Thursday, 30 August 2012

Back to being a vegetarian

Indians must return to their old roots on diet. Both nature and humankind will be better off

The Supreme Court recently issued a directive to ensure that all States set up a committee for slaughterhouses within a month. It is part of the effort to monitor abattoirs.

 But the very practice of butchering creatures for pleasure and gain is antithetical to the Indic worldview. Dominance of the utilitarian principle in economics ensures optimum use of living species for profit. Colonial rule over a long period introduced the malaise into India, with post-independence rulers carrying on with the Raj legacy.

The Chinese Buddhist monk Fa-Hien, who visited northern India in the early fifth century AD, stated in A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms, Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Hien of his Travels in India and Ceylon in Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline: “In India, except for Chandals, nobody indulges in violence against animals or consumes liquor or other intoxicants. No one trades in live animals. There are no shops in the entire country which sell liquor or meat. Only the Chandals indulge in hunting or consuming meat and liquor”.

Chandals were people that lived outside the social fold because they deployed living creatures for food and commerce. They also disposed of remains of the dead. Modern civilisation rests on such moorings.

Worldwide lobbying against flesh-based diet has received a boost from a recent report, prepared by eminent water scientists. Malik Falkenmark and his colleagues from the Stockholm International Water Institute predict in their study that by 2050, acute water scarcity would compel the world to turn vegetarian. There would then be just enough water to support five per cent protein intake, derived from animals. People currently source about 20 per cent protein from animal-based food. The projected human population for that time being nine billion, the pressure to feed the additional two billion would take a heavy toll on existing water resources. The warning needs to be clubbed with forecasts of an impending food crisis by the United Nations and Oxfam.

This, of course, is the utilitarian reason for shunning animal protein. Processing and production of such food entails five to 10 times more use of water than a vegetarian diet, with an estimated one- third of arable land diverted to growing food for animals, meant for slaughter.

Other arguments against animal protein hinge on the health hazards posed by such diet, and green house gas emissions by livestock and poultry, magnifying global warming to an alarming degree. Given below is a relevant excerpt from a 2009 scientific study, titled Comparing environmental impacts for lifestyle products: A review of life cycle assessments, prepared by Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

“The total agricultural sector emits around 25 to 32 per cent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Crops emit 14 per cent... and all livestock emit 11 to-18 per cent, depending on how emissions are attributed... The emissions from livestock can be divided roughly as 30 per cent methane from enteric fermentation, 30 per cent nitrous oxide from manure management and 40 per cent from carbon dioxide from land-use changes for grazing and feed production... the dairy sector is responsible for roughly 27 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock... while monogastric production (pigs/poultry) is responsible for 10 to 20 per cent of the livestock emissions... Even if beef cattle represent 50 to 60 per cent of livestock emissions, this translates roughly into a figure close to 30 to 35 per cent of all agricultural emissions... What is true is that of all livestock products, beef is the most inefficient in terms of greenhouse gas emissions produced per unit of product, especially compared to dairy and monogastrics”.

Beef production, as compared to other livestock products, adds most to greenhouse gas emissions. But neither this fact nor outbreak of mad cow disease in the West, with the UK being most badly hit, has managed to change dietary habits to a substantial degree. It is a fatal neuro-degenerative ailment, transmitted to humans as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, if they consume infected beef. The disease erupted after cattle, which are naturally herbivore, were fed remains of other livestock. The abnormal fallout of going against nature led to millions of cattle being eradicated in the UK after the malady was diagnosed in the late 1980s. Despite the beef industry’s claims of rigorous quality control, reports have filtered out of BSE cases in North America.

The link between myriad degenerative diseases and factory farming of livestock and poultry is now well known. John Robbins, spurning his legacy of the ice cream empire Baskin Robbins, has penned some revealing books, notably Diet for a New America that unveils the gruesome truth about the meat industry and severe repercussions for mankind, animals and environment; and The Food Revolution, triggering fierce rebuttals by opponents of his uncompromising advocacy of diet that is plant-based and organic. Given these facts, India too must revert to its roots in terms of diet, and regard for life and nature.

Odisha asked to prevent cruel cattle transport

The Orissa High Court today directed the state government to conscientiously follow the suggestions made by Chennai-based Animal Welfare Board of India to check the perilous manner in which cattle are transported from the state. 

Asking the Director General of Police to upgrade night patrolling on National Highways, the court directed the state police to register cases under the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty (Animals) Act against the persons transporting cattle in a hazardous manner. 

Disposing of two PILs pertaining to illegal trafficking of cattle, a Division Bench of Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice S K Mishra also asked the police to rescue the cattle that are transported in an inhuman manner and seize the vehicles in which they are transported. 

This direction came in the wake of two PILs filed by social organisations — Legal Support and Social Action (Lessa) and Viswa Gosurakhshya Vahini (VGV).
The petitioners had also maintained that aged cows without being fed or provided with drinking water are transported long distances as a result some of them meet tragic end during transportation. 

They had also argued that the cattle are taken to slaughter houses in terrifying manner which violates the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty (Animals) Act and Rules governing thereof. 

Adjudicating over the petitions, the High Court had earlier asked the Animal Welfare Board of India to file details in an affidavit stating as to what steps the Board is taking to prevent such cruelty to poor animals.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Butchering childhood

HYDERABAD: All of seven years, Ali Ahmed from Bihar has barely ever held a pencil but can hold a sharp butcher's knife with ease, swiftly slitting the throats of chickens at crowded meat shops. His uncle had brought him to Hyderabad for the month of Ramzan, a busy season when meat shops needed extra hands. Little Ali came in handy for the shop owner as he was paid a lot less than the older staff and asked to put in extra hours during the day and night.

Ali Ahmed, who can mouth expletives like the older men around him, finds it difficult to sleep at night in the small bunk above a tea stall he shares with another boy near Charminar. The shrill cries of dying birds in a closed drum haunt him. His overworked joints are sore and his body bears the marks of the desperate animals that clawed and flapped against him while he can still feel the chicken faeces hitting his eyes, when the frightened birds released bowels before being slaughtered.

Like Ali, scores of little boys are brought to the city from Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh during Ramzan to work overtime in the innumerable meat shops across the city. Working for close to 18 hours a day, dozing off on the blood-stained floor, these children have often earned nothing other than occasional thrashing as the meagre amount that the shop owners pay go to their contractors. Some who stay back in the city often graduate to slaughtering bigger animals.

Defending the use of children for slaughtering and skinning chicken, some meat sellers say that it is a process of initiation to the harsh way of life that the children are expected to lead in the future. "It hardens the child and broadens his outlook of the world. There is no point hiding away from reality," says a meat shop owner who also encourages his 10-year-old son to butcher the animals.

His idea of child psychology is clearly alarming. "It is damaging for a child's psyche. In a world where we speak about controlling violence in films and television, it is unacceptable that these children have to experience this day in day out. It has been seen that a lot of them, mostly those who are not traditionally from a butcher family like these migrant children, turn to substance abuse and violence in future as a result of the stress and psychological trauma. But for those from the families, it is more of an initiation," said Dr A Rajesh, consultant psychiatrist at Aware Global Hospital in LB Nagar.

Apart from children like Ali who are employed whenever there is a requirement of extra hands, there are several other children who work regularly in the approximately 2,000 chicken outlets in Old City alone. "Children are used only in chicken shops, other meat shops need people with more strength to slaughter bigger animals," claims Ateeq Khan from Khan Mutton Shop.

Child rights activists say that the labour department should conduct frequent raids if this evil has to be stopped. Achhuta Rao from AP Balal Hakkula Sangham says, "There have hardly been one or two raids this year. Even so, the department focuses on big shops on the main roads when this practice is more common in smaller shops in colonies. We have no right to take away the childhood of these kids. They lose innocence, become cruel and often end up turning into anti-social elements in future."

India’s growing meat industry
MUMBAI: Downtown Mumbai, the old Colonial area, is a modern and clean city. Upscale restaurants, shops and the crowded streets are a symbol of the future of India’s push toward infrastructure development. At almost every turn is a restaurant.

Ironically, for a country based largely on its religious majority Hindu faith – a religion that for the most part is vegetarian – meat is on the menu. And in large amounts. TimeOut Mumbai lists numerous “hot spots” and the latest trendy hang-out location. Many, if not all, single out the restaurant or bar’s top dish, consisting largely of meat. India has gone meaty, animal rights activists told earlier this year.

“We have seen it rise up as the country tries to entice those wealthy companies and businesses to come to the country,” said Sanjay, a Mumbai-based computer programmer who has been an avid supporter of animal rights. He argued that the rise in “Western-style development has also meant the beginning of their horrible factory farm industry.”

Some two and a half hours away from Mumbai is Nasik, a fast-growing city that has seen massive development projects in recent years. On the outskirts of the city is one of the many dairy farms. Large concrete walls hold hundreds of cows, in small cubicles. They defecate on the ground. The same ground they attempt to sleep on. For many activists, the new India is not so much the India they are hopeful for.

“I just wish we would have been able to keep a lot of what was Indian,” added Sanjay. But not all of India is Hindu, and even those who are, still enjoy a good meat dish.

The Sukrut Nirman Charitable Trust has said that meat production, what animal activists call killing, has seen a near two-fold increase in the past decade.

According to their statistics, published in Times of India, the country “poduces an estimated 6.27 million tons, which is 2.21 percent of the world’s meat production

“Buffalo meat is about 23.33 percent, cattle 17.34 percent, sheep 4.61 percent, goat 9.36 percent, pig 5.31 percent, poultry 36.68 percent and other species 3.37 percent.”

For those who are calling for an India that cherishes its non-violent history and its vegetarianism, the numbers are a staggering reality of the costs animals are now paying in the country.

NMC seeks manpower to manage stray animals

NASHIK: The civic body has invited tenders for impounding stray animals and transporting them to the NMC's kondwada (animal pound) which was constructed to house the city's strays. A fortnight ago, corporators of prabhag 26 in Bhadrakali, Sufi Jin ( NCP) and Sameena Memon (Congress) had visited the area alongwith municipal commissioner Sanjay Khandare over the issue. The commissioner assured the corporators that he would look into the matter.

"In the Bhadrakali kondwada, a family has now made its home. The place was constructed for stray animals but is now lying abandoned. while citizens face problems due to stray animals blocking busy streets. Ganjamal road is always full of strays. There is also a danger of the animals may being hit by vehicles," said Jin. "Our attempt is to make the kondwada functional and consequently make things easy for people and the animals as well," Jin added.

NMC standing committee chairman Uddhav Nimse, had said that the NMC does not have the manpower or machinery to transport the animals. "Moreover, the responsibility does not end at just transporting stray animals, we have to also feed them," he said. On further probing Nimse added that no budgetary provision had been made for this.

A senior engineer at the civic body's public works department said that the kondawada was constructed by the municipal council and was operational till the early 1990s. The anti-encroachment departmentcaught and transported the animals while the divisional offices took care of the captured strays. An official said that due to lack of manpower, this exercise was stopped.
The official said that after appointing the contractor once the bid process is complete the next step of feeding the animals would also be sorted out.

Animal welfare organizations slam govt move to set up 25 new abattoirs

NAGPUR: Animal welfare organizations have slammed the ministry of food processing industries (MFPI) decision to set up 25 new abattoirs and modernize 25 existing ones across the country before 2014.

Animal welfare organizations like Sukrut Nirman Charitable Trust (Nagpur), People for Animals (Haryana) and International Organization for Animal Protection (OIPA) in India say that the government is fooling the people.

Kanakrai Savadia, chairman of Sukrut, said there is no check on conditions in slaughter houses which are "primitive and unhygienic". "Slaughter houses are exposing the workers and consumers to the fatal zoonotic and food-borne infections. Besides, animals are subjected to cruelty at all stages," he said.

Listing out the figures, Savadia said the present production of meat in India is estimated at 6.27 million tonnes, which is 2.21% of the world's meat production. The contribution of meat from buffalo is about 23.33%, while cattle contributes about 17.34%, sheep 4.61%, goat 9.36%, pig 5.31%, poultry 36.68% and other species 3.37%.

"The meat production has increased and if you see the figures, contribution of buffalo meat accounts for more than 75% of total exports of meat sector. This is causing milk shortage and putting pressure on cow and cattle slaughter," Savadia told TOI.

A few modern abattoirs in India are run largely by big private players exporting meat. "The government only wants to help these players on the pretext of improving hygienic meat production and, more importantly, with an eye on foreign exchange through export," Savadia added.

Savadia says the exporters are resorting to outsourcing of meat from small traders rather than slaughtering at their own facility. This is due labour problems and hitches in procurement of animals. This has led to a spurt in illegal purchase of meat from local butchers at predetermined price and then export it after processing and packaging.

"Another critical problem we are facing is dwindling animal population because of indiscriminate slaughter of animals mainly for export just to satisfy foreign consumers," said Savadia.

The Central Leather Institute (CLI), Chennai, run by the government has expressed grave concern over the indiscriminate slaughter of animals of export especially buffaloes. The CLI says livestock in India in relation to human population is much lower compared to many livestock holding countries. There is an immediate need to arrest the present practice of indiscriminate slaughter of young and productive animals.

Naresh Kadyan, OIPA's India representative, said, "We have already opposed the MFPI decision. The slaughterhouses are playing havoc and no steps have been taken over the years to improve the situation. New abattoirs would cause more problems."

Kadyan said the country will have to face an acute shortage of animals and animal products. Existing slaughterhouses are unable to meet their requirements and hence procuring buffaloes by illegal means.

"We will file a PIL if the decision is not withdrawn. The export-oriented slaughterhouses are killing productive milch buffaloes clandestinely to fulfil export commitments," said Abishekh Kadyan, leader of PFA, Haryana.

Savadia says the depletion in cattle population has brought about a steep escalation in the cost of all animals. The most unfortunate fallout of this has been on small farmers. They are lured to sell their animals, but soon discover that it is impossible to buy fresh stock again.

Anuradha Prasad, joint secretary of MFPI, did not respond to a query sent to her. However, her office could only confirm that proposals from prospective bidders have been received and scrutiny has been done. The issue will be put before the group of ministers (GOM) for approval soon.

Meaty Tales

India poduces an estimated 6.27 million tonnes which is 2.21% of the world's meat production

Buffalo meat is about 23.33%, cattle 17.34%, sheep 4.61%, goat 9.36%, pig 5.31%, poultry 36.68% and other species 3.37%

The government only wants to help the big meat exporters on the pretext of improving hygienic meat production. It also has an eye on foreign exchange through export

Kanakrai Savadia | chairman of Sukrut Nirman Charitable Trust

We have already opposed the decision. The slaughterhouses are playing havoc and no steps have been taken over the years to improve the situation. New abattoirs would cause more problems

Naresh Kadyan | OIPA's India representative

We will file a PIL if the decision is not withdrawn. The export-oriented slaughterhouses are killing productive milch buffaloes clandestinely to fulfill export commitments

Abishekh Kadyan | PFA chief, Haryana

Friday, 24 August 2012

Mock meat recipes for vegetarians


Looks like we finally have a food trend that both vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians will vouch for. If you love eating meat on a regular basis, but don’t want to include it in every meal, you can now opt for mock meats, a vegetarian substitute for real meat. Also know as fake or faux meat, these substitutes are usually made with wheat gluten or soy! Just like regular meat, they try and mimic its chewy texture and are a very good source of protein, minus the cholesterol found in non-vegetarian meat! They are healthier as they don’t contain animal fat and usually have fiber, which is absent in animal products. Be it faux franks or fish made from seaweed — you have a wide variety of mock meats to choose from. So why follow Meatless Mondays (an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet) when you can go meatless any day of the week!

Says Vicky Ratnani, Head chef, Aurus, “Mock meats taste like meat but they are textured vegetable proteins (TVP) made from soy. People who are health-conscious are resorting to mock meats. After all, it has health benefits — it is light on the stomach and easier to digest. It can give you flavours similar to meat. Moreover, it is a great option for people who want to taste meat but can’t do so due to religious constraints.” Foodie Vaishali Honawar, writer of the first Indian vegan recipe blog, Holy Cow! comments, “India’s long legacy of compassion towards animals is in serious threat because of modern animal farming methods. Animals raised for food are treated with utter cruelty. With mock meats, these problems are not applicable.”
No wonder, in a country which has countless options when it comes to vegetarian cuisine, mock meats are slowly making headway, as people are more willing to experiment with food.

Inputs by — Vicky Ratnani, Head chef, Aurus, Gaurav Dabrai, Director of F&B, Kino 108; Vaishali Honawar, food blogger, Holy Cow!

Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson win battle to free elephant in India

Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson win battle to free elephant in India London: Sir Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson are celebrating after their campaign to save an Indian elephant from a life of misery ended in triumph.

The former ‘Baywatch’ star and the Beatles singer publicly backed a drive by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to rescue Sunder, an elephant who suffered injuries after being mistreated by his handler and kept chained in the dark for seven years at the Jyotiba Temple in Maharashtra, India, a leading daily has reported.

Both stars sent letters to Indian officials urging them to step in and end the scandal.

“I have seen photographs of young Sunder, the elephant kept alone in a shed at a temple and put in chains with spikes,” McCartney had written.

“Years of his life have been ruined by keeping him and abusing him in this way. Enough is enough. Get Sunder out,” he wrote.

On Thursday, it emerged that Sunder is to be moved from the temple to a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre near Bangalore after an intervention by the country’s Forest Minister Dr. Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam.

A PETA spokesman said, “The difference between Sunder’s cruel life in chains at the temple and his new journey to freedom, love and care is like night and day... We are grateful to the Forest Minister for agreeing to liberate Sunder and let him enjoy things that are natural and important to him for the first time in his life.”

Monday, 20 August 2012

Activists rescue a dog stabbed with screw driver

AHMEDABAD: A stray dog bore the brunt of some anti-social persons when it was stabbed its hindquarters. The animal was howling in pain when it was rescued from CTM by a city-based animal help foundation on Sunday. The activists said that the cruelty will result into permanent walking disability for the animal.

According to Asha Animal Foundation volunteers, they got a call on Sunday morning about a stray dog in need of help.

"When we reached the spot in Shridharnagar, we were utterly shocked. Somebody had actually stabbed the dog with a screw driver in its upper thigh. The tool was stabbed into the dog's body up to the handle. The dog was limping and crying out in pain. We had to extract the pick and give it sedatives to keep it calm. We are afraid that the injury would damage the rear legs beyond treatment," said a volunteer.
The volunteers got to know from the local residents that some of the shop owners did not like the fact that the dog sat on their doorstep and might have stabbed it to scare it away.

After sandalwood trees, animals under threat at BU campus
Early morning walkers stumble on snares laid out to trap and kill protected wildlife inside the 500-acre university campus. And the most shocking part? They were found near a guarded area belonging to the forest department

A group of early morning walkers ambling through a verdant Bangalore University campus froze in their tracks on Saturday: Before them lay five to six snares laid by poachers that could have easily killed wildlife inside – from peacocks and mongoose to wild rabbits and jackals, all protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act.

Only last month, Bangalore Mirror carried a report on how sandalwood smugglers were getting richer with impunity inside the 500-acre campus (40 sandalwood trees carted away; 50 more hacked, left to wither). And now, alarm bells are clanging again over the city’s largest biodiversity reserve.

“We were shocked to see the snares,” a walker told Bangalore Mirror. “This clearly shows that poachers have stepped inside this forest too. What are the officials doing? When a common man can point out these snares, why can’t officials, who are meant to do so?”

The snares and traps are similar to the ones Haryana-based poachers had laid at Biligiri Ranga Temple (BRT) wildlife sanctuary and which were discovered in July.

Made of material similar to clutch cables in motorcycles, they were laid in artificially created cavities to trap wildlife. This is the first time that such snares have been found within the campus.

The morning walkers, who also happen to be wildlife enthusiasts, pointed out these snares laid near the nursery towards Mariyappanpalya.

They were clearly visible, unlike regular snares that are often camouflaged by greenery. There were, however, some creepers which would have grown with time to hide the snares.

Thoughtfully chosen
The greatest shock, however, is due to the fact that the snares were laid near a guarded nursery which stands on land belonging to the forest department. The spot seems to have been a well thought-out choice since the nursery has compound walls and a gate.

To get to this part of the forest, wildlife have no choice but to take the path through the cavity. In doing so, they fall into the trap, the walkers said. “These snares are dangerous as they are left hanging. Once a wild animal or bird makes an attempt to pass through, the noose tightens around the neck and the animals and birds are killed. “The more they struggle to get out, the tighter the noose becomes. This is a serious issue,” a source said.

Snares common among poachers
These snares are said to be common among poachers. They are usually camouflaged and around five or six are placed together in paths frequented by wild animals. The method does not leave a trace after the animals are killed. The products are then sold illegally.

Walkers in the university, who have decided to take up the issue with the forest department, think that a students’ initiative could protect wildlife under risk.

“It is the responsibility of students to protect the flora and fauna they are blessed with. As government departments are involved in blame games, students on the campus should bring about a change and keep poachers and sandalwood smugglers at bay,” Maheshwar H, a local resident said.

‘We will look into it’
Forest department officials said this was a first. “Putting snares is preparing the ground for poaching. This is an important issue and we will look into it. The government land was part of the property that was handed over to the university long back. They have to provide adequate security inside. Though snares were not found in the past and no poaching has been reported so far, the finding of snares will be looked into and an inquiry conducted to ensure nothing goes wrong,” A G Appurao, DCF, told Bangalore Mirror.

Govt yet to set up animal welfare board

PATNA: Despite the Centre's directive in October 2008 to constitute state animal welfare board (SAWB) within three months, Bihar government has failed to set up the body even in 45 months.

Acting on a Supreme Court order dated August 6, 2008, the Union government issued the directive to all the state governments to constitute their SAWB within three months. The main objective was to promote animal welfare and protect animals from unnecessary suffering as well as to ensure proper enforcement of the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960, in the states.

The office of the principal accountant general (PAG), Bihar, while conducting an integrated audit of the animal and fisheries resources department in August 2011, also raised the issue of non-constitution of the SAWB. While replying to the PAG, the state government stated in November 2011 that the constitution of the SAWB was under process.

As the state government failed to constitute the board even by the end of December 2011, the PAG, in its audit report dated February 22, 2012, termed the non-constitution of the SAWB by Bihar government as "total violation of the Supreme Court's directives."

When contacted, Bihar animal and fisheries resources minister Giriraj Singh told TOI that there was a need of such board in Bihar and the state government would set up the same.

"I would inquire from the department officials about the status of constitution the board once the secretariat opens after the Eid festival," the minister said.

The PAG, in its report, has also raised concern over "inactiveness and non-functioning" of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCAs), a district-level statutory body constituted under the provisions of Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

The Union government, vide a notification dated March 26, 2001, asked all the state governments to establish SPCAs in every district within six months. These societies were intended to support the government and local bodies in enforcing the provisions of the Act.

Scrutiny of the department records by the auditors revealed that the SPCAs, under the chairmanship of the district magistrates, were established in all districts, except Rohtas, between January, 2008 to June, 2010. "It was also observed that in the test-checked districts, these societies were inactive and non-functional ever since their establishment," the PAG (Audit) R B Sinha has said in his report.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Cow urine products from India seized in Britain


Herbal remedies and massage oils containing cow urine, poisonous plants, goat meat and ground tiger claws that were smuggled from India have been seized by border officials in Britain.
A total of 45 boxes containing the products were bound for Birmingham, when they were stopped at Felixstowe Port in Suffolk, the Daily Mail reported.

The substances were found in ingredients of the 450 ml herbal remedy and five-litre massage oil bottles.

Several cockroaches that had fermented in the boxes were also found.

Import-export of tiger derivatives is strictly controlled under the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Items can only be brought into or sent out of the European Union if the correct permits have been applied for and issued.

Details of the seizure have been referred to customs authorities in India, which will decide whether to take further action against the exporter, the daily said.

"We are on the look-out for endangered species and products of animal origin. Unregulated imports can harm the survival of rare species as well as potentially bringing diseases into Britain," said Lance Cruse, from the Border Force at Felixstowe.

"It is likely that the ground tiger claws would have come from tigers that were illegally poached," he said.

Hindu family-run Punjab university asks Subway to sell all vegetarian

JALANDHAR: Sandwich giant and world's biggest restaurant chain with 37,000 outlets across globe, Subway, is now ready to roll out its first ever all-vegetarian outlet after a private state university in Jalandhar convinced the U.S.-based footlong franchisor on the benefits of vegeterianism.

Jalandhar-based Lovely Professional University, run by a strict Hindu Mittal community, known for promotion of vegetarian meals on the campus inked the deal with Subway in November 2011.

""Our university has always promotes healthy eating for its students. It was a natural fit for Subway to be present here"" Ashok Mittal, Vice Chancellor, LPU told TOI.

The outlet will be operational by mid-August this year.

This will be a marked change in form for the company that has established very popular meat-based subways (a variation sandwich) and has only two vegetarian products in its American and European menus.

""We as a brand are always sensitive to the requirements of the markets. India as a country has a large vegetarian population and right from the beginning we have had separate counters for our vegetarian and non-vegetarian sandwiches. In reviewing the requirements of the university campus and customer demands we have created a all veg menu for our Subway outlet at LPU"" Chetan Arora, development agent, Subway India told TOI.

At present, Subway has 280 outlets in India.

None of them sells beef and all of them have an entirely separate counter serving six vegetarian preparations such as chickpeas, aloo patty, veggi shammi, paneer-based salads and so on.

Faced with thousands of consumers begging for more meatless options and organisations like People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) running Compassion Over Killing campaigns, many restaurant chains including Pizza Hut in Gujarat have turned meatless in the past.

According to United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisaton (FAO) figures from 2007, the most recent figures available, India's per capita meat consumption rates, are still below the average in Asia -- 27 kilograms or 59.5 pounds -- and the rest of the world, which eats 38 kilograms or 83.7 pounds.

""India is considered the birthplace of vegetarianism and about 31% of people in India are vegetarian. When most compassionate people learn about how chickens raised for meat they're eager to learn about a vegan diet"" Bhuvaneshwari Gupta, nutritionist and campaign coordinator, PETA India told TOI, while welcoming the Subway an university's new iniative.

The vegetarian outlet is located in a university campus buy one get on free sale within the first two weeks of opening to announce our presence in the University, said.

Privatisation of slaughter house opposed
PUNE: A group of citizens and corporators across parties have opposed the decision to privatize the Pune Municipal Corporation's (PMC) slaughter house in Kondhwa. The civic standing committee on Tuesday approved the privatization plan.

The proposal came up for discussion in May, but the standing committee had kept it in abeyance when it ran into opposition. Several warkaris and members of other communities had staged an agitation in June outside the civic body's headquarters opposing the privatization plan. They said it would lead to the slaughter of far too many animals.

PMC had received five proposals for the tender to privatise the slaughter house. PMC selected a Delhi-based company for the contract. The civic body had recently spent over Rs 6 crore on renovating and modernizing the abattoir.

"The decision to privatize the abattoir is not right. It will not only harm animals, but also create problems for the people in nearby areas," said Shreenath Bhimale, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of the standing committee.

Aba Bagul, a Congress leader in PMC, said that animal killing would go up, if the abattoir was given in private hands. "The private firm is paying huge sum for running the slaughter house. If it has to recover the money and make profit, the company will have no option but to increase the number of animals that are supposed to be slaughtered. Currently around 50 animal are slaughtered and the number is likely to increase further," he said.

Matrubhumi Dakshata Chalval, a social organisation stated that the PMC should cancel the decision. "The decision is sending a wrong message in the society. The number of animals such as buffaloes, cows and bulls is reducing day by day and there is a need to save the cattle", said a statement issued by the organisation.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Official iftars in Gujarat an all-veg affair

AHMEDABAD: This happens only in Gujarat! Emperor Akbar turned a vegetarian here. Pizza Hut opened its first vegetarian outlet in Ahmedabad. And, now the US consul general hosted an iftar sans non-veg food.
The blend between Jainism and Islam is not just limited to architecture in Gujarat , it manifests itself in the way of life here. When US consul general Peter D Haas hosted an iftar on Monday — the first ever outside Mumbai — to promote interfaith interactions , the menu provided some food for thought. The guests broke their fast with the traditional sherbet-e-iftar and dates, but the main course was not mutton kababs and chicken curry, it was potato and paneer sabzi.
Despite being in Sadbhavana mode, the Narendra Modi government doesn't host iftars , but many former chief ministers like Madhavsinh Solanki, Amarsinh Chaudhary and Chimanbhai Patel — all non-BJP CMs — regularly played host during Ramzan. Each one of them kept in mind local sensitivities and stuck to a vegetarian course.
When BJP came to power in 1995, the then CM Keshubhai Patel was in two minds about hosting iftar lest he invite the ire of Sangh Parivar hardliners. But, former prime minister A B Vajpayee asserted that Keshubhai host iftar. He played host twice — but avoided non-vegetarian food. The Raj Bhavan, which has a tradition of hosting iftars , too sticks to a 100% veg menu. Observers say it is the strong Jain-Vaishnav ethos in the state which everyone — be it politicians or businessmen — respects, even while reaching out to other communities . 
Some years ago when Pizza Hut did a market survey in Ahmedabad before opening its first outlet in Gujarat , it was surprised by the overwhelming response for a vegetarian outlet. An Ahmedabad-based hotel and restaurant chain opened a 5-star pure vegetarian hotel in Surat . 
Akbar, who had great respect for Jainism, had banned slaughtering animals during Paryushan, the Jain festival. He even rolled back the Jazia tax from Jain pilgrim places like Palitana. Akbar had received a delegation led by a Jain monk who walked to Fatehpur Sikri and persuaded the emperor to forbid the slaughter of animals for six months in Gujarat.

Wildlife activists want more teeth for animal enforcement law

The two separate cases of killing and torture of birds in Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu respectively have shocked both wildlife experts and animal welfare activists.
In Uttarakhand, 250 egret chicks were killed when school authorities brought down an old tree with their nests. And in Tamil Nadu, more than 7,000 emus starved in Perundurai-based Susi Emu Farms when suppliers stopped providing them food.
Following these tragic events, demands have surfaced for enforcement of Preservation of Tree Act (Urban) (Rural) to prevent the random felling of large old trees that are breeding and nesting sites of birds. Wildlife experts and animal welfare activists have also called for the enactment of Animal Welfare Legislation Amendment Bill 2011, pending in the Environment Ministry.
According to wildlife expert Kishore Rithe and member of Standing Committee, National Board for Wildlife, the incident involving the killing of egret chicks by felling an old tree in a school violates both Wildlife Protection Act and the  Preservation of Tree Act (Urban) (Rural). The school authorities should have sought permission from the concerned Government agency, he said.
The felling of large trees is especially worrisome because June to August is breeding season for storks, egrets, herons etc in north India. During this period such birds flock for nesting. In south India, the breeding period for these birds is between November and March.
“Certain trees or locations specifically selected by these birds for specific reasons because of which they come there again and again,” pointed out ornithologist Dr Asad Rahmani who is also director of Bombay Natural History Society.
“It could have been a lesson on conservation by the school to its students,” said Rahmani. He added that the school authorities should have at least certainly waited for the season to be over instead of felling the tree so arbitrarily. They should have put some nets for the dropping chicks, instead of just letting them fall from the tree and die, he said.
Anjali Sharma, executive committee member, Animal Welfare Board of India and who is also an animal welfare activist and lawyer, regretted that there are not enough regulations for animal welfare. Also, the penalties attached to the existing regulations are meagre. Emu farms in Tamil Nadu, Haryana among others attract huge investments as almost every part of their body has high commercial value and they are prolific breeders.
“But the manner in which they were left to starve by the owners reaching the point that the birds were attacking each other for food is horrendous,” she said.
It calls for immediate strengthening of legal provisions in animal protection. The Animal Welfare Act 1960 is archaic and the new animal welfare bill is pending in the Environment Ministry since the past one year, she added.
“Such an act is violation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act and the licence owners should be booked under this law,” pointed out Rithe.

Platters for animals

Ceramic platters to raise money for animal shelters
People for Animals (PFA) is featuring ceramic platters at its annual fundraiser. A thousand-odd original platters by artists, from all over the country, will be on sale. “There is a wide range of platters from 18 inches to 24 inches in diameter, which are priced between Rs. 5,000 and a lakh,” said Shilpa Chaudhary of the PFA. The unique handcrafted pieces have been done by renowned artists including Yogesh Mahida, Kristine Michael, Jyoti Bhatt, Vinod Daroz and Rini Dhumal.
PFA, headed by Lok Sabha member Maneka Gandhi, lobbies for animals rights and conducts advocacy campaigns in India. They also run a network of veterinary health centres and mobile hospitals and carry out animal disaster rescue missions all across the country. PFA aims to have an animal welfare centre in every district in India.PFA is aiming at generating Rs. 60 lakhs from the sale.
While regular potters are apprehensive about experimenting with shapes, for fear of them cracking in the furnace, these artists have spent months experimenting with shapes, using the finest clays and glazes to create these masterpieces. They are in various shapes and textures inspired by themes like space, the sea and auto rickshaws. There are brilliant works that can fit ones budget too — like Leena Batra’s platter — based on the fairytale The Frog Prince— which costs only Rs.6000. The works are like paintings with three dimensions. Works like those by Neha Pullarwar and Neera Makhija have an aboriginal fossilised look to them, while Keshari Nandan’s clouds on a black platter have an antique Greek touch to it.
PFA’s annual fundraisers — taking place since 1987 — concentrate on emerging genres in the art market. Previous exhibitions have featured porcelain mugs, designer T-shirts, antique tiles and Raj-era lithographs. The prices of the platters, according to the PFA, are lower than those in the open market. So if you want to stock up your art collection, what better time and cause than this.
The exhibition is from August 17 to August 19 at The Lalit on Barakhamba Road.

Monday, 13 August 2012

'Infirmary for animal care not appointed under Cruelty Act'

PANAJI: The state government could have avoided the liability it suffered in the bulls' medical bill payment case had it appointed infirmaries for the treatment and care of animals. The latter is a requirement under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

Section 35 (1) of the Act empowers the government to appoint infirmaries for the treatment and care of animals. Section 35 (4) of the Act provides that the cost of transporting the animal to an infirmary, and its maintenance and treatment at the infirmary, shall be payable by the owner of the animal in accordance with the scale of rates to be prescribed by a district magistrate.

In the case between the government and the cattle owner, in the case involving nine rescued bulls, the additional sessions court at Margao had referred to these sections of the Act.

The court held that "in such a case strict compliance of the aforesaid provisions of law is warranted and the cost of treatment of the bulls can be obtained from the owner only if the said bulls are kept in a government-appointed infirmary and further if the cost of treatment is in accordance with the scale of rates prescribed by the district magistrate/commissioner of police".

Dealing with this aspect, the high court of Bombay at Goa, hearing an aggrieved government, held that the additional sessions court is right in holding that the intervener (PAWS) was not appointed as an infirmary by the state government in terms of Section 35 (1), as the government neither produced any notification before the sessions court nor before the high court.

The high court also observed that the government has not been able to point out any notification issued by the district magistrate in terms of Section 35 (4) of the Act mentioning the costs of maintenance and treatment in an infirmary.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Is man-animal conflict on decline?

NAGPUR: Tigers and leopards are always clouded in mystery for raging man-animal conflict. But there is a sudden decline in the raging conflict this year with 39 human deaths as compared to 58 last year in Maharashtra.

Various theories and parameters are being put forward by the forest officials and experts on conflict, but a scientific study has never been done to ascertain the facts. This year's death toll of 39 is on the lower side if last two years' figures are considered.

During April to March 2010-11, 58 persons were mauled to death while 919 were injured by wild animals - mostly tigers and leopards. During the same period in 2011-12, as many as 39 deaths and 635 cases of injuries were reported, a decline by over 30%. Of the 39 victims in 15 forest circles, 8 were in Chandrapur, 7 in Nagpur, 4 in Yavatmal, 3 each in Dhule, Mumbai, Kolhapur and Gadchiroli and 2 each in Thane, Nashik, Aurangabad and Amravati.

Chandrapur district continues to be worst-affected with 8 deaths and 157 injury cases this year. Although the death toll is low compared to 2010-12 when 17 villagers were mauled and 202 injured. Most of the victims were shepherds and fuel-wood collectors who moved deep inside the jungles.

Why there is a sudden decline in the man-animal conflict? Is it because the number of deaths of predators like tigers and leopards increasing or are people learning to coexist with them?

SWH Naqvi, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Maharashtra, says the decline in number of human deaths fluctuates every year. "With the fragmentation of tiger habitats you can't say the trend will remain the same in future," he said.

Secondly, Naqvi said, "The conflict has come down, especially in Chandrapur, due to massive awareness. As the number of tigers has gone up, people have become more cautious. Tigers have also become tolerant with human presence due to shrinking spaces."

Naqvi cited the example of radio-collared Tass tigress which showed how tigers were coexisting with humans.
However, experts like Nitin Desai, Central India director of Wildlife Protection Society of India ( WPSI), says every theory is a wild guess. There can be several parameters to the man-animal conflict theory.

"It may be possible that conflict caused by particular animals at various locations by repeatedly attacking humans might have been eliminated," Desai said. Another possibility, he says, may be increase in prey species due to which tigers turning towards cattle must have gone down.

"You also cannot rule out awareness as one of the reasons. People have been taking extra care due to large number of attacks by tigers and leopards. However, it is a debatable issue and a scientific study needs to be done," Desai said.

The forest department needs to conduct a study as number of cattle kill cases has gone down from 5,822 in 2010-11 to 4,173 in 2011-12.

On the contrary, Prafulla Bhamburkar, manager, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), says, "Conflict has gone down as problem animals have been eliminated. There were over a dozen tiger deaths during the same period. Many leopards also died due to poaching, mishaps and poisoning. I don't think awareness will stop villagers from entering the forests for fuel-wood and minor forest produce (MFP) collection."

Forest dept may acquire stun guns to subdue straying wild animals

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It looks more like something that you see in science fiction movies. The United States Marshals Service uses this electroshock weapons in law-enforcement operations. These stun guns may soon become part of Kerala forest department's armoury, and may be used to scare away wild animals that stray into human habitats close to buffer zones along the Western Ghats.

Such animal attacks are common in villages close to forest areas in Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Wayanad and Thiruvananthapuram.

On firing, the darts carrying electric shock, penetrate the animal's skin disrupting its voluntary control of muscles. The shock will then incapacitate the animal, numbing its nervous system by cutting off the neuro-impluse network to the brain.

Forest officials said traditional methods - traps, tranquilizer shots - have not been effective in subduing a violent animal on the prowl.

"We have lost many lives because we could neither shoot down the animal nor save the victim. The stun guns will be used in life-and-death situations where there is hardly any time for response," a senior forest official said. He said this device could even be used for overpowering elephants that go on the rampage under 'musth'. "Usually, it takes hours to calm down such elephants. But one shot from this gun can bring an elephant to its knees, and then mahouts can take over."

Animal rights activists weren't convinced, however. When this weapon was used on humans, there were many fatalities, they claimed.

"The government shouldn't procure these deadly devices; there are many other scientific options to subdue an animal. Man-animal conflicts have been on the rise because forest cover is rapidly shrinking due to road and building construction in forest areas. We are encroaching on animal-land," said Maneka Gandhi, animal right activist and founder-president of People For Animals. According to her, the electroshock stun guns can be fired only at close range and this will cause permanent damage to an animal's brain.

"There has not been any study done on its impact of this weapon on animals. We are not addressing the real problem, but only trying to find short-term solutions that will create more health problems for animals," she said.

Paramjit Singh, head of Taser International (India), said that 10,000 Taser guns are being used in the USA both by Marshal Services and wildlife officials monitoring safari parks.

"An enquiry conducted by the US justice department found that victims who were high on drugs suffered a cardiac arrest after being shot with it," he said.

Pro-veg campaign gets support
HUBLI: The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,' so said Mahatma Gandhi. To ensure that, People for Animal Liberation (PAL), an NGO fighting against non-vegetarianism, has been organizing Vegetarian Day on August 9 every year. The day is historically significant as the Father of Nation declared 'Quit India' movement in 1942.

As part of Vegetarian Day campaign, hundreds of PAL activists, including students, staged a demonstration at Dharmaveer Sambhaji Circle here on Thursday, wearing masks of different animals and birds. Such demos were simultaneously organized at different parts of the country, with the state campaign being held here. Holding placards and signboards, activists raised slogans on vegetarianism. Volunteer Suma Hulbatte said: "Animals also have the right to live, and it's unfair slaughtering them." Several Jain community leaders like Raju Doddannavar, Rajendra Jain and others were present.

PAL (India) was formed two years ago in Jaipur (Rajasthan) to promote animal rights around the world. Within a short period, it gathered a wide network of volunteers and activists from across the nation. Being an animal rights organization, PAL has also been involved in educating people through plays, demonstrations and awareness programmes. The programme launched through social media is gaining worldwide support. PAL co-ordinator Sudharm Mudalgi said using animals as a food and for entertainment, clothing and experiments is nothing but abuse. "They should be treated with respect, and should never be exploited. PAL works on a simple principle that animals too have right to live," he said.Sudharm said human body is meant for vegetarian food, and having non-vegetarian is against the nature.

"The body structure of non-vegetarian animals is completely different in terms of teeth, nails, digestion mechanism, etc. According to the findings of World Health Organization, non-veg food causes heart-related diseases, cancer and cholesterol," he added.

"Of late, many sportspersons, doctors, models and film stars are turning vegetarians. In America, around one million people have shunned non-veg food. In England, around 2,000 turn pure vegetarians every week," Rajendran told TOI.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Animal rescue missions get a 'rapid response'

LUCKNOW: At a time when man-animal conflicts are increasing, sticking to obsolete methods for rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals can worsen the situation. The forest department knows the importance of modern equipment in such rescue operations, but is always short of funds to procure them.

Realising the financial limitations of the forest department, an NGO, Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), has gifted the department a modern rescue vehicle. WCT has given the vehicle as a part of its corporate and social responsibility.
The vehicle, called Rapid Response Unit, is stationed at Lucknow zoo. As the name goes, the vehicle is meant for quick response by forest and wildlife teams in times of crisis.

"Immediately after it came, the vehicle was used in the rescue operation in Pratapgarh to control the conflict where a stray leopard had gone unruly," said Rupak De, APCCF, Wildlife and chief wildlife warden, UP. "The vehicle's cost is about Rs 17 lakh. Since, we have added equipment to it, the cost has gone up to some Rs 22 lakh," he added.

The biggest advantage of a rescue vehicle is that it's equipped with features that can speed up the rescue operations. Apart from two tranquilising guns ready with supportive drugs (required for darting an animal), it has several add-ons as well. "The best part is that it's always ready and can be driven to the place of conflict immediately," said zoo director Renu Singh.

The department, till now, used an ordinary truck as a rescue vehicle, with an enclosure attached to it for transporting the rescued animal. If the rescued animal was injured, its treatment was possible only after it was taken to a veterinary unit. Since veterinary units at the district level are generally ill-equipped, the injured animal had to be brought to Lucknow zoo for treatment.

But, with the Rapid Response Unit in operation, a rescued animal can now be given immediate treatment as the vehicle is equipped with a treatment kit. The rescue operations in the state have so far been messy. The divisions facing the man-animal conflicts take time in arranging everything, right from tranquillising guns to the enclosures.

Such operations will, however, become swift now as the Rapid Response Unit has everything ready at one place.

The vehicle has been designed keeping in mind the rescued animals as well as the rigors faced by the rescue teams. The vehicle is equipped with blankets and mosquito nets, folding cots, search lights and generators to make it easy for the rescue teams. The biggest challenge, however, before the department is to keep the vehicle in ready-to-use mode.

Carriage-Horse Cruelty in Mumbai, Judge Orders Reports on Conditions

Sick, injured, overworked and malnourished horses are being forced to drag overcrowded carriages (called “Victorias”) through dense and dangerous traffic in Mumbai, India, claim animal-rights activists in public-interest litigation recently submitted to the high court in Bombay.

There have been numerous accidents recorded in this congested city in which both horses and humans have been seriously injured or even killed. Recently, a horse carriage skidded at Gateway of India in Mumbai and seriously injured two passengers. In September last year, another horse pulling a carriage collapsed in the street from exhaustion, according to reports.

After review of the evidence contained in the petition, a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar ordered that any unfit horses should be reported to the BMC’s executive health officer and should not be allowed to be returned to the carriage until their owners get a fitness certificate, according to (The BMC is the Brihan Mumbai Corporation--a major civic corporation in India, which manages the civic requirements of Mumbai.)

Adding strength to the ongoing PIL filed by the Animals and Birds Charitable Trust, an intervention application by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India was accepted by the Bombay High Court, reported on July 7, 2012.  PETA  states that in recent years it has gathered substantial evidence of cruelty to horses used to pull Victoria horse carriages in Mumbai, as well as the traffic risks they pose to citizens.

According to the court order, the original petitioners, Animals and Birds Charitable Trust and the Animal Welfare Board, will have to identify any unfit and sick horses and provide that information to the BMC's executive health officer. The officer will then summon the owner to produce the horse to be examined by a veterinarian from the committee appointed by the BMC. Unless the horse gets a fitness certificate, it will be prohibited from Mumbai streets.
The court also directed the officer to submit a report about the action it has initiated in such cases after three weeks. Meanwhile, the state submitted a list of schemes that could be made available to owners and drivers of horses to rehabilitate them, states.

Animal-protection advocates have been calling for a total ban on horses being used in Mumbai to pull carriages and are encouraged by this decision as at least a first step in providing more humane treatment for the animals. The horses are forced to live in filthy, damp stables amidst their own faces and urine and are often left to stand without any shade, which is a clear violation of law, state the activists who posted the video, Mumbai Horse Carriages Should be Banned (below)

There are approximately 170 horses in Mumbai harnessed to carriages ("Victorias") and around 100 owners and 107 drivers, states the petition filed by Animals and Birds Charitable Trust. Overwork, malnutrition, and lack of proper care are common problems, according to the campaigners.

A report submitted to the high court recently determined that, of the 371 horses examined by the BMC in the city and its suburbs, at least 196 needed treatment.

 The petitioners also claim that many horses show signs of tenderness in their feet due to maggot-riddled hooves. The skin of the horses had burn marks from the limestone used to cover saddle wounds, while their mouths showed injuries from the metal spike placed there to rein them in.. The conditions in stables were pitiable, with horses tethered next to garbage dumps, according to the report.

On June 14, representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Plant & Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) met with civic chief R.K. Somawane, and asked authorities to issue motorized rickshaw licenses to carriage owners willing to switch. Somawane reportedly assured them that no new licenses to drive horse carriages will be issued once the existing carriage drivers move to motor rickshaws.

New York activists have voiced similar ongoing concerns about the horse-carriage trade in New York City and are waging an aggressive effort to ban horse-drawn carriages there. Donny Moss, activist and filmmaker, was awarded a 2009 Genesis award by The Humane Society of the U.S. for BLINDERS, his documentary on the horse-carriage industry in New York and the inhumane conditions under which the horses work and live. (  I asked for Donny's opinion on the situation in Mumbai.

 He stated, "Horses shouldn't be pulling carriages in the streets in any urban area, much less Mumbai, which is one of the most congested cities in the world. When horses spook and flee amidst cars and pedestrians, people and horses are invariably injured or killed."

"Even if all of the horses were deemed healthy by veterinarians, the use of horses to pull carriages in any congested urban area is unsafe and inhumane.  

"When animals are used solely to make money for their owners, abuse and neglect are rampant, as demonstrated by the fact that over half of the horses in Mumbai examined by the government needed treatment."

VIDEO FROM MUMBAI;  Mumbai Horse Carriage should be banned 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Officials wake up to jumbo plight

KOTTAYAM: In the wake of spurt in atrocities committed against the elephants, the District Animal Husbandry department here has issued strict orders about following the rules regarding management of captive elephants.

These rules have to be followed by elephant owners, mahouts and public as well, said Dr Gopalakrishnan Nair, district animal husbandry officer. Atrocities against elephants should be brought to the attention of the department at the earliest, he said.

Forest, police, revenue and veterinary officials should be informed about using elephants for various functions. If more than three elephants are used, the service of the elephant squad should be sought.

Regarding the food for the elephants used in such functions, he said food with high water content and plenty of drinking water should be provided daily. Elephants showing symptoms of musth should not be used for festivals or put to any other work.

The name of the elephant and its owner should be displayed on a board and well trained mahouts(minimum two) should accompany these elephants. Mahouts should not consume alcohol while taking the elephant for a function or to work.

He also strictly banned using the services of the elephant for any function from 11am-3pm. During functions or festivals, when the elephants are used, a distance of 1.5 meters should be maintained on the sides and 4 meters in the front and back sides between elephants. No fireworks should be there within a radius of 50 meters.

Elephants should not be used for work or functions more than eight hours a day. They should be transported in vehicles strictly following the rules only. Necessary arrangements should be made for the elephant to take rest.

Those elephants brought from other district should have the certificate of the forest department. The elephant owners and mahouts should strictly follow the Kerala captive elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2003, he said.