Sunday, 25 November 2012

Srinagar bear burning video goes viral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Head to mass animal adoption event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entry: Rs. 50

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Dog show faces animal board hurdle

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

Friday, 16 November 2012

Diwali 2012: Animals panic as noise grips Coimbatore

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

Monday, 12 November 2012

Travel permit denial gives Kerala elephants Maha relief

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

Animal welfare bodies left with dogs from hospitals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Civic body scraps dog shelter plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 5 November 2012

'Man-animal conflict result of human actions alone'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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