest land has aggravated the conflict. The forest along the India-Bhutan border and Sonitpur district bordering Arunachal Pradesh have seen large-scale destruction, primarily due to the expanding tea cultivations and encroachment by humans.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

School bus kills dog, animal lover lodges plaint

NAVI MUMBAI: A Juinagar resident and animal lover, Rama Katarnavare (46), lodged a complaint against a rash school bus driver on Thursday night at the Nerul police station for fatally running over a stray dog in her locality.
While the police registered the FIR against the driver, Surendra Kondvilkar, under IPC Section 279 (rash driving) and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960), he has not yet been arrested.
Katarnavare told TOI that she had requested Kondvilkar to drive slowly inside the railway colony in Sector 22. "However, he never heeded my pleas. On Thursday, Kondvilkar was again speeding inside the colony and ran over a stray dog. I immediately informed the cops, who conducted a panchnama at the spot," said Katarnavare. Her son, Amit, said the accused did not show remorse even at the police station. Meanwhile, veterinarian Dr Pradeep Londe of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation said, "We were informed about the dog's death on Thursday itself and have taken its body." 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Mumbai calls for abolition of animals in circus

After promoting the cause of stray and abandoned animals, Mumbai is now gearing up to fight for the rights of circus animals across the country.
Members of an animal rights organisation protested outside a circus camp in Bandra on Friday. The protesters, chained and wearing masks of elephants, held signs that read, 'Abolish Slavery: Ban Animal Circuses'. According to the animal rights activists, all circus animals are treated like slaves. "Slavery of animals is akin to slavery of humans," says campaigner Abhishek Mudaliar, adding, "Animals in circuses across India are routinely chained and beaten. They are subjected to chronic confinement, physical abuse and psychological torment. Whips and other weapons like heavy steel-tipped rods are often used to inflict pain and beat them into submission. Animals and birds perform confusing, unnatural tricks รข€” for example, parrots riding bicycles, standing on their heads or jumping through rings of fire.
They don't do it because they want to, but out of fear of violent punishment. It's high time the government banned the archaic use of animals in circuses. We're appealing to parents whose kids love animals to steer clear of circuses that use animals."
The central government has already banned the use of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, lions and bulls in performances. "We are calling on the Government of India to follow the lead ofBolivia and Greece, which have banned the use of all animals. Why must we have dogs or parrots in our circuses?" Abhishek added. Bollywood also feels strongly about the case. Here's what some of the stars said.
B-town's 'pet' cause:

Celina Jaitly: Circus animals are kept in horrendous conditions. Dogs are crammed into dirty cages and hardly ever let out. Birds are locked inside cramped cages, and their wings are clipped so that they cannot fly. They pay a heavy price for a fleeting moment of human amusement. Nature has enough for man's needs, not his greed. If you want to see animals perform, watch them at their best in a nature documentary.

Rahul Khanna: Most children naturally love animals and would never knowingly support anything that involve treating them cruelly. Circuses can and do exist only because of willing human adults.
Raveena Tandon Thadani: Animals in circuses lead a life of endless confinement, constant physical abuse and psychological torment. Animals are not natural performers like us. We are the entertainers, not them. They belong in their natural homes, not suffering under the Big Top.

India's 'dancing bears' retire in animal rights victory

NEW DELHI — The sight of poorly fed and badly treated bears being forced to dance on the streets of India is a thing of the past as a campaign to wipe out the practice has finally borne fruit, activists say.
The tradition of forcing sloth bears to dance for entertainment dates back to the 13th century, when trainers belonging to the Muslim Kalandar tribe enjoyed royal patronage and performed before the rich and powerful.
Descendants of the tribe from central India had kept the tradition alive, buying bear cubs from poachers for about 1,200 rupees ($22) and then hammering a heated iron rod through their sensitive snouts.
After removing the animal's teeth and claws, the bear trainer threaded a rope through its snout and then headed for the streets where onlookers would pay a few rupees for a show in which the bear would sway and jump around.
"It's taken us many years but all the tribesmen we keep track of have moved on to different livelihoods," Vivek Menon from the non-profit Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), told AFP on the sidelines of a bear conference in New Delhi last week.
"The tradition might still be present in people's minds, of course, but we don't know of any cases where Kalandars are still practising it."
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and India-based Wildlife SOS, which runs sanctuaries for bears, have also declared an end to the practice in the last few months -- 40 years after a government ban in 1972.
The key, say the donation-funded groups, has been bringing the Kalandars on board, providing them with money and incentives to re-train in other professions.
The success points the way for other campaigns, such as the one to rid India of its snake charmers who can still be spotted illegally plying their trade, often with the snakes' mouths sewn shut.
"It was very difficult to convince the bear trainers to give up their work. Most of them were very scared, they have never known any other way of life but this," WSPA campaign coordinator Aniruddha Mookerjee told AFP.
One of the owners to give up was Mohammed Afsar Khan, a 30-year-old father of three girls who used to work with his father and brother travelling across central India with three bears in tow.
He says he used to earn about 300 rupees a day until he gave up the job six years ago.
"It's a hard life. You can never settle in one place, your children can't go to school, you end up feeling trapped. Then you are always worried about police harassing you for bribes," he said.
He handed over his bears to Wildlife Trust of India officers, who offered his family financial assistance and helped him and his younger brother learn driving skills.
He used the funds to rent a tractor and ferry bricks from kilns to construction sites in Chhattisgarh state. Today, he owns his tractor and earns about 500 rupees a day.
The bears recovered by the animal groups were often in a wretched state, suffering from infected snouts, root canal problems, even diseases such as tuberculosis which they contracted from humans.
The sloth bears also suffer from malnutrition after being fed bread, lentils and milk for years, leading to an extremely reduced life span.
Menon from WTI say that the dancing bear industry was also "a dominant cause behind the disappearance of the sloth bear" -- a focus at the bear conference which focused on conservation and welfare.
In the last three decades, the number of sloth bears -- a species native to South Asia -- has fallen by at least 30 percent, according to the IUCN-SSC Bear Specialist Group (BSG). There are now less than 20,000 of them.
"The widespread poaching of bear cubs and the killing of mother bears clearly affects the population of the species," Menon told AFP.
"India is changing rapidly and this is an outmoded, inhumane tradition. The trainers themselves realise now that it is far easier for them to earn a living doing other jobs," Menon said.
Aziz Khan is another former bear-owner who never expected to leave his ancestral trade but was happy for the way out offered by WTI when officers approached him and his friends more than a decade ago.
"I didn't earn much, but I was afraid to leave it. I didn't know how else I would be able to feed my three kids," the 45-year-old told AFP.
WTI helped retrain Aziz Khan and his friends as bakers. They now run their own bakery, producing 350 loaves of bread each day.
"I have no regrets today, it was a dead-end job and I am glad I was able to move on," he said.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Srinagar bear burning video goes viral

On Saturday, television screens were ablaze with visuals of villagers trying to torch a bear alive in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. Also, a bear had killed a 55-year-old on Thursday in north Kashmir.   While the two incidents occurred in places afar, the common thread was the increasing man-animal conflict in India.

The bear had attacked a house in Mohammadpora,  before climbing a tree, on Tuesday. In the four days the videos taken on mobile phones went viral, it was dubbed as human aggression.

Wildlife warden of Kulgam-Anantnag region, Imtiyaz Ahmad, however, disagreed. “It was not to kill but to scare the bear away. Our staff members saw it running back into the forest safe.”

Records show an increasing trend of man-animal conflict between 1995 and 2009. In south Kashmir alone, wildlife officials said 19 people had lost their lives and over 200 injured in animal attacks in the past two years.

“Last year, 12 people died in bear and leopard attacks,” said Ahmad.

Officials give different reasons for the increasing encounters. “The main reason is conversion of paddy land near forests into orchards, which attract bears. Also, with the ban on shooting animals.

‘Man-animal conflict has become a political issue in Kashmir’

Srinagar, Nov 22: In the wake of rising incidents of man-animal conflict involving mostly bears in the Valley, experts have recommended formulation of a comprehensive plan to prevent the situation from escalation.  

“The Hangul centric conservation efforts have taken heavy toll on other wild animals particularly bears. Jammu and Kashmir has a lopsided policy for equitable conservation of wild animals as it is only concentrating on Kashmir division and has totally neglected Ladakh and Jammu,” said Dr M K Ranjitsinh, chairman Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) during the 21st International Conference on Bear Research and Management, here today. 

“We need to protect bear habitants from human intervention to prevent the bears from intruding into human habitations,” he said. 

Chief Wildlife Warden J&K, AK Singh, said the government was making efforts to check the man-animal conflict. “Man-animal conflict has become a political issue in Kashmir. Sometimes it even changes into law and orders situation as people themselves try to tame the wild animals. However due to our sustained efforts we have prevent considerable number of man-animal conflict incidents,” he said.  

Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir Manzoor Ahmad Tak said man-animal conflict has emerged as major challenges for the wildlife department. He said in coordination with various organizations including Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Wildlife Institute of India efforts are being made to minimize incidents of man-animal conflict. 

Dr Vivek Menon co-chair IBA and executive director WTI minced no words to accuse the states of being indifferent towards bears. “26 out of 32 states in the country have wild animals, other than bear as their state symbol.  

“In Kashmir, the man-animal conflict involving bear has assumed horrendous ramifications. For past four years we have been working check the problem. We have devised some measures including rapid response teams, relief and ex-gratia to victims and awareness about wild animals particularly bears as long term solution,” he said. 

Dr John Beecham co-chair Bear Conflict Special Group gave a global overview of man-animal conflict and recommended measures to control it. Dr Satyakumar scientist Wildlife Institute of India said dwelt on conflict management measures.

With the onset of winter bears and leopards have been frequently spotted in residential areas like Harwan, Brein, Nishat, which fall in the Zabarwan range. Besides the city, the problem is severe across the countryside like Kupwara, Bandipora and Pulwama where forests have been vandalized by the smugglers during past 20 years.

Head to mass animal adoption event

If you’ve been looking at bringing home a pup or kitten, then here’s your chance to do just that with a clearer conscience and a lighter load on your bank balance. World For All (WFA), an animal welfare NGO, is back with the second edition of their annual event Adoptathon, tomorrow. This year the fair will witness over 100 Indian mixed breeds of puppies and stray kittens being put up for adoption.

Talking about their motive behind organising the event on such a grand scale, Ruchi Nadkarni, Founder, WFA, and Tanya Swetta, MD, id8 media solutions, say, “Adoptathon is the only platform where people can witness live adoptions taking place at a mass level. People feel a certain satisfaction when they see the pet they’re adopting, rather than simply looking at a newspaper advertisement or Facebook post.

However, if you thought adoption was easier than actually purchasing a pet from a store, then you couldn’t be further from reality. The organisers at WGA have a very strict screening process entailing an interview and a home check. “The interview is extensive and involves questions about commitment, lifestyle options, experience with animals, family status, living space, diet, age, etc. There is also a proper adoption agreement signed by adopters and the identity proof of adopters is collected,” says Nadkarni.

Only the Indian breed puppies and kittens are up for adoption. Most of these have been rescued off the streets. However, the organisers’ claim that they have all been in foster homes, and are well groomed and vaccinated.

The event saw about 1,500 walk-ins and 120 adoptions taking place last year. “Which is why, this year we have 120 animals. Our expectation obviously lies in the adoption of all of them. We expect around 1,000 people to definitely turn up at Adoptathon this year,” says Nadkarni.

Pets online
The latest entrant to the pets market in India, now also sells products for pet mice, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits and birds. On offer are home kits and toys for hamsters and mice, bedding for small animals, water bottles for birds and mice and soapbox perches for birds that can be attached to the cages. You could also try out their aloe vera sprays for bird-baths and animal carriers for rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets. “India is one of the fastest growing market for pets, growing a little over 20 per cent annually, and estimated to reach R800 crore by 2015. Urban consumers living in a nuclear set-up are turning to their pets for companionship and are willing to spend on their wellbeing,” says Ashish Shah, co-founder, Pepperfry. (by Sneha Mahale)

Adoptathon 2012 will take place at Bandra Hindu Association Hall, on Sunday, from 10 am to 7 pm.

Entry: Rs. 50

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Dog show faces animal board hurdle

Questions are being raised about a dog show to be organised in Dehradun on December 8 and 9 due to the illegalities resulting from the organiser not being registered by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).
People for Animals, Uttarakhand member secretary and AWBI co-opted member Gauri Maulekhi has appealed to the Surveyor General of India Dr Swarna Subba Rao, AWBI chairman Maj Gen (retd) Dr RM Kharb, Uttarakhand director general of police Satyavrat Bansal and Dehradun District Magistrate Dr BVRC Purushottam to issue necessary instructions to prevent this show from taking place without due permissions and registration.
Maulekhi states that it is a legal requirement for any dog show organiser to obtain a certificate of registration by the Animal Welfare Board of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India before exhibiting or causing to exhibit or even to train any animal to be exhibited at a public show.
There is a fee charged for participation for each animal by the Doon Valley Kennel Club, so the club is responsible for ensuring that all participants are duly registered since it is a completely commercial activity. This is covered under the Sections 21, 22, 23, 24, and 26 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. A circular has also been issued by the Uttarakhand Animal Welfare Board, Dehradun in this regard.
“Dogs with cropped ears and docked tails will be exhibited at the show as has been observed in past years which is an offence under Section 11 (l) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. A circular has been issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India in this regard.
The Doon Valley Kennel Club has obtained no registration certificate for the animals that will be exhibited and trained for exhibition on December 8 and 9 at the Survey Stadium and grounds at Hathibadkala in Dehradun, nor have they even applied to obtain the same.
The publicity and propaganda for this event and the ongoing registrations being held at a shop on Rajpur Road are misleading the participants into believing that this ‘dog show’ is being organised with prior permissions, which amounts to fraud under section 419, 420 and 423 of the Indian Penal Code.”
She further alleges that not a single member/breeder of this ‘club’ is registered with the AWBI but they have been selling pups and advertising for the same in newspapers with open disregard for the authorities. The event has little to do with animal welfare, as is being advertised by the organiser.
“Dog shows only encourage the forced breeding of more and more dogs in a country like ours where we are already struggling with stray dog overpopulation. The illegal breeders force back to back pregnancies on pedigreed bitches and keep them confined in poor conditions as has been revealed by PFA raids in Dehradun in the past,” she stressed.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Diwali 2012: Animals panic as noise grips Coimbatore

COIMBATORE: Animals across the city suffered the most while Diwali celebrations were on at several households in the city.
"Many pet owners called us saying their pets were either missing or appeared fearful, breathed heavily while the crackers were being burst outside," said Dr Viju Vijayan Pillai, a resident veterinary doctor at the animal shelter in the city.
Meanwhile, animal rights activists say this is a regular situation during Diwali and other celebrations. Deepak Nair, a city-based animal rights activist says Diwali is a terrible time for animals especially dogs. "Though all animals may not panic after crackers burst but a good number of dogs get scared. This is because the dogs have a more advanced hearing capacity than most of the animals," he says. There are several instances where out of fear, they escape from the houses, run long distances and mostly never come back later, Nair adds.
Mini Vasudevan, managing trustee of Humane Animal Society (HAS) says animals that are panic-stricken can be identified through their symptoms. "They show a tendency to hide under the bed. Shivering, excess salivating, a tendency to flee and an increased heart rate are also some of the symptoms," she says.
When the pets panic, they need reassurance, say veterinarians. "A comforting pat can also go a long way to console them. However, if they continue to show symptoms, a veterinarian should be consulted," Dr Viju said.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Travel permit denial gives Kerala elephants Maha relief

Seven elephants from Kerala were saved from a tiring Diwali after the state forest department denied permission for transporting the pachyderms all the way to Maharashtra for a three-day festival.
Held from November 9 to 11 at Dombivli, Mumbai Pooram’s main attraction, as displayed on the website by the organisers, was to be a parade of seven gold-caparisoned elephants amid a lavish display of fireworks.
State forest department sources said the organisers had not sought permission for the procession from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI). A statutory body under the ministry of environment and forests, AWBI has been formed to monitor animal welfare rights in India.
“The organisers never approached us for the requisite permissions. Parading elephants transported from up to 1,500km amid noisy fireworks would clearly have been a violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Animal Transport Rules,” said Chinny Krishna, vice-chairman, AWBI.
SH Naqvi, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), said, “In inter-state events such as these permissions from state ministries, in this case Kerala and Maharashtra, are required. The organisers were not granted permission to enter the state border as they had not sought the necessary clearances from the Centre.”
Besides instructions from AWBI to not grant permission to the organisers, the state forest department had received up to eight petitions from animal rights activists condemning the transport of these elephants from Kerala to Maharashtra.
The organisers, however, said that the state forest department had given permission for transporting five elephants to Mumbai last year, but it denied permission this year.
“We were able to transport elephants last year without AWBI’s permission. This year, we were informed that inter-state transport of elephants won’t be allowed. This is unfair; we are animal lovers too. We take the requisite care, we make sure that the elephants don’t travel more than 200km at a stretch. They are fed properly and there is a veterinary doctor on call at all times during the travel,” said Bhupesh Babu, a Vashi-based builder and one of the organisers.

Animal welfare bodies left with dogs from hospitals

CHENNAI: Three months after Chennai Corporation removed around 500 dogs and 70 cats from various government hospitals, the NGOs that offered to sterilize and temporarily house the animals are in a spot over where to release them. 

The Blue Cross, which sterilized close to 60 dogs picked up from the hospitals, is yet to decide where to release these animals. According to theAnimal Birth Control rules, stray dogs have to be released in the place from where they were picked up to maintain balance of habitat. 

"This is a problem for us as the dogs can't be released in medical institutions. Blue Cross usually houses dogs for up to five days. Post sterilization they are released where they were picked up," said Blue Cross Society general manager Dawn Williams. 

"We are yet to decide on what to do with these animals. We are in touch with Corporation officials to decide the future course of action," he said, adding that they were considering putting the animals up for adoption. 

In September, the Chennai Corporation along with volunteers from the Blue Cross, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and People for Animals removed 525 dogs, 16 cats and 3,048 rats from the city's government hospitals. The drive was launched after the body of a 12-day-old infant was eaten by rodents at the government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children in Triplicane. 

Around 60 dogs were sent to Blue Cross, and a few to People for Animals, according to Chennai Corporation officials. They said they did not know what happened to the rest of the animals. "Our duty is to remove the dogs from the government hospitals. It is not our responsibility to follow up on the whereabouts of these animals. We just ensure that they are not released into the hospital premises again," an official said. 

Stray dogs, however, continue to lounge around in the corridors of the government hospitals. "We are doing everything we can to chase the dogs away, but they keep returning. If there are more dogs than we can handle, we alert the Corporation or Blue Cross," said a senior official in the government women and children's hospital in Egmore. 

Animal activists have pinned the blame on hospitals for not keeping their premises clean. "There is so much leftover food in hospitals, which attracts stray dogs. We are still figuring out a humane way to deal with the situation," said S Chinny Krishna, vice-chairman of Animal Welfare Board.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Civic body scraps dog shelter plan

PUNE: The civic standing committee on Tuesday scrapped the proposal to build a shelter for stray dogs in the city. The committee had approved the proposal last week despite the civic administration's opposition. 

Committee chairman Baburao Chandere told reporters on Tuesday, "We reconsidered the proposal and decided that building a dog shelter is unfeasible and against the law." 

The proposal to build a dog shelter to accommodate over 40,000 dogs was tabled by NCP corporators Kishor Vitkar and Sunil Gogale. Last week the standing committee had asked the administration to make a feasibility report for the project. Opposing the proposal, the administration said that maintenance each dog would require Rs 18,000- 25,000 every year. The administration also said that, as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960, keeping stray dogs together is banned. 

"We had approved the proposal, considering the feelings of corporators. However, we came to the conclusion that the administration was correct," Chandere said. 

On an average, 1,150 dog-bite cases per month were registered since January 2012. In 2011, around 1,000 cases were reported each month. 

"Dog shelter is not an option to reduce dog-bite cases. Instead we have asked the health department to enhance the process the sterilize dogs," Chandere said.

Monday, 5 November 2012

'Man-animal conflict result of human actions alone'

NAGPUR: Human intervention, which has resulted in destruction of wildlife habitat, is responsible for the man-animal conflict. The need of the hour is to give more importance to sustainable development than economic development to conserve nature, said speakers at the one-day workshop on man-animal conflict organized by Society for Wildlife Conservation, Education and Research (Wild-CER).

MS Reddy, field director and chief conservator of forests (CCF), Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) (Maharashtra) said human beings are responsible for all the man-animal conflicts. "It is a result of our past actions. Destruction of wildlife habitat and increasing human population are the main causes behind this problem," he said.

Reddy added that time had come when sustainable development was given more importance than economic development. Agreeing with Reddy, Dr Bahar Baviskar of Wild - CER, said, "Now is the time for development with and for nature."

The workshop covered various aspects of man - animal conflict including government policies for mitigating conflict, case studies and so on. Speaking on government policies, Sheshrao Patil, CCF, Nagpur, threw light on the conditions and requirements of granting compensation to people in case of crop damage, injury or death.

Referring to absence of planned infrastructural projects, Kishor Rithe of Satpuda Foundation said lack of understanding of landscape matrix was a huge cause for the conflict. "Why wait for an incident to recognize a conflict situation? Can't we study and plan our projects in a way which will help in conflict mitigation?" he said.

Suggesting some remedies, Rithe said, "Awareness is the key, not only among locals but also policymakers. Consideration for wildlife while planning infrastructural projects and financial allocations for mitigation measures are needed to address the issue."

Ajay Pilariseth, divisional forest officer (DFO), PTR recounted a number of experiences to clarify his stand that humans are responsible for the conflict. "It is only when the natural order isdisturbed these wild animals are forced to come in contact with humans. Otherwise, they do everything in their capacity to avoid us. I have even seen sloth bears sacrifice jamun - their favourite fruit - in order to avoid humans who had entered the part of the forest where this fruit grows," he said.

Pilariseth added that it was time man learnt how to live in and around forests. "In our greed for more, we only think about us and nothing else. We don't even consider about the right of these animals to live," he said.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Cattle feed firm shoots ad with buffalos, lands in legal soup

On Tuesday, Fatehgarh Sahib DSP (Detective) Arshdeep Singh is set to look into a complaint that does not match his job profile — use of buffalo in a cattle feed advertisement and alleged cruelty meted out to the buffalo in the ad.
A number of cattle feed manufacturers in Punjab have suddenly found themselves in an awkward position after animal rights activists Naresh Kadyan and his son Abhishek alleged violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act-1960.
Abhishek, in an online complaint to the Punjab Police against Tiwana feed manufacturer Tiwana Oil Mills Pvt Limited, Fatehgarh Sahib, alleged the company had violated the Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act -1960 by not obtaining “pre-shoot” permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI). He has now been asked to appear before the Fatehgarh Sahib DSP (Detective) on Tuesday.
When contacted, Naresh Kadyan said Abhishek had already sent an email giving his detailed statement. “I would take that statement in person as well to Fatehgarh Sahib police tomorrow,” Naresh said, adding that it was a “non-cognizable” offence and the violation carries a penalty from Rs 50 to Rs 500. “There is no provision for an FIR. Only the cattle feed manufacturer could be asked to pay a fine and would have to get the advertisement off air. Due to this mild punitive action, the atrocities on animals continues,” said Naresh.
Tiwana Oil Mills Pvt Limited MD Satnam Singh Tiwana, meanwhile, said: “We were not aware that permission was required for using a buffalo in the ad. Neither the channels (on which ad was aired) nor those who made the ad told us about it. I have told the police that if there is any violation, we would seek permission before airing the ad next time. The ad had been off air for the last one year. They may have seen it on YouTube.”
Naresh has also lodged a separate online complaint against another feed manufacturer, Tara Health Foods Limited in a similar case. In his complaint, Naresh has alleged that in an ad, a buffalo was shown tied while no permission was obtained from AWBI by the company. The advertisement has comedian Jaswinder Bhalla promoting the feed with buffalos.
When contacted, AWBI Chairman Maj Gen (Retd) Dr R M Kharb said: “I have referred the case to a committee in AWBI. Buffalo is not a performing animal. So, a simple photograph of a buffalo in a video shoot does not amount to violation until and unless it is treated cruelly.” Naresh, however, claimed that any animal that has been filmed, has performed and thus, permission was needed to be taken from AWBI.
Tara Health Foods Limited Chairman Jaswant Singh, on the other hand, said: “There would have been violation had we made the buffalo do some acts. As far as permission is concerned, we would apply for the same. The complainant is unnecessarily creating an issue out of nothing.”

'Mining taking heavy toll on Goa's wildlife'

Panaji: Incessant digging that had been taking place around Goa's forests in search for iron ore has taken a heavy toll on wild animals and other species, according to environmentalists. 

Rock pythons and king cobras have been found dead in these areas, where rare species of reptiles and birds had to bear the brunt of rampant mining activity, animal rescue organisations and environmentalists in the state have said. 

"We have rescued hungry and unhealthy pythons from the villages located near mining leases in Bicholim taluka. Rare reptiles like king cobra were lying crushed under stones," Amrut Singh, founder, Animal Rescue Squad (ARS), told. 

Singh's voluntary group, with more than 100 volunteers trained to rescue snakes and wild animals, receive regular distress calls from people living on periphery of mines. "King cobra, russell viper, saw scaled vipers are often rescued from homes adjacent to the mining leases in Bicholim," he said. 

Bicholim, an iron-ore rich belt, is nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats. The eco-sensitive area houses nearly 70 per cent of birds and reptiles found in the Ghats. 

Singh recalls how decades back flying snakes were sighted in the area, which now stands devastated in search of iron ore that is exported to China. "Some snake species are on verge of extinction. Ceylon cat, beddome's cat and ornate cake snakes, found in abundance early, are rarely sighted." 

Bicholim locals have reported an unusual phenomenon -- crocodiles being sighted on busy streets during night. An ARS volunteer explained that since marshy areas in the river bed are getting silted with iron ore and mud, the crocodiles venture out to find new water bodies. 

A little further from Bicholim, in remote Sattari taluka, is Gavane, a village tucked between three wildlife sanctuaries, which has seen several Indian bison, Goa's state animal, found dead in mining pits. 

Environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar said on many occasions, bison, the largest bovine of India, had been spotted lying in the mining pits. 


I don’t like the idea of horse-drawn carriages: Shibani Dandekar

Animal activists in India, who have been fighting to get Victoria carriages off the roads in the city, have found support abroad. Over 100 Italian animal lovers protested outside the Indian embassy in Rome, to press for a total ban on horse-drawn carriages. 

Sometime back, the Bombay High Court had accepted a PIL on the issue of banning horses that draw Victoria carriages. Recently, one such horse was left injured opposite a SoBo theatre, thanks to its reckless handler. While these carriages have been a part of the city's history, is it time to bid them adieu to spare the horses from cruelty, and to reduce traffic risks posed by them? And what happens to the people who make a living by operating these rides? Is there a viable solution that would be acceptable to both animal lovers and horse-owners? These are just some of the questions we posed to people, who feel strongly about this issue and this is what they had to say.

Shibani Dandekar, Television host
I don't think these carriages should be allowed at all. Not for any other reason than animal cruelty. There are other options that they can explore. I don't like the idea of horse-drawn carriages and dancing monkeys on our streets. Let the animals be. There should be rules and regulations for anyone driving any sort of vehicle in the city, to avoid accidents where animals are injured or killed.

Rahul da Cunha, Theatre Personality
Cruelty towards any animal is a crime against all animals — not just horses pulling tongas. What about a ban on bullock carts and bullocks pulling ploughs?

Vijender Singh, boxer
While Victorias have historical significance, I think it is inhuman to treat animals like that. I saw the plight of the horses during one of my recent visits to Mumbai and it was heart-rending. They are overworked and not kept healthy and clean. I don't know how tourists even feel like taking rides in these carriages. A solution could be to allocate an enclosed area for these rides, where no other vehicles are permitted. A union or governing body should also be appointed to ensure that the animals are taken care of.

Why horses and cars don't mix 
Back in July, actress Zeenat Aman had written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, calling for a total ban on horse-drawn carriages within the city. Zeenat told TOI, "As humans, we can express ourselves, but animals can't do that. Hence, it's very important that someone steps forward to speak for them. Most of these horses are treated very badly — they have injuries, but are made to work despite that. If you are going to put the animals to work, you should ensure that they are well taken care of, that their needs are met and they are not exploited. This goes for any animal, be it elephants on the roads or any other animal who is neglected and abandoned."

Monday, 29 October 2012

Social vegetating

Monika Siriya, 29, eagerly awaits the monthly vegan potluck lunches in Mumbai. At these lunches, a group of 20 vegans in the city bring along a vegan food dish they have prepared, leading to a sumptuous spread of dishes like tofu bhurji, mock meats like sausages (prepared with wheat and soya), Gujarati kadhi (made with groundnut milk), baked potatoes, salads, various kinds of cheese, cakes and even vegan ice-cream.
“At one of these lunches, someone brought a delicious masala milk, where cow’s milk was substituted with milk from almonds and brown rice. There is so much creativity,” she says. Siriya confesses that these monthly affairs are a great opportunity for vegans to come together on a common platform. “It’s a very light atmosphere. We share tips, recipes, talk about challenges faced while cooking, health problems, and also interact with non-vegans who are interested in this lifestyle.”
Siriya and her husband have been strict vegans for two years now and she feels that her food options are anything but restrictive. She makes all the dishes that a non-vegan would eat by finding suitable alternatives. “I make tea with cashew milk. You just have to blend the cashews with water and it tastes exactly like milk tea,” says Siriya.
These vegan communities are not restricted to Mumbai alone. Cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and New Delhi have their own vegan groups that interact on a regular basis. The roots of veganism in India can be traced back to 1957 when the country played host to the first major event by the International Vegetarian Union, says Shankar Narayan, president of the Indian Vegan Society. Susmitha, a jewellery designer based in Bengaluru, is an active member of the Bengaluru Vegans group and made the switch to veganism 9 years ago. On her blog called, Susmitha regularly posts interesting recipes of dishes like gulab jamun made with sweet potatoes, rolls with spicy peanut sauce and baked akki (rice) rotis. The dishes made by vegans vary according to the palates of the cities they live in. Vegans in south India look at interesting twists to the regular curd rice and idlis. “When I turned vegan, my first thought was how I would survive without curd. But curd rice is a common dish at our monthly lunches. The curd in the curd rice is made from peanut milk and the texture is near-perfect, apart from the taste,” asserts Susmitha. There are also desserts like vegan chocolate mousse, which is tofu or avocado-based and chocolate truffles made with dates, cocoa powder and walnuts.
Like the Mumbai group, the Bengaluru vegan meet-up is open to everyone ranging from vegans, vegetarians and people who would like to learn about veganism and sample some dishes. “Apart from sharing experiences, we also have movie screenings, distribute leaflets and discuss how we can promote veganism,” says Susmitha.
Most vegans ardently take up the challenge of working their way around non-vegan food. When Rithika Ramesh turned vegan three years ago, she took her love of cooking further by starting The Green Stove, a first-of-its-kind vegan bakery in Mumbai. “A vegan cake, that’s made without eggs or butter, tastes equally delicious,” she says.
Health benefits
Until eight years ago, macrobiotic counselor and chef Shonali Sabharwal was a hardcore non-vegetarian. However, she suffered from candida, a kind of yeast infection, and frequent trips to different doctors didn’t help get rid of the problem. Her research revealed that dairy aided candida and meat led to a lot of toxic buildup in the body. “Cows are given growth hormone injections, the end products of which end up in our diet,” she says. “I made the switch in phases, giving up my most favourite meat first and least favourite, last.” The candida disappeared shortly after she turned vegan, apart from helping her lose a lot of weight. Today, Sabharwal prepares dressings like mayonnaise with silken tofu.

Vegans attribute a reduction in stress levels to a non-dairy diet. “When calves are separated from their mother, the cow undergoes a lot of stress, just like a human mother would. This stress hormone is passed on in the milk we consume,” explains Monika Siriya.
There are a lot of myths associated with a vegan lifestyle, especially of not getting enough nutrients and vitamin B12 deficiencies, says Dr Nandita Shah, a vegan and founder of SHARAN, a non-profit organisation aimed at spreading holistic health awareness. “B12 deficiencies are common even in non-vegans. Alcohol consumption and microwaving products destroys the B12 vitamin,” she points out.
Creamy Vegan Tofu Mayonnaise
1 pack of silken tofu or any tofu which has a creamy consistency (you may need to add soy milk to get this)

2 tbsp lemon juicel1 tbsp miso (white)
2 tsp of olive oil
Method Steam tofu in a steamer for 3-5 minutes; let it cool for a bit. Add all the ingredients to your whipper and whip together. The mayonnaise is ready to eat.
Variation: You can also 1 tsp of mustard to it to give it a twist (especially good for your liver)
Courtesy: Shonali Sabharwal

Mashed and Sweet Potato bake
5 medium potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
1 cup spinach
10-12 baby corn
Olive oil
Tabasco sauce
Bread crumbsl

Method: Preheat oven to 225°C. Boil, peel and mash potatoes and sweet potatoes. Blanch spinach and chop roughly. Slice baby corn into rounds. Mix all the ingredients except tabasco sauce and the bread crumbs. Press into a baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and press lightly. Bake at 225 °C for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 180 °C and continue baking for 30 more minutes. Let it cool in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Serve hot with tabasco sauce. 
Courtesy: Susmitha

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

50000 animals sacrificed for Chhattar

BHUBANESWAR: Like every year, faith took precedence over reasoning at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district. Nearly 50,000 animals were sacrificed along the main thoroughfares of the town on Monday to propitiate Manikeswari during 'Bijaya Yatra' of the annual Chhattar festival.
This happened despite the best efforts of the administration to check animal sacrifice. The number is 20% more compared to last year, sources said.
"Animal sacrifice took place despite our best efforts. We had launched awareness campaigns a week before the festival, but that didn't bear fruit," said SP (Kalahandi) S Ahmed.
More that one lakh people took part in the procession of Manikeswari, the presiding deity of the area. She was taken in a procession from Jenakhal after Sandhi puja to Bhawanipatna, which is the permanent abode of the deity, amid the rhythmic beats of Jenabadya, Nisan and Ghanta (traditional musical instruments) and dancers performing 'Ghumura' and martial art forms.
Devotees lined up along the road for a glimpse of the goddess. "We believe that we will get rid of out vices and diseases by sacrificing animals. Every year we participate in the festival to invoke the deity's blessings," said Madhu Chandan, a devotee.
The municipality authorities were asked to clean the bloodied roads after the festival. "We engaged around 50 sweepers to clean the roads after the rituals. The civic body was entrusted with the cleaning work two days before the festival," said Loknath Tiwari, executive officer of the municipality.
Every year before the start of the sacrifice ritual on Asthami, two swords belonging to the goddess are washed in the pond located behind the Bhawanipatna royal palace. These are then worshipped and brought back to the temple in a procession. Then a buffalo is sacrificed at the Budharaja or Vairab temple, a satellite shrine of the Manikeswari temple.
This is the only time the deity is worshipped during the year. Following this ritual, the Chhattar or umbrella of the goddess, along with two swords of the deity, are taken out for the procession.

Injured Victoria horse rescued from Colaba

MUMBAI: People For Animals (PFA) activists rescued a young horse that was visibly in pain and limping while pulling a Victoria at Colaba on Sunday night. They sent it to an animal hospital in Parel.
"Though a young horse, it's foot was swollen near the joint. It had turned red due to over-exploitation by its handlers. It was in so much pain, it would kick up the moment anybody touched its leg. And yet, it was cruelly being made to work on the streets. We have lodged a complaint against it's owner at the Colaba police station," said PFA trustee Poonam Mahajan.
She said PFA had received multiple calls from concerned citizens who had noticed the limping horse and another one at the Gateway of India. The horse's hawk and fetlock joints were swollen and the entire leg red from the immense pressure the animal was in.
The horse's condition was akin to a human with a swollen ankle and knee being made to pull a heavy Victoria. "A designated vet approves licence for these horses. One wonders what conditions the vets take into account if they freely give licences to lame horses," said PFA activist Ambika Hiranandani.
"The doctors say the horse's joints are swollen and accumulated fluid has solidified, which is why the animal is in pain. I requested the handler, Mohammed, to send the animal to hospital as an X-ray was urgently needed. He refused and, as usual, dozens of them surrounded me and started yelling. They kept touching the horse's leg. The horse kept trying to kick them as it was in great pain," said Rachel Koyama, who heads PFA's field operations. Exasperated, she then called Colaba police who instantly came to the animal's rescue.
"Even tourists are shocked at the animals' plight. Italian animal welfare organizations are holding a protest outside the Indian Embassy in Rome on October 25. This is organised by Animal lover Helen Dufton, an India enthusiast. Animal lovers are even taking a wow not to return to Mumbai until the Victorias are banned," said Mahajan.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Illegal slaughterhouse raided by PFA activists in Thane

MUMBAI: People for Animals, an NGO chaired by Maneka Gandhi, rescued 21 large animals including cows and bullocks during a recent raid to an illegal slaughterhouse in Thane (rural) district.
The activists had received a tip-off that cows and calves were being blatantly slaughtered in Wada area by butchers. So, with the help of Thane (rural) police, they raided the illegal slaughterhouse and got the butchers arrested on the spot.
The field officer for PFA, Chetan Sharma, led his team of volunteers during this successful raid. He has also been instrumental in the shutting down of multiple illegal slaughter houses in Maharashtra, including a notorious one in Koparkhairane in Navi Mumbai. In the latest raid at Wada, the slaughterhouse was owned and run by one Nazim Kuthe and his son Salman Kuthe.
They were charged under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1973 and provisions of the Indian Penal Code. When we got there we found blood strewn everywhere and we also found two huge axes also covered with blood. There were 21 cows and calves waiting to be slaughtered,'' said Sharma. He has filed the FIR against the butchers under sections 397 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 5, 6, 9 and 11 of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act.