Wednesday, 31 October 2012

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

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

'Mining taking heavy toll on Goa's wildlife'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 29 October 2012

Social vegetating

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

50000 animals sacrificed for Chhattar

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

Injured Victoria horse rescued from Colaba

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

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Illegal slaughterhouse raided by PFA activists in Thane

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

Activist's mother threatened

MAPUSA: An animal rights activist's mother was allegedly threatened by a panch member on Thursday.

A complaint in this regard has been lodged at the Mapusa police station. Animal lovers have condemned the incident.

John Fernandes, a member of the animal rescue squad - a animal rights NGO - had assisted forest officials to nab Assonora panch Francis Vaz on charges of storing nearly 7kg of venison in his refrigerator on October 5.

Janice Fernandes, mother of John, lodged the complaint with the Mapusa police that Assonora panch, Vaz, threatened her and her son with dire consequences if John did not tender an open apology to him. John, who is out of the state on a mission against illegal slaughtering, told TOI that Vaz came to his house on Thursday morning.

His house was closed and his mother had gone to work. Vaz managed to get the address, went to the mother's workplace and threatened her that her son will be beaten up.

John's mother, along with Amrutsingh of the animal rescue squad, approached the Mapusa police station and lodge the complaint against the Assonora panch member.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Rhino rescued after 8 days ordeal

GUWAHATI: After eight tense days, the female rhino that was stranded on a sand bar in the Brahmaputra, was rescued from Uparhali area, about 35km from here, on Sunday. The rhino had strayed out fromPobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and swept by the floodwaters to the Rani Chapori sand bar in the river. Uparhali, where the animal was found on Sunday, is about 10km from the sand bar.

A 17-member team comprising veterinarians, animal rescue experts and forest department officials tranquilized the rhino around 4.30pm on Sunday. The animal was put in a wooden crate that was loaded on a truck. The entire operation took more than three hours. Initially, an IAF chopper had been kept on standby at the city airport to airlift the rhino if necessary.

"It's been a successful operation. We are very happy that the rhino has been successfully darted. All credit goes to the rescue team, the frontline people and forest staff who were engaged in the rescue efforts from day one," forest minister Rockybul Hussain, who was present during the operation, said.

Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Suresh Chand said that the rhino will be taken to the Assam State Zoo here for treatment and necessary veterinary care before being released in the wild.

"We are taking the rhino to the zoo following the advice of senior veterinarian Dr K K Sharma as the animal has got injury marks and is aged. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has also instructed us to follow veterinarians' advice. We will release the rhino only after the necessary treatment is over at the zoo," Hussain said.

"Besides having injury marks and being old, the animal is also stressed out. So, we have to wait till the health of the animal improves," Sharma said. Last Sunday, the rhino had landed at Rani Chapori after being swept for about 15km by the strong current of the river. Initially, the rescue operation could not be carried out because of the inclement weather. The rhino was also in bad health at that time.

This Sunday, the rhino was found at Uparhali area, about 10km from Rani Chapori. The area where the rhino was spotted was surrounded by human settlements. With improvement in the weather condition, the rescue team decided to carry out the operation on Sunday.

"We have been constantly monitoring the health and movements of the rhino. All the while the animal was at Rani Chapori, the weather condition did not allow us to carry out the rescue operation. Since the weather improved on Sunday, we went ahead with the task," one of the rescue team members said.