Friday, 29 June 2012

The power of raw

Last week, Taruna Shah, a housewife in Mulund, gave up meat. It was a vegan meet held by some residents in her area that convinced her to do so. She says, “It was just a small meet-up with a few friends. But why turning vegan was so important was explained so well that I was convinced to take this  step.”

Shah’s suburban neighbourhood isn’t the only one to be hit by this green wave. While turning vegan as a way of life became a trendy thing to do in the city and around the world a while ago, organising vegan meet-ups and potlucks in residential colonies to introduce new members to this lifestyle is catching on now.

“Potlucks are held to introduce people to whole food, plant-based diet and create awareness about its health benefit and impact on the environment. Each participant brings a vegan dish that is made without using any animal products. Usually, a few dairy substitutes are used in the preparation,” says Samir Pasad, who runs Vegan Bites, which supplies health meals to individuals and corporate clients all over Mumbai.

“The most popular dishes that are made with dairy substitutes are dahi wada, papdi chaat, smoothies, ice cream or some exotic dessert.”

In fact, Sharan India, that promotes veganism, has been organising vegan potlucks at various Mumbai neighbourhoods for a few years now. Every area of Mumbai is targeted and generally, one or two potlucks are organised a month. Non-vegetarians are invited as well, to give this lifestyle a try.

The last meet in Ghatkopar saw a turnout of 35, and people were asked to bring a dish prepared without animal products, dairy or honey.

Vaishnavi Mehta, a housewife in Bandra, is organising a vegan potluck for her friends next month. She’s already informed them of the vegan specifications for the food they bring.

Ask her why, and she says, “Most lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart problems can be prevented or reversed with whole-food and plant-based diet. Isn’t that reason enough to convert?” 

Animal hide selling thick and fast in East Godavari

HYDERABAD: The prominent wildlife belt of Andhra Pradesh, the Rampachodavaram forest in East Godavari has now turned into a den of illegal skin traders. Stacks of animal skin from this forest are routinely sold to collectors, both from India and aboard, every month for princely sums ranging between Rs 15,000 and Rs 3 lakh, say local foresters.
Observers say that apart from the big cats such as tigers and panthers that draw maximum returns, even the Indian bison, mouse deer and deer are put up for sale. While these dealings have been taking place for a few years, they rue that the state forest department's negligence has allowed it grow into an organized trade now.

Running this lucrative business from behind the thick foliage are groups of tribals who, lured by the wildlife wealth of this forest, have infiltrated into AP from the neighbouring states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. "Though they started to come about 10 years back, their numbers have swelled now. At least 100 of them are seen in the forest during any time of the year," said a wildlife activist operating in the area adding, "Some hunt only for meat while others poach to trade the skin. Even animal horns are sold openly here."

Besides an exhaustive collection, these illegal traders also have a fixed rate chart. Tiger skin: Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, other wild animals (boar, deer, bison): Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh and deer horns: Rs 15,000 for a pair.

"Such widespread poaching has destroyed the wildlife count of not just this area but of all small forest belts between Rampachodavaram and Upper Sileru in Visakhapatnam," said K Ramaswamy from the Council for Wildlife Conservation attributing this menace to the state department's failure to man AP's borders. "We have brought this issue to the notice of the forest officials numerous times. Yet they have showed no interest to address it. No official is keen on venturing out into the forest to nab the offenders or deploy personnel to check infiltration," he added.

Sounding a word of caution, wildlife biologists note how continuous hunting could kill the forest belt that always had a rich amphibian, reptile and mammal population. As per 2010 tiger census, the region also boasted of as many as nine tigers. "Even now there are a good number of tigers who are living dangerously," said Imran Siddiqui, a wildlife expert associated with the Hyderabad Tigers Conservation Society. He added, "This moist deciduous forest always has healthy rainfall. The quality of the forest is therefore very good and conducive to wildlife. If managed well, this can prove to be a major breeding ground for animals."

But considering the indifference among forest officials, that remains a distant possibility. When contacted, S V Kumar, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) maintained that the forest was well protected by his officials.
"No case of animal skin trading has ever been reported from here. We are not aware of any infiltration either," he said. 

Punjab Cong MLA's remark invites animal lovers' wrath

The main opposition Congress MLA's suggestion to overcome the problem of the stray dog menace today invited the wrath of animal lovers.

People for Animals president Saurabh Gupta said that the issue raised by the MLA needed to be addressed at the earliest, but the "solution" suggested by him was "not practical and ethical".

"It is inhuman and unethical. Dogs have the right to live as well," he said.
"If the Punjab government attempts any such thing, we will drag them to court," Gupta warned.

The Punjab Assembly had witnessed some light moments yesterday when Congress legislator Ajit Singh Mofar moved a resolution to tackle the menace of stray dogs.

Mofar suggested the dogs be sent to the north-east or China for "whatever they do to them."

He was taking a dig at the common practise in the North-Eastern states of India of killing dogs for their meat.

Mofar suggested, "We can make arrangements to catch such dogs, put them in the jungle or zoos. Maybe we can then send them to Nagaland, Mizoram and China where they are more needed."

"Stray dogs are such a big nuisance; even going on a walk has become dangerous because of them," he said.

Mofar was hinting at the sharp rise in cases of dog bites in Punjab with an estimated 15,000 such cases reported annually.

While the MLA’s statement was definitely entertaining for the members of the Assembly, Sunil Jakhar, legislature leader of Congress party, was not in league with him this time.

Jakhar said, "A dog is a man’s best friend. Saying such things trivialises the issue. Personally, I am against this attitude."

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Man booked for riding horse in drunken state

A man has landed in trouble for riding his horse allegedly in an inebriated condition through the busy city roads here and torturing the animal which abruptly halted midway. 

The police booked the man for torturing the animal. According to police, the 42-year-old man rode his horse through the Killippalam-Karamana road here on Sunday night after consuming liquor. 

The 'royal ride' turned a "public nuisance" when the horse halted abruptly when it reached a junction with the rider, creating traffic problem and drawing the police attention. 

Even after the police intervened, the horse declined to make its move and personnel of Mounted Police were called in to tackle the situation. 

Police said the man had been charged under sections 289 and 429 of Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animal Act. The owner of the horse used to rent out it for film shootings. The animal appeared to be in an exhausted condition as it was flogged by its owner,police said. 

Kumar was released on personal bail after registering the case against him, sources said. 

Tension over animal slaughter

Lucknow, Jun 26 (PTI) Slaughter of an animal during a religious function sparked tension in Kadar Chowk area in Uttar Pradesh's Badaun district today, police said. Ten persons were arrested in connection with the incident, ADGP, Law and Order, Jagmohan Yadav said. Tension ran high in the area as members of a particular community objected to slaughter of the animal, he said. Security had been beefed up in the trouble-torn area to ward off any law and order problem.

Rescue hippos from all circuses: Maneka Gandhi

NAGPUR: Animal rights activist and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Pilibhit Maneka Gandhi has asked the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), a statutory body under the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), to remove all hippos from circuses and put them in zoos or rescue centres.

The hippos in all the circuses are blind. Obviously they are being blinded to make them more amenable. Earlier, one blind hippo from a circus was rescued. Another died in Jumbo Circus and now the one in Amar Circus is third.

According to Dr BK Gupta, evaluation and monitoring officer with CZA, there are only three hippos on display in circuses.

Gandhi, in a letter to CZA member-secretary BS Bonal, suggested to constitute a committee either by the CZA or the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and seek a report of all animals in the circuses. The circus animals continue to be abused, ill-treated and killed very often.

The MP said that CZA should re-examine registration of all performing animals since beginning till date and rescue all abused animals cancelling their registration.

"Registration of all hippos, docked tailed dogs, feather chopped birds be cancelled. These animals should be rescued and rehabilitated by July 25, 2012. Besides, registration of all elephants as performing animals may also be cancelled," Gandhi said.

She has also suggested to introduce fixed retirement and rehabilitation of performing animals and birds.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Pet parrots land school attendant in the soup

HYDERABAD: Ever since the start of the academic year, a dreary corner of St Patricks School, Secunderabad has turned into a popular kids' zone, especially among parents dropping off their crying babies on their first day at school after it reopened this year.

Keeping the children entertained were a pair of rose ringed parakeets (parrots) in a small cage. The beautiful birds distracted the young children even as those in the senior classes made it a point to check out the birds in their free time.

But much like the students even the school was unaware that it was committing an offence. And on Friday, a team of anti poaching squad of the forest department raided the school and seized the two birds.

They said the birds came under Schedule 4 of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and keeping them caged was illegal. An attendant, who was gifted the two birds by a parent, was slapped with a fine and booked under Section 39 of the Act for keeping the wild birds in captivity.

The anti-poaching squad landed at the school on Friday afternoon acting on a tip-off. Forest department officials said that the parakeets were found in a small cage near the gate of the school and one Subbaiah Pandian, an attendant was looking after them.

While the school authorities feigned ignorance about the matter, Subbaiah told the officials that a parent had handed over the cage to him and he was keeping a check on it on the school premises unaware of the Wildlife Act. Subbaiah, 40, was fined Rs 2,500 by the forest department.

Animal welfare activists said that many schools were keeping birds in captivity and few principals also said that when the birds die, they would even replace them.

"It is surprising that they are maintaining these birds. Schools are not supposed to keep wild animals. Even if they want to keep domestic animals and birds such rabbits, pigeons, ducks among others they have to take permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India.

"Also, they have to take all measures such as providing big cages, fresh water and regular veterinary services. They have to keep animals in groups," said Mahesh Agarwal, member, AP State Animal Welfare Board.

According to Agarwal, in the last few years this is the third case booked against a school for keeping wild birds in captivity. While two other schools that were booked include Funskool School, Tarnaka and St Marium Fun School located at Meerpet, Balapur. S P Naidu, principal of Funskool, Tarnaka said that the school had kept parrots for 12 years until they were seized about two years ago. "We have a play school and the birds were kept only to entertain the kids.

"Now we have pigeons, love birds, ducks, geese and a fish aquarium," said Naidu who was unaware of the Act and ended up paying Rs 15,000 as penalty.

It was for the same reason that Manzoor Quader Shahbaz, one of the directors of St Marium Fun School had kept a parrot. Incidentally, even Shahbaz was unaware of the Act. But activists say that ignorance is not an excuse.

A representative of Patrick School, pleading anonymity, said that earlier the school had a large collection of love birds and other domestic winged creatures. But this pair of parrots did not belong to the school.

"Some parents gave the two male parrots to the attendant and we did not know that it came under Wildlife Act. For some kids school can be a tense and fearsome place. For such children we had a collection of love birds and some other birds. Some boys removed the mesh and 15-20 love birds flew away some time back," he said.

Forest range officer V Tirumala Rao said that denizens could intimate the department about any school where this type of activity was going on and action would be initiated against them.

During 2010, the anti poaching squad had booked 36 cases under the Wildlife Protection Act and 39 in 2011.

This financial year, so far 6 cases have been booked since April against private individuals and establishments for keeping and eating wild birds and animals.

Times View

Ignorance is not always a bliss and schools may have learnt their lesson by now, at least as far as keeping wild animals on their premises is concerned. But fining a poor man, who is lowest in the rung, for being ignorant of the Wildlife Act is too harsh when a stern warning may have been enough. Besides, the forest department should now look at educating the educators, spread awareness among schools about the Wildlife Act so that they take responsibility of such actions and not an employee. 

Gurgaon to get a pet hospital soon

CHANDIGARH: Gurgaon is all set to get its first state-of-the-art multi-speciality pet hospital. The decision to set up the fourth such hospital in India, after Chennai, Kochi and Panchkula was taken by the Animal Husbandry Department of Haryana.

The hospital will be equipped with facilities like a diagnostic lab, blood bank, dog dentistry, 24-hour casualty, ambulance service, ventilators, all kinds of surgical instruments, breeding section, dog hostel, beauty parlour and pet training centre.

All these services will be available at nominal charges. As of now, Gurgaon does not have any advanced medical facilities for pets except, beauty parlours and accessory shops. There is also no referral pet hospital in the event of serious surgeries in NCR.

Dr K S Dangi, director general of the department of Animal Husbandry, Haryana, told TOI that it would be set up near DLF II area where the department has around one acre of land. Construction will start after administrative approval from the state government.

According to the department officials, a pet hospital with such advanced medical facilities was necessary for a fast-growing city like Gurgaon. "Rapid growth in Gurgaon has led to the disappearance of animals like buffaloes and cows, reducing the work of the department. Keeping the large clientele of pet owners in mind, it was decided that a pet hospital would be set up to help utilize the department's manpower," said Dangi. At present, the department is successfully running a pet hospital in Panchkula that caters to pet owners from the cities of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali. It also acts as the region's referral institution for pets with serious ailments.

'Ustad Hotel' fails to get Animal Welfare Board of India nod

ALAPPUZHA: The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) refused to give no objection certificates to two films -Anwar Rasheed's 'Ustad Hotel' and M A Nishad's 'No 66 Madhura Bus'.

The AWBI refused to give NOC to these films following the complaints filed by Heritage Animal Task Force (HATF), an animal lovers' forum with the AWBI. It will adversely affect the release of these two Malayalam films.

"The directors of these two films used animals in their films without the pre-shoot permission of the AWBI. As per the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, shooting with animals should be undertaken only after getting pre-shoot permission from AWBI," said V K Venkitachalam, secretary of HATF.

In the film 'Ustad Hotel', director Anward Rasheed used a camel in a song scene without the permission of the AWBI.

When HATF lodged a complaint with the AWBI in this connection, the director and the producer of the film approached the AWBI for its permission. However, the AWBI refused to give the NOC saying that using camel in Kerala for films could not be permitted because a camel cannot live in Kerala due to the climate here.

However, Anwar Rasheed told TOI that the film would be released on June 29 at any cost and they did not have any plan to remove the scene in which a camel was used.

The film 'Ustad Hotel' stars Dulquar Salman, Nitya Menon and Thilakan among others.

"People and media with some vested interests are trying to stop the release of my film. Now there is no problem for the release of my film and it will be released on June 29," he said.

M A Nishad has also used a captive elephant in the film without the pre-shoot certificate from the board.

Following this, the AWBI refused to issue NOC and directed M A Nishad and the film's producer to produce the ownership certificate of the elephant from the wildlife department.

Animal rights body file complaint against Navjot Singh Sidhu

AMRITSAR: Riding an elephant on way to court arrest has landed BJP MP from Amritsar parliamentary constituency Navjot Singh Sidhu in soup. International Organization for Animal Protect (OIPA) , a United Nations affiliated organization, has lodged complaint against Sidhu and senior BJP leader Balbir Punj for violation of section 268 IPC , Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 and the section 3, 11 and 38 of the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1972.

Sidhu and Punj had taken elephant ride on Friday during BJP's nationwide protest against price hike.OIPA, India representative Naresh Kadyan who is also founder Chairman, People for Animals, PFA Haryana told TOI on Saturday that elephant was a national heritage animal of India, protected under scheduled one of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 and couldn't be abused for publicity tool nor to keep in captivity for personnel gain and profit.

He said they had demanded immediate rescue and rehabilitation of abused elephant .He also questioned as to why the elephant was used as performing animals without registration with the Animal Welfare Board of India as required under section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

"BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and Balbir Punj have violated the Act so they should be booked" he said.OIPA also questioned Maneka Gandhi, founder People for Animals to clear her stand on the issue.OIPA representative said that the matter would be taken up before the Speaker of Lok Sabha, the Election Commission of India for disqualification of Sidhu.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Illegal slaughter house in Kamptee poses risk

NAGPUR: A state-level committee appointed on the direction of Supreme Court has recommended action against Kamptee Municipal Council (KMC) for allowing an illegal slaughter house, said to be one of the biggest in the state.
The state's animal husbandry department was requested by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), under the ministry of environment and forest, to conduct random inspections of at least 10 licensed slaughter houses every six months as per Supreme Court directions under the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.

Accordingly, a six-member committee consisting of Dr S B Baseshankar, Dr D V Kadoo, Dr K S Bhide, Dr N N Zade, and two co-opted members of AWBI S N Kapoor and Abodh Aras inspected two slaughter houses - Bhandewadi and Kamptee.

On the slaughter house at Kamptee operating in Bhaji Mandi, the panel recommended AWBI to issue notice to the district collector and chief officer of KMC to stop the illegal slaughter of large animals. The panels said around 300 animals are slaughtered here daily ostensibly for domestic consumption but the meat is transported outside illegally. It is exported to Middle-East via Mumbai.

"The illegal business is thriving with blessings of local police and officials. Electric slicers have been installed to slaughter animals. It is shocking how MSEDCL has issued power meters for slicers in residential area," asks local Congress leader Narendra Sharma.

Sharma says police express helplessness citing law and order problem. "But is the place above people's health and environment? Water bodies are being polluted and people's health is at risk," Sharma said.

Cattle slaughter is allowed for domestic consumption but over the years meat export has become a lucrative business. The slaughter has no checks or certification from any authorized vet. Till the visit of the committee, municipal council used to issue ante-mortem certificates by a vet appointed by commissioner of animal husbandry.

However, ahead of the committee's visit in April, the chief officer of KMC wrote to animal husbandry department informing there is no large animal slaughter house in Kamptee. Chief officer Ravindra Pandher says plans are afoot to shift the slaughter house outside the city.

KMC vice-president Shahajan Safahat admits it is a nuisance and not acceptable. "Earlier cattle was slaughtered for livelihood but now stakes are higher as beef is being exported. The number of cattle killed certainly doesn't match local consumption. The slaughter house needs to be shifted elsewhere as it poses serious hazards," Safahat says.

BJP MLA from Kamptee Chandrashekhar Bawankule says, "I've raised the issue several times in the House but the government is doing nothing. A group of 24 NGOs plan to file a petition against the slaughter house," he says.

Of late, the traders have installed equipment even in households to bring every body part of the animals to use. "The processes to extract oil and cleaning skins creates stench in the area," Bawankule said.

The MLA says police do not want to take action. Daily five truckloads of beef is transported from Kamptee but police cannot see it.

Monday, 18 June 2012

PETA says 67 animals die in Alipore zoo since August last

Kolkata, Jun 18 (PTI) Global animal rights organisation PETA (People for ethical treatment of animals) today claimed that 67 animals, including tigers, lions, chimpanzees, kangaroos, birds and snakes, died in Alipore zoo here in the last eight months and urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to close the zoo. Since August 2011, these animals died in the zoo mainly from diseases and lack of veterinary care, PETA said here. Stating that the situation in Alipore zoo was particularly critical, PETA said, it had written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for declaring closure of the zoo. 

"Although PETA India calls for a boycott of all zoos that steal animals' feed and force them to live in oppressive and cruel conditions, the situation in Alipore zoo is particularly critical", it said. PETA said it had already suggested to the state government to shift its focus from collections of animals in captivity to habitat preservation and not to expect any result by forming the State Zoo Authority. According to PETA India campaign coordinator B Gupta, "instead of sinking more money into cruel and decrepit zoos, funds must be used to protect the last vestiges of wilderness where these animals can live". PETA members will protest outside Alipore zoo on Friday to mobilise public opinion, they said. PTI PB PR

Government Vets to be Trained to Conduct Animal Birth Control- Anti-Rabies Programmes

NEW DELHI: A number of organizations are collaborating on a round of training sessions geared toward helping professionals tackle rabies. The programme, VetTrain, formulated by Australian NGO, Vets Beyond Borders will be held on the premises of Jeevasharam Animal Welfare Foundation, in Rajokri, from June 18 to June 30. The programme will be supported by the Australian government's AusAID, University of Queensland Veterinary School and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).

The first round of the ongoing programme which will cover the entire country, will include government veterinary doctors from Punjab. About eight veterinarians, 10 para-veterinarians, six dog-catchers and programme managers for Animal Birth Control measures will be attending. Animal birth control - Anti-Rabies, or ABC-AR, "is one of the best ways to control rabies," says Dr. Vinod Sharma, chief officer, Jeevashram.

But just operating on the stray dog won't help, says Sharma, "The municipal bodies must take care of garbage management, colonies must learn how to take care of street dogs and also learn how important it is for their own pets to be spayed and neutred."

Dog sterilization and mass vaccination are methods recommended by the World Health Organization(WHO) ; in India, the AWBI is responsible for implementing ABC-AR programmes. The training will help in "upskilling" ABC-AR personnel to the AWBI's standard operating procedures so they are equipped to tacking this public health issue in their home states.

Soon, wireless device to alert trains about jumbos

Deaths So Far
According to the Elephant Task Force report, dated August 31, 2010, 150 elephants have been killed in train collisions since 1987

Pune: To prevent incidents of elephants getting hit by trains, the ministry of railways and the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) will join hands to carry out a project wherein the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, will develop a wireless sensor device. 

The device – wild animal protection system – will detect the presence of elephants on railway tracks and activate a signal system that would alert the station master to warn trains to slow down or stop. 

The information given as response to an RTI inquiry (dated June 1), sought by international NGO Animal Equality, states that the wireless sensor device will be ready for trial in 2016. 

Amruta Ubale, a Punebased member of Animal Equality, said, following the unfortunate accidents that killed many elephants and the absence of effective measures to prevent them, Animal Equality wrote to the environment and forests minister urging them to consider the suggestions, including installation of radar sensors on the train to detect animal presence (mobile and immobile) on the tracks. 

Last year, at a meeting between the railway minister and the MoEF, the use of technological gadgets, which will be a cost-effective mechanism in the long run, was emphasized. It was also decided to entrust IIT Delhi with the task of developing the device and to run the pilot project preferably in the forest areas of north West Bengal, said Ubale. 

“Our letter with suggestions was forwarded by the MoEF to the ministry of railways in 2010. Sensor devices are used by international car companies and also on some trains and ships. The devices have proved useful in avoiding collisions,” said Ubale.

 “The state forest department and animal welfare organizations jointly intervened in some states and implemented measures, such as patrolling, electric fencing, installation of signs and hoardings, levelling of steep embankments, creating awareness among engine drivers and railway staff and clearing vegetation at blind corners for better visibility. These appear to have been successful to some extent. However, much needed to be done as trains continue to kill elephants. 

“These measures combined with the sensor device shall hopefully prove successful in mitigating elephant deaths,’’ Ubale added.

Early Rly warning system being developed

GUWAHATI, June 16 – Innovative technology will now be used to save an ancient species of the country. An early warning signal is being developed to monitor the movement of elephants on railway tracks where a number of those have been crushed by speeding trains.

According to the
report of the Elephant Task Force dated August 31, 2010, 150 animals have been killed in train collisions since 1987. Assam is on the top of jumbo casualties due to train-hits since 1987, which amounts to 36 per cent of total casualties. A stretch near Deepor Beel, and a few other areas have proved to be particularly dangerous for the pachyderms.

The Ministries of Railways and Environment and Forests will undertake the project which will use a wireless sensor device developed by the
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), New Delhi. Called ‘The Wild Animal Protection System,’ it works by detecting the presence of elephants on the railway track and by triggering a signal to the station master to warn trains to slow down or stop. 

The initiative has been promoted by Animal Equality, an animal rights organisation. Concerned by the accidents and the inability of the authorities to implement effective measures, Animal Equality had sent a communiqué to the Minister of Environment and Forests and Minister of Railways urging them to ‘consider suggestions.’

The suggestions included installation of radar sensors on
the train that will detect animals in front of the train and on tracks. In addition it could have an auto-brake function which can be utilised to avoid collision, a press note stated.

“We are thankful to the Ministries of Railways and Environment and Forests for considering the suggestions sent by us. Sensor devices are used by international car companies and it is also used in some trains and ships… the pilot project of the sensor device is expected to be developed by 2015 and will be ready for testing in 2016,” said Amruta Ubale of Animal Equality.

The State Forest Department and animal welfare organisations have intervened in some states and taken measures such as patrolling, electric fencing, installation of signs and hoardings, creating awareness among train drivers, clearing
vegetation at blind corners to improve visibility of loco pilots. These appear to have been successful to some extent.

Much, however, needs to be done as trains continue to kill and maim elephants. Now existing measures combined with the Wild Animal Protection System sensor device can prove successful in mitigating elephant deaths.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Stars, celebs back drive to save horses

MUMBAI: After citizens and animal activists initiated a signature campaign to ban the horse-drawn Victorias, film stars and celebrities have joined hands to save the animals.

Actors Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut, singer Anushka Manchanda, model Pia Trivedi and activist Maneka Gandhi have pledged support. TOI had reported how horses are kept in stables that are in pathetic conditions or at beaches, dump yards and slums.

"The Mumbai For Horses campaign is guided by Maneka Gandhi and our ambassadors are Pia Trivedi and actor Kitu Gidwani," said Mili Gandhi of Mumbai For Horses. Advocate and animal activist Ambika Hiranandani said the drive got a boost with celebrities' support.

"Once, we have the signatures, we will sit outside the CM's, mayor's, civic chief's and joint commissioner of traffic police's offices," said Vandana Kripalani of Mumbai For Horses.

Nilesh Bhanage of Plants and Animals Welfare Society said they are urging authorities in Kalyan and Dombivli to stop the exploitation. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India will hold a protest at Azad Maidan on June 16.

NMC to resume sterilization of stray dogs

Nagpur: With a view to curb stray dog menace, Nagpur Municipal Corporation is all set to restart the animal birth control (ABC) programme soon. It has already constructed a dog shelter at Bhandewadi, informed NMC veterinary officer Dr Gajendra Mahalle while replying to a Right To Information Act application. ""Here, we will carry out the sterilization programme,"" he added.

Even though cases of dog bites have been reported from several parts of the city and its outskirts, the civic body has miserably failed to curb the menace. Packs of dogs rule the roost on city streets leading to panic among residents. The threat is more for morning and evening walkers. Market places act as a breeding ground for stray dogs, where they fatten on slaughter waste.

In a reply to the RTI application filed by Abhay Kolarkar, an activist with the India Against Corruption, Mahalle pointed out that as per Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the ABC programme is the responsibility of NMC and state animal husbandry department.

NMC has to take post-operative care of dogs that have undergone the ABC procedure. In the past, the civic body had started the sterilization programme through some NGOs but irregularities led to the civic body ending it. In 2010-2011, the civic body had carried out sterilization programme on 2,228 dogs across the city. Now, the civic body has decided to carry out the ABC programme on its own.

Mahalle said that the civic body had formed two flying squad entrusted in the job of catching stray dogs. ""A mobile van has also been provided to catch stray dogs. Instructions have been given to zonal officials to get strict with the job,"" he added.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Plea against transfer of 29 elephants to Madhya Pradesh

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday asked the Union government, the Animal Welfare Board of India, Principal Secretary to the Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment to file a counter affidavit within six weeks against the petition on the translocation of elephants from the state.

The petition filed by the Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) and the People For Animals (PFA) has alleged the state government has decided to transfer 29 elephants to Madhya Pradesh.They cited a report in an English daily published on May 12 stating that the state government was planning to hand over captive elephants to Madhya Pradesh government for use in safaris in that state, and that 29 elephants had been identified for such a transfer.

On May 14, the NGOs wrote letters to the principal conservator of forests objecting to the translocation of the elephants. Since the state government seemed keen on pursuing the transfers, the petitioners decided to approach the court.

The NGOs argued that the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 prohibits the sale of elephants. The elephants, if transferred, would be separated from the family groups. The translocation of such a huge number of elephants would result in degeneration of the forest, since each elephant requires 250kg of fodder every day. They are extremely vulnerable to tuberculosis when they come into contact with human beings.
The activists sought a direction from the court to issue a writ not to sell, transfer or translocate elephants from Karnataka.

The state government counsel has submitted that a decision had been taken not to translocate captive elephants to Madhya Pradesh or to any other part of the country.

3 arrested for molesting animal rights activist

NAVI MUMBAI: Three of the six accused who had allegedly molested and assaulted a animal rights activist and her cousin in Sanpada have been arrested.

On June 4, six men had assaulted an MBA student, Roshni Majumdar (26), and her cousin Sumit Deb (28) because the two were feeding a stray dog in Sector 5, Sanpada. Roshni and Sumit immediately lodged a complaint against their assailants at Turbhe police station.

On Tuesday evening, Akash Patil (18), Tejas Patil (20) and Priyesh Patil (25) were arrested under Section 354 (molestation) of the Indian Penal Code.

DCP (zone 1) Purushottam Karad said, "We immediately started investigations and took prompt action after getting the complaint."

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Healthcare for Sirumalai ponies

MADURAI: Ponies are the only mode of transport for people as well as for the products grown in most parts of the Sirumalai hills in Dindigul district. As these villages rarely pay attention to the health of these animals, officials from the department of animal husbandry conducted a medical camp recently, where the animals were given tetanus shots and also treated for worms.

As only 30% of the hilly terrain of Sirumalai is connected by roads, people here who earn their living through agriculture and horticulture, depend on the ponies to take them up the hill and also carry the goods that they market down the hill. This is a unique terrain in the sense that it is a hillock surrounded by Vadipatti, Madurai, Alanganallur and Kodai Road without any connection to the steep slopes of the Western Ghats, which are a few kilometres away. This hill is 1,200 metres above sea level and spread over an area of 60,000 hectares. It is known for its special variety of bananas known as 'malai vazhaipazham' while coffee, medicinal plants, mulberry and a variety of fruits are cultivated on private and government lands here. The area comprises of 10 villages including Palaiyur, Sirumalai Pudur and Anna Nagar.

According to Perumal, a villager, at least 75% of the families in the 2,000 odd houses on this hillock own a pony each, while the more affluent ones have enough animals to even rent them out. On information that some of the ponies in this region were affected by tetanus, Dindigul district collector N Vedachalam directed the department of animal husbandry to look into the welfare of the animals, following which a medical camp was held. Villagers said the camp was a timely intervention, as they often did not find the time to give the animals their shots regularly. The Blue Cross also conducts annual camps here. Officials at the department of animal husbandry said they administered tetanus vaccines to 150 animals and that they hoped to cover all the animals in a phased manner.