Thursday, 31 May 2012

Gir Sanctuary authorities construct water ponds for animals

Gir Sanctuary authorities construct water ponds for animals

Veraval: Authorities in the Sasan Gir National Park in Gujarat, which houses the largest number of Asiatic Lions, have constructed artificial water ponds for animals, as they often stray out towards human habitation in search of water to seek relief from the intense heat. 

With the mercury soaring each passing day and natural water sources drying up, the forest authorities have constructed water ponds, which are filled periodically by tractor-driven tankers for the animals to quench their thirst. Babra Range Forest Officer R D Vansh said the ponds are filled with water twice a day. 

"The babra vidi falls under the Veraval range of the Junagadh district of Gujarat Forest Department. Total 14 lions are present in the babra vidi, out of which three are females, three are males and eight are cubs. Other then these 50-60 are spotted deer and 108 are blue bull. The forest department has constructed three artificial ponds for these animals, which are filled with water twice in a day," said Vansh. 

However, such instances of wild animals entering into human populated regions are quite common because of human encroachments on animal habitats, which restrict their movement leading to man-animal conflict. 

Established in 1965, the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Sasan Gir, is the sole home of the majestic Asiatic Lions. 

Covering a total area of 1412 kilometres, about 258 kilometres for the fully protected area (the National Park) and 1153 kilometres for the Sanctuary, the area is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species. 

Seven rivers that pass through Gir namely Hiran, Saraswati, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Ghodavadi, and Raval have started drying up. 

Less than 250 watering points are presently available for lions, leopards, ungulates, including spotted deer, Sambar, Nilgai, Chinkara, antelope, and wild boar. Besides, Gir harbours around thousand species of birds and 26 species of reptiles. 

Reward for info on dog fights

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) An animal rights NGO Thursday announced a Rs.10,000 reward for information on people involved in illegal dog fights.
The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) said it come across "horrendous" pictures of dog fights in a ring in Haryana. These pictures were "very proudly" shared by an individual who is suspected to be a resident of Kotkapura in Punjab, the federation said in a statement.
"On going through his Facebook profile in detail, it was believed that he was not only a viewer but also an active participant in this sort of activity," the statement added.
FIAPO's reward announcement is a follow-up to the complaint filed with both the Punjab and the Haryana police by the Animal Welfare Board of India against the individual, asking for strict, just and immediate action.
Using of any animal for fighting, according to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is a punishable cognizable offence.
The PCA Act, in section III, (1)(n) clearly states that it is illegal to "organise, keep, use or act in the management or, any place for animal fighting or for the purpose of baiting any animal or permit or offer any place to be so used or receives money for the admission of any other person to any place kept or used for any such purposes".
FIAPO CEO Arpan Sharma said: "This is not the first time that such sort of any activity has been reported. Back in January, a dog-fight betting racket was busted in Gurgaon. It is about time the general public and the people involved in these crimes wake up and take the law seriously."
FIAPO campaign coordinator Alokparna Sengupta said complaints can be registered with it at 09871877373 or 09849094113.
"Upon the arrest and conviction of the accused, these whistleblowers will be duly rewarded. Their names shall not be revealed, if required. It is important that such sort of a cruel practice is stopped, for once and for all," Sengupta added.

Indian Peacekeepers Treat 15,000 Animals in South Sudan

New York, May 31 (IANS): Indian peacekeepers have treated over 15,000 animals in conflict-hit South Sudan since 2011, the head of its veterinary unit said.

The veterinary unit of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) Indian Battalion in Malakal town have treated over 15,000 animals free of charge since last year, said the unit's head Lt. Col. Ravinder Yadav.

"We have conducted training on public health for community animal health workers from various counties and students of the Upper Nile University," a communique quoted Yadav as saying.

Most of the animals that have been treated were cows, donkeys, sheep and goats. Yadav said there are plans to open a new facility for the treatment of small animals like cats, chickens and monkeys.

The veterinary unit has been providing medical treatment and training courses since 2005, said James Ajak Obong of the state Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries.

"We appreciate the support provided by the Indian veterinary unit (who have) provided drugs for animals as well as training our local staff on how to carry out the vaccination and surgery in the field where medical doctors are not available," said Obong.

Censor board to get more strict on animal welfare

When it comes to using animals in films, it looks like Indian filmmakers are in for even tougher times ahead. A letter from animal activist Maneka Gandhi to the Minister Of Information & Broadcasting Ms Ambika Soni has set of a flurry of activity in official quarters of the government. The letter dated 22 March 2012 from Ms Gandhi to Ms Soni clearly alleges that Bollywood film producers are "making a fool" of the Animal Welfare Board Of India (AWBI) and the censor board.

In the letter Maneka Gandhi says, "They (the producers) send a script but will not mention animal activity in India or will give wrong activity.Then when the film is shot they send the CD for approval to the AWBI without the schemes involving animals in it. The AWBI gives the NOC (No Objection Certificate) on the basis of the CD. The producer then reinstates the scenes and goes to the censor board with the NOC. These scenes are usually very violent. The censor board instead of questioning these scenes which are blatantly cruel, simply take it for granted that they have an NOC and pass the film."

The letter goes on to give the example of Sajid Nadiadwala's Housefull 2 where Akshay Kumar is seen wrestling crocodiles and a python.

Ms Gandhi also accuses some regional officers of the CBFC of "blatantly ignoring the rules." She cites the example of the Tamil film Adukulam where the rooster fights that were the film's mainstay had not been approved of by the AWBI.

The letter has triggered a flurry of debate within the censor board. A source from the censor board says there are radical changes on the anvil regarding the depiction of animals in Hindi films.

Says our source, "It will no longer be easy for filmmakers to bypass rules regarding animals. For example Nadiadwala shot the scenes with pythons and crocodiles outside India. That exempted the scenes with the animals from scrutiny and rectification by the AWBI and CBFC. The censor board is in the process of covering such loopholes."

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Rippling muscles, wizened faces, indomitable spirit

BANGALORE: When thousands of Bangaloreans put on their sneakers and braced for a run with the early-morning breeze hitting their face at the Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday, all that ruled their mind was the sheer joy and spirit of doing a run.

From industrialists to actors to techies to students; the young and the old - they were all there, braving the sun that got harsher by the minute and the run that got tougher by the mile. Even after a strenuous morning drill, the smiles on the participants' faces didn't wane. Stamina kept a steady pace with enthusiasm.

A regular at long-distance runs, Bollywood actor Rahul Bose, who ran on Sunday, tweeted, "Beautiful day for running in Bangalore. Felt easy and fluid today. Did world 10K run in 54 minutes. Was good for 5k more."

The senior-citizens category stole the show. Dressed in bright yellow, 785 energetic senior citizens won big applause with 104-year-old Krishnaiah and 102-year-old Subbalakshmi emerging clean winners. Krishnaiah said: "My next four generations are in front of me. I'm elated. I couldn't run, but I'm happy I could encourage the rest of the participants."

A reluctant first-timer who finished the race, Chandra Layout's 73-year-old Mythili Krishnan is thrilled: "My children and grandchildren encouraged me to join the race. Such events help us be fit mentally and physically."
The open 10K category broke all barriers. TS Chalapathi, a 64-year-old, pounded the road along with his five-year-old grandson. "We are three generations running today. This is my fourth year at Bangalore 10K and I finished my race in 1 hour, 10 minutes against last year's 1 hour, 24 minutes. My son and grandson were equally excited about the race," an elated Chalapathi said.

The wheelchair category proved once again - if it was ever required, at all - that the human spirit is supreme. The fun quotient was aplenty in the Majja Run that saw 11,018 participants hit the road. NGOs provided a touch of seriousness, beaming social causes.

Environment, vegetarianism and charities were some of the themes that created ripples during the run. Vegan Arun Rangasamy ran barefoot, promoting veganism. "Going vegan is the most preferred way to live. After they were detected with deadly diseases, many sportspersonalities have resorted to veganism. I ran to promote the cause," said Arun.

There was action off-track too. A group of 50 volunteers from Saahas, an organization to rid the city of waste management, ensured the place was garbage free. Its volunteers ran with bins and scooped up the waste to be sent for recycling. "Some 95% of the 1.5 tons of waste - plastic, papers and tetrapacks - expected to be generated at the event will be recycled," said Wilma Rodrigues of Saahas.

Cool for men, but hot and humid for women
The early morning showers that lashed the city came as blessing to thousands of runners. The elite men runners, mainly from African nations, got the full benefit of the weather and the winner finished close to the course record that was set in 2008. The women runners, who started an hour later, weren't so lucky as the temperatures shot up drastically. Adding to their discomfort was the rising humidity. The effect of the heat wave reflected in their timings too.
Late risers & thin crowds

The early start meant there were fewer people to cheer the runners The saving grace was the growing number of cheer leaders organized by the sponsors and thousands who came in to race. "It's too much to expect the locals to be up so early and supporting the athletes. It is different in European cities. The 10K race in London starts at 11 am as there is no worry about the temperatures," race director Hugh Jones said. How about an evening race?

Growing Participation
'Run as One' was the theme around which the latest edition of the World 10K rallied. And as statistics show the number of serious runners in the city has been growing at a rapid pace. As many as 9,000 runners participated in the Open 10K race which saw enthusiastic amateurs too join in. The masses soon melted into staggered packs and lone runners. The common aim was a decent finish irrespective of the timing and this most of them managed. Groups assembled at points comparing notes - how much distance they covered and how soon.

Timing chip-tap dance
Many athletes made sure their footsteps were heard extra-loud on specially- designed floor mats at a few points along the route. They were eager to ensure that they successfully registered their time with the help of chips attached to their boots. A small disc-like device, the timing chip is read by a sensor placed on the mat which immediately transmits the runner's data and time to a collection point. At one point along the way, a giant screen even displayed names of runners who had completed a set distance.

24 jumbo deaths in dry spell

Bangalore, May 28: The Karnataka forest department is grappling with dehydration-related deaths of wild elephants in a reserve forest teeming with pachyderms.The situation is such that 24 elephants have died between January and May this year in the Nagarhole forest, around 230km south of Bangalore.

The post-mortem on the carcasses indicated they died of dehydration-related problems. Only 13 deaths, mostly because of old age, were recorded during the same period in 2011.“Our animal health experts have found that many of these elephants died because of stomach infections after drinking contaminated water,” said chief conservator of forests Ajai Mishra. With the water holes drying up, wild animals, including elephants, drink whatever they find.

The official explanation is that the watering holes dried up for lack of summer rain, which the state usually gets aplenty. But this year’s excessive heat — when even the “salubrious” Bangalore sizzled at nearly 40 degrees Celsius — has only added to the woes of man and animal alike. The state is criticised every year for “poor handling” of water supplies to the people, especially in northern Karnataka where the shortage is acute. But wild animals, entirely dependent on water holes, are left with no alternative but wait for the monsoon.

A recent three-day census of the elephant population in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Maharashtra could throw up more details on the numbers, but the death of so many pachyderms in such a short span of time has left the officials worried.An elephant census conducted five years ago had put the all-India number at 27,694. Of this, Karnataka had the most number of elephants, around 5,900. The entire Nilgiri biosphere reserve of nearly 14,000sqkm, which stretches into neighbouring Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is home to nearly 8,000 elephants.
The Nilgiri reserve includes the 640sqkm Nagarhole forest.

However, Ajay Desai, a wildlife expert and former member of a task force on elephants, said there could be other reasons for the deaths. “Elephants, like humans, die of old age and diseases. So we need to keep that in mind. But this year has been extremely bad for wildlife and lack of rain is just one the issues,” Desai told The Telegraph. The severe drought has also affected the regeneration of foliage that elephants feed on.

Animal welfare board steps in to end 'crude' castration

Chennai, May 28 (PTI) Noting that a "crude" way of cattle castration persisted in the country which amounted to cruelty, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has written to the Veterinary Council of India seeking to make sedation of cattle mandatory during the process. AWBI Chairman Dr R M Kharb has written recently to VCI, saying the "crude" method of restraint and castration in many veterinary polyclinics and hospitals was often performed on the animal by casting it on the ground and then using a Burdizzo castrator to crush the spermatic cord. "This crude method carried without the use of sedatives or anaesthetics causes the animal to experience immense pain, fear and stress, which amounts to cruelty as per Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960," he said in the letter. 

This, therefore, was a "punishable offence." Stressing the need for sedatives on the animals, he said they reduce or even eliminate fear and pain during castration and options include short-acting local anaesthetics to longer-acting pain-relief drugs. All states Vetrinary Councils and Directors, State Animal Husbandry be advised to direct government veterinary hospitals to ensure castrations were performed using sedations, he said. The Animal Husbandry departments of all state governments were advised to delineate a standard operating procedure (SOP) for field castrations in large animals, which should include use of sedatives anaesthesia and to create inventories of drugs and equipment for this purpose, failure of which "calls for strict action," under the PCA Act, 1960 he said. Meanwhile, Animal rights advocacy group, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr Manilal Valliyate welcomed the move saying it will benefit both the bulls and the cattle-owners. 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

PETA Delegation Meets Maharashtra CM

A delegation from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India met with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan yesterday evening to present a letter from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) objecting to plans to build a dolphin park in Sindhudurg. The delegation also presented a dossier containing opposition to the park (a Rs 510 crore project) from the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, the Humane Society International and world-renowned dolphin expert Ric O'Barry, who was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove. The film, which exposed the cruelty of capturing dolphins and confining them to marine parks, shocked the world. During the meeting, Minister Chavan took serious notice of the MoEF objection.

"With the objections of the central government, non-governmental organisations, animal welfare experts, and the local and international public, it's high time for the Maharashtra government to shelve plans for the ill-conceived Sindhudurg dolphin park", says Dr Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs for PETA India. "If even a fraction of the Rs 510 crore cost of the dolphin park project was instead channelled towards helping endangered dolphins in nature, it would go a long way in ensuring the protection of these intelligent animals."

In its letter, the MoEF points out that The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, prohibits the hunting and capturing of wild animals. The letter goes on to say that the Member Secretary of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has stated that the "objective of the said water park does not conform to the objective of its operation, i.e., conservation of wildlife, as laid down under Rule 10 (1) of the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 2009" and that "the operation of the Water Park for extracting performance out of the animals shall also be [a] violation of Rules 10 (11) (2) of Recognition of Zoo Rules, 2009." It adds that based on similar previous proposals, the CZA has found that keeping dolphins and other marine animals in captivity leads to their "inadequate care" and death because such facilities are not prepared to care for them.

In their rightful ocean homes, dolphins inhabit a vast and complex world. They establish close, cooperative and long-standing relationships. They live in large, intricate social groups, swim together in family pods and can travel up to 100 miles a day. Dolphins used in marine parks are violently torn away from their families and confined to small tanks in which they can swim in only mind-numbing circles. Most captive dolphins live to be only half the age of wild dolphins.

Emory University scientists recently determined that the cognitive capacity of dolphins is second only to that of humans. At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – the world's largest science conference – experts in the fields of philosophy, conservation and animal behaviour argued that dolphins should be treated as nonhuman "persons" with their rights to life and liberty respected.
In Brazil and Costa Rica, it is illegal to use marine mammals for entertainment. Israel has prohibited the importation of dolphins for use in marine parks, and Canada no longer allows beluga whales to be captured and exported. In the US, the state of South Carolina has banned exhibits of whales and dolphins.

Too much pampering could harm your pet

LUDHIANA: With the mercury soaring high, the pet lovers in the city are known to pamper their priced possessions a little too much. Experts say the pets do need extra care during summer but that doesn't mean they should be kept in air conditioned rooms and taken around in cars. 

Dogs, particularly puppies, need extra care during summer. As the heat increases, the cases of kidney failure also rise. If vomiting and dehydration in dogs goes unchecked, it could cause a major problem within a day, says Dr Ravinder Mohan Bhardwaj, a co-opted member of Animal Welfare Board of India. 

Bhardwaj said the pet owners tend to keep dogs in AC rooms, but this shouldn't be avoided as it would make the dog lazy and obese. Certain breeds, like saint bernard, can be left in air conditioned rooms for a short while so that they don't become habitual. 

Jaspreet Singh, a veterinary doctor from the city, says even sun light is very important for dogs, as it is a free source of vitamin D3, which is essential for bone development among dogs.

Harish Jassal, a dog trainer and breeder, said instead of keeping dogs in closed AC rooms, they should be kept in naturally cool shaded places. The ones which are older than six months can be left to cool themselves in water tubs with just enough water that isn't dangerous according to dog's size. 

''I have a little Shih Tzu puppy and this small bath tub in which we allow this little kid to enjoy himself. We ensure the water level is low and doesn't cause any danger to the puppy,'' said Geena Saharan, a Sarabha Nagar resident.

One lakh stray dogs in Patna

PATNA: Stray dogs are a big menace in the state capital, with about one lakh of them roaming the city streets. As a result, Patnaites in almost every locality face a serious threat of dog bite these days.

Sources said the Patna Municipal Corporation(PMC) has no animal birth control programmeto sterilize the stray ones. So, there is no way to check the growing number of canines.

Sources said PMC had a post of dog shooter about 10 years back. But now, killing of canines is not allowed by courts, which have ruled in the past that stray dogs should be sterilized, not killed. Only if a dog is rabid or wounded or incurably ill, it can be killed by the authorities by following rules and guidelines.

PMC commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pal said, "PMC deploys some sanitation workers to catch the stray canines on a regular basis from every locality. They put the canines in a vehicle and abandon them in remote areas out of the city."

The PMC floated a tender about six months back to outsource the animal birth control programme, but there was no takers for it. The civic body has a sanctioned post of a veterinarian, which is lying vacant for the last few years.
"People want us to take away stray dogs from their locality, especially during summer when they keep lying on the streets. People get disturbed by their barking. Such dogs tend to attack every new person entering the locality," said Sudhir Kumar, assistant health officer, PMC. He said that with extermination being illegal, they are left with the only option of catching and leaving the stray dogs at some isolated place.

Debojyoti Ghosh, an associate of People for Animal Society, said, "This procedure is also inhumane as the abandoned dogs would not be able to mix with other canines of the new locality. They would not get proper food and might die due to starvation."

Arjun Bhengra, a retired state government employee said, "PMC should be serious in their approach as the presence of such dogs in streets has made the situation difficult for children." One Anil Choudhary said, "I had to move from pillar to post for vaccine after my son was bitten by a stray dog."

Maneka intervenes to save langur but too late for the animal

NAGPUR: The state forest department may go all out to rescue and treat injured tigers but it is much less keen when it comes to lesser fauna like monkeys. So much so that environmentalist and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi had to call up state's principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) SWH Naqvi to save a rescued langur. The animal later died to due to negligence.
While tigers are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, monkeys (common langurs) are listed under Schedule II and hence are property of the forest department. On Thursday evening, a full-grown female langur had suffered injuries to its left palm due to electric current after it touched a live wire while jumping on a mango tree in Somalwada area.
Eyewitness and animal lover Anup Thakur said the shock was so severe that the langur, along with its baby tied to her, fell down and could not move. Other langurs in the troop picked up the baby monkey but the mother could not move due to injuries.
"I saw the small baby trying to pull its mother but it couldn't. Even as other monkeys climbed up the tree with the baby, I called up People for Animals (PFA) activist Karishma Galani," Thakur said. Thakur knew Galani as he had called her up earlier to rescue a stray dog.
Galani reached the spot with an animal rescue van of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) and took the injured monkey to veterinarian Dr Rajendra Mahajan in Dhantoli, who treated the animal.
On Friday morning, Galani took the monkey to veterinary polyclinic near Alankar talkies where Dr M S Dhakate treated it. As the monkey was in shock, strong treatment could not be given.
At 1pm, Galani brought the langur to Deer Park at Seminary Hills where other monkeys rescued by her are kept. She talked to range forest officer (RFO) Deepak Nandanwar but he was rude. Galani alleged that Nandanwar was reluctant to accept the monkey unless he received a call from deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) P K Mahajan.
"Nandanwar told me that he did not want to make Seminary Hills a zoo," Galani told TOI. She later called up all the senior forest officials including principal secretary (forests) but did not get response as all said they were busy in meetings.
Frustrated, Galani took up the matter with Maneka Gandhi. The BJP leader and MP from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh called up Naqvi and within minutes forest guard Kishore Kadwe reached the Deer Park to accept the monkey.
"It was 4pm when Kadwe arrived. The monkey was stranded in blistering heat for nearly three hours," said Galani. Maneka later confirmed to TOI that she had called up Naqvi. "It's unfortunate. The forest department should have accepted the injured animal right away," she said.
Naqvi said he instructed the staff to accept the animals after Maneka's call. "I have warned the RFO concerned for his improper approach. We will release the rescued monkeys at Seminary Hills during monsoon," Naqvi said.
However, when wildlife vet Dr Bahar Bawiskar went to treat the monkey in the evening, it had died.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Heartbroken dogs

Home forever: Give your dog a life-long commitment. Photo: N. Sridharan

Abandoning your aging pet is as bad as throwing out your old parents, explain activists
Animal welfare activist Rohit Iyer is exasperated. The 23-year-old volunteer at Blue Cross of India's Chennai shelter observes a steep increase in the number of people abandoning their loyal friends without remorse or hesitation. “People often think that dogs lamenting about their owners happens only in movies, but I know that they really do,” says Rohit who helps rehabilitate these dogs in the hope of finding them new homes.
“Many do not eat for a very long time,” he says, adding that some depressed dogs actually have to be force-fed. “There's one Spitz who was abandoned two weeks ago. Every time someone walks into the shelter, she goes up to them and stares at them. She follows them from the reception to the gate and keeps hoping someone will pick her up.”
He recalls an instance where a terrified Rajapalayam dog was left tied to a tree with such a short leash that he nearly strangulated himself while cowering in fear of the noisy traffic. In yet another instance of appalling cruelty, a family abandoned their two-year-old mongrel in peak hour traffic. By the time volunteers rushed to his rescue, the mongrel had darted in front of an unsuspecting van driver's vehicle and was crushed to death on the spot.
Rohit often finds himself persuading people not to forsake their aged dogs when they need their owners the most. “Someone called me to say their dog was 15 and had failing eyesight, and asked if the shelter could take him,” he reports. “I asked him: would you abandon your children, or your parents?”
The common victims of this phenomenon are dogs above age 10. “People want the dog to be the same throughout its life,” he says of the trend. “But a 15-year-old dog is like a 90-year-old person. They try hard for your sake not to soil the place or cause you any inconvenience.” Rohit's own rescued dog lived up to the ripe age of 20 and he believes that one must not adopt an animal unless they are ready for this long-term commitment to love and care for them.
“A dog that is used to a home will never fare well anywhere else,” he says, appealing to people not to betray their best friends. In the meantime, he watches these forsaken friends wait patiently and eagerly for a sign that they will be loved again.

Kerala: Elephant rampage incidents on the rise

Thiruvananthapuram: More and more incidents of elephants on rampage are being reported in Kerala. This has brought the focus back on the debate on the parading of animals at festivals.
A toddler was killed and 25 others injured in a stampede when a tusker ran amok in the festivities at the famous Koodal Manikkam Temple in the Thrissur district. In another incident, 62 were injured as the result of an elephant rampage during the famous Thrissur Pooram festivities. Such incidents on the rise in God's own country are causing a wave of concern.
The recent incidents of elephant rampages in Kerala have once again raised the debate about parading the animal for various festivals. Though there are many rules and regulations on paper, both by the Union and state governments, the big question is how much of it is followed on the ground.
The Kerala Forest Department rules state that the public must be kept at a safe distance and startling or high volume sounds should not be produced near the elephant. In both the instances when the elephant ran amok, none of the conditions were followed.
The rules also state, when the elephant is in musth, it should not be paraded as the elephant is likely to be more aggressive during this period. The elephant at Thrissur Pooram, that went on a rampage was in fact in Musth.
People for Animals (PFA) member Latha said, "There are cases that have been registered against the culprits. But has anybody been punished or even fines imposed in the past several years? There is no follow up from the authorities."
The government agrees that better enforcement is needed. Until the government acts tough and ensures the owners of temple elephants look after them better, this jumbo problem is not likely to go away.

Withdraw undergarment ad featuring roosters: ASCI

Advertisers of Euro Fashion Innerwear were Wednesday asked by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to withdraw an advertisement featuring roosters, saying it depicted the birds in a bad light.

The directive came in response to a complaint by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation (FIAPO) against the print advertisement that depicted nude men holding roosters to cover their privates with a tagline: "What's your size?"

FIAPO said the advertisement violated the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and called it distasteful and vulgar.

ASCI said the advertisement contravened Chapter II of the ASCI Code. Its consumer complaints council (CCC) concluded that the advertisement was indecent, vulgar and repulsive.

"We are indeed delighted at this order. While Euro Fashion had defended itself when we had sent them a complaint, this order for withdrawal proves that animals should not be shown in such poor light," Arpan Sharma, CEO, FIAPO, said.

The advertisers were not available for comment.

The hunters become the hunted: Indian state sanctions shooting animal poachers

Prakash Hatvalne/file/AP Photo

NEW DELHI — A western Indian state has declared war on animal poaching by sanctioning its forest guards to shoot hunters on sight in an effort to curb rampant attacks against tigers, elephants and other wildlife.

The government in Maharashtra says injuring or killing suspected poachers will no longer be considered a crime.
Forest guards should not be “booked for human rights violations when they have taken action against poachers,” Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam said Tuesday. The state also will send more rangers and jeeps into the forest, and will offer secret payments to informers who give tips about poachers and animal smugglers, he said.
India holds about half of the world’s estimated 3,200 tigers in dozens of wildlife reserves set up since the 1970s. But illegal poaching remains a serious threat, with tiger parts sought in traditional Chinese medicine fetching high prices on the black market.
According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India, 14 tigers have been killed by poachers in India so far this year — one more than for all of 2011. The tiger is considered endangered, with its habitat range shrinking more than 50 per cent in the last quarter-century and its numbers declining rapidly from the 5,000-7,000 estimated in the 1990s, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Eight of this year’s tiger poaching deaths in India occurred in Maharashtra, including one whose body was found last week chopped into pieces with its head and paws missing in Tadoba Tiger Reserve. Forest officials have also found traps in the reserve, where about 40 tigers live.
Tiger parts used in traditional Chinese medicine are prized on the black market, but dozens of other animals are also targeted by hunters across India, including one-horned rhinos and male elephants prized for their tusks, and other big cats like leopards hunted or poisoned by villagers afraid of attacks on their homes or livestock.
Encounters are rare, however, between guards and poachers who generally hunt the secretive and nocturnal big cats at night, according to Maharashtra’s chief wildlife warden, S.W.H. Naqvi.
“We hardly ever come face-to-face with poachers,” he said Wednesday, predicting few instances where guards might fire at suspects.
Instead, he predicted that the state’s offer to pay informers from a new government fund worth about 5 million rupees ($90,000) would be more effective in curbing wildlife crime. “We get very few tips, so this will really help,” Naqvi said.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


Hunting, like prostitution, is one of India's worst-kept secrets. Everyone knows it's illegal. And everyone knows it's going on. In the Northeast, hunting is prevalent amongst both tribals and the Army. And in Kerala's Periyar Tiger Reserve, rampant poaching of tuskers has dramatically skewed the sex ratio, with one male elephant for 101 females. 

These are amongst a series of startling findings thrown up by a research paper on hunting by three scientists - Nandini Velho, research associate at National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore and a doctoral student at Australia's James Cook University ; Krithi Karanth, assistant director of the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore; and William F Laurance, an eminent tropical scientist at James Cook University. 

The scientists plunged into a meta-analysis of 143 studies on hunting in India in a bid to give shape to the shadowy world that plagues the country's wildlife. 

Their study shows that hunting was reported in 23 of the 28 states and 7 Union Territories, with 114 species of mammals reportedly hunted in the country. 

Besides pushing animals to extinction, hunting also changes the way they behave. For instance, encounter rates (the chance of spotting an animal or signs of it) of daytime animals declined where guns were used to hunt them during the day. Likewise, encounter rates ofnocturnal animals reduced where guns were used at night. 

While much has been written about tiger conservation, Velho cites the plight of other mammals. For instance, the widespread use of traps for otters has led to their extinction in several areas. Its skin, says Velho, is prized in Europe. 

According to wildlife conservationist Belinda Wright, the last 18 months have seen an increase in hunting for meat,with a spike in demand in towns around protected areas. Wright says the trend has much to do with economics. Highly priced domestic meat has spawned a market for wild meat, which is found to be cheaper. 

While hunting happens across the country, the methods vary. "Hunters in Uttaranchal used guns (42%) and snares (48%) in roughly equal frequency; in Himachal Pradesh hunters used exclusively guns. In Karnataka, most hunters (94%) used home-made muzzle-loading guns although use of snares was also reported," says the study. Velho says certain communities such as the Nishi tribe in Arunachal Pradesh have banned the use of locally made trap scalled Komiya,which have often caused injuries to people, too. "The fine for laying these traps is one mithun (a bison-like animal). They do, however, allow hunting with guns," adds Velho, who has worked extensively in Arunachal, where hunting is deeply embedded in the local culture. "Even the belts used for clothes are made of animal skin." 

Tribals aren't the only ones hunting in the Northeast. "Army forces posted on India's northern borders in the Indo-Myanmar /eastern Himalayan region are also reported to engage actively in hunting," says the report. "Many Army officers wear musk (a perfume extracted from the musk deer)," says Velho. Government officers, too, are involved in hunting. "A lot of the killings carried out by locals are either sold or gifted to officers," she adds. 

The report says hunting is particularly widespread in Arunachal, which lies within the India-Myanmar and eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspots. As many as 94 mammal species are reportedly hunted in these two regions. "This figure is considerably higher than the 33 species reported to be hunted across the Western Ghats, the 22 hunted species recorded in the western Himalayas, and zero hunted species reported from the Nicobar Islands," says the study. This may be due to the fact that the eastern Himalayas are home to more species than the Western Ghats, says Velho. 

Environmentalist Uttara Mendiratta, a consultant with Freeland Foundation says hunting in the Northeast gets a boost because the Southeast Asian market for wildlife trade is close at hand. "After hunting an animal in Northeast India, it's very easy to cut across the border to Myanmar where there is a ready market. It is not the same in the Western Ghats where it is harder to sell wildlife in an open market," says Mendiratta, who has been involved in underground operations in China and Tibet to study the illegal animal market. While Tibet was once a large market for illegal animal products from India, there has been a marked drop in demand after the Dalai Lama forbade the use of such products amongst Tibetans . His is amongst several initiatives to curb hunting. In the Northeast, locals from tribes known for their hunting prowess have been roped in for wildlife conservation.

Legal action sought against Pooram organisers

THRISSUR: The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), constituted under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, has sought legal action against the Thrissur Pooram organisers, promoters and the owner of the elephant that turned violent during the concluding day of the Thrissur pooram in which 62 people were injured.
AWBI honorary animal welfare officer, Abhishek Kadyan, has moved a mass petition to the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, as well, seeking strict action against those responsible for the stampede and the torture of the elephant that ensued.
Naresh Kadyan, representative of OIPA (A UN affiliated international organisation for animal protection) in India, demanded to book the organisers and elephant owner under criminal conspiracy for putting the lives of people in danger, animal cruelty and violation of Wild Life Protection Act. In most of the incidents, the elephant went out of control due to the physical torture, stress, pain and injury it endured, the representative said. They also put forth demands like ban on elephant participation in festivals, introduction of rules and regulations for protection of elephants, immediate rescue and rehabilitation of all sick captive elephants and ban use of iron ankush to tame elephants.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Varanasi has history of sensitivity towards animals

VARANASI: The old dwellers of the holy city were very sensitive towards animals, specially cow and ox. Traces of co-existence of human beings and animals can be found in old parts of the city. The earthen and cemented, traditional water tanks kept at a number of crossroads, tea stalls, temples and other eating joints were prepared by natives of the city exclusively for the stray animals and cattle like cow, ox, monkeys, dogs and birds.
However these traditional tanks, which once quenched the thirst of stray animals, are now either broken or being used as dustbins in Old City areas.
Surendra Barman, a shopkeeper at Malviya Market, showing one such water tank-turned-dustbin said: "Since the handpumps are drying up, the tanks are also lying without water. Hardly anyone has time to refill these tanks on a regular basis, so people who are not aware about it often mistake them for dust bins."
According to Saichan, a fruit seller in Suraiyya area of Bulanala, "very recently, a thief took away an years old water tank which was built by the shopkeepers of the area. Since the area is crowded with cattle, we installed a water tank some eight years ago, but it has been missing for the past one week," he said.
According to Pammi, businessmen of saris in Chowk area, 'pukka' (cemented) water tanks called 'hauda' were kept in front of every house as per the traditions of the city. "In fact, most of the houses were constructed with a permanent 'hauda' outside the house, near the main door. Animals like monkeys, cows and oxes, who ventured out freely in the gullies and roads of the city, used to come and drink water from the haudas," he informed.
According to additional municipal commissioner Sachidanand Singh, years ago some cemented water tanks were also constructed by the Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN). However, no action was taken by the VNN to preserve or construct more drinking water tanks for stray animals.
Some shopkeepers and residents in the Old City areas and posh residential areas have taken the onus upon themselves to provide drinking water facility to stray animals of the city and revise the traditional system.
While the traditional haudas fixed or kept adjacent to a tap or handpump can be easily seen in Lohatiya, Sankatha Gullie, Ram Ghat, Thathery Bazaar, Sonarpura, Pandey Haveli, Ramapura, Luxa and many parts of Old City, a number of new style earthen pots, bowls and containers can be seen near the community water taps in many areas and outside the houses in posh colonies like Sigra and Gurudham.
"Since we were taught to serve animals since early childhood days, so we keep these earthen bowls of water in front of our house so that any animal or bird can get relief from the rising temperature," said Shyam Shankar Agrawal, a businessman.
"The tanks at most of the water taps and handpumps are missing. Residents of our area have contributed and kept two-three earthen bowls near the community taps. Whenever the water in the bowls gets finished, it is refilled by anyone who notices it first," informed Deen Dayal, a local of Ram Ghat.
Stray cattle may soon have a new address
Varanasi: It seems that controlling the menace of stray animals and managing them is beyond the capabilities of the Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN). Perhaps mainly due to this reason, the VNN is planning to take help of a private 'gaushala' to shelter the old cows and oxes that are caught during the special drives of the VNN.
According to additional municipal commissioner Sachidanand Singh, a first phase meeting with the owners of the gaushala has already been conducted. "Soon things will finalise and we will shift the cattle from Kanji House at Nakkhi Ghat to the gaushala at Rameshwar.
It may be mentioned here that VNN has a Kanji House at Nakkhi Ghat where stray cattle which are catched are kept, and whenever an owner of the turns up, cattle is given back to him after giving a fixed amount of fine.
"Most of the owners for cows turn up but the hybrid oxes lie useless at the Kanji House. It is not appropriate to let them loose because they can be smuggled. The VNN was having difficulty in looking after them, so this decision had to be taken," informed Singh.
It is noteworthy that, with the two animal catchers installed to catch stray animals, the VNN is able to catch three-four animals on a daily basis. "Most of the animals caught are cows and dogs. The stray dogs are left outside city area, specially in village areas. We do not catch monkeys because they come under the forest department," said Singh.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Punjab to train veterinary doctors to curb stray dog menace

Chandigarh, May 16 (PTI) The veterinary doctors and paramedics in Punjab will now be specially trained in catching and managing stray dogs as the incidents of canines attacking people increasing in the state. The Punjab Government will sigh an MoU with Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), which will train veterinary teams, comprising two doctors and five paramedics in each team, for catching and managing the stray dogs, an official spokesman said here.

 A decision to this effect was taken today by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in a meeting with the officials of the AWBI, a statutory and advisory body to the Central Government working under the aegis of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. After the formal training, which will begin from June, the veterinary teams will be deputed in every city. In the meeting, Badal emphasised the need for joint efforts of the local organisations and animal husbandry department to effectively check the increasing cases of dog bites, which has posed a grave threat to human lives, besides resulting in accidents on roads. 

He also asked the officers to prepare an action plan in tandem with the organisers of Gau-Shalas at district levels for the proper management and care of abandoned cows in urban and rural areas. Stray dogs have been on the prowl in many parts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh for the past few months, claiming two human lives recently. A 12-year-old boy of a village in Punjab's Batala was recently mauled to death by a pack of stray dogs while he was returning from school. Earlier, in a meeting with a farmers' delegation of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal group) here today, Badal expressed concern over enormous damage to the standing crops by the wild animals and stray dogs. He said the state government was contemplating to chalk-out a detailed action plan to get rid of the nuisance caused by the canines and wild animals