Monday, 14 January 2013

Bihar grants permission to kill rampaging neelgais

PATNA: Upset with the rampaging neelgai (blue bull) devastating the crop fields, just pick the licensed gun and shoot the animal down. It's now official.

In bid to ward off the increasing menace of neelgai damaging the standing crops in certain parts of Bihar, the Bihar State Wildlife Boardhas decided to give this permission to the affected farmers who have licensed arms. The matter came up at the meeting of the board, chaired by chief minister Nitish Kumar.

The board, showing its concern over the growing menace and damage of hectares of crops, took this decision. Permission will be granted in those areas where the problem has become quite serious.

Under the provision, the farmers who will kill neelgai will also be compensated with the cost of the cartridges fired to kill neelgai at the rate of Rs 500 per cartridge and also Rs 1,000 for the burial of the animal, said forest and environment department secretary Deepak Kumar Singh. "This permission has been given to protect the standing crops and scare away the animals," Singh said. The recommendations of the board will be sent to the cabinet for approval.

Singh was however, not very sure if the farmers would be able to shoot down neelgai since this animal of antelope family runs very fast. He recalled that a few months back a neelgai entered the Gaya airport but despite free permission it could not be killed.

The board has also decided to enhance the compensation for death and injury to human beings due to wild animals' attack as well as for the loss of crops. The compensation for death due to attack by wild animals has been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. The decision was taken in the light of the central government enhancing the compensation.

However, during the past few years very few incidents of such deaths have been reported.

Similarly, in the wake of serious and simple injury, damage to pucca or clay house and also the damage to standing crops by the wild animals the compensation amount will be increased as compared to the prevalent rates, as per the decision of the meeting.

The meeting also decided to constitute committees under the DMs to check the damage of the standing crop on large scale by the neelgai. The committees will have forest divisional officers, district agriculture officers, district animal husbandry officers and all the divisional officers as members. The committees will evaluate the damage of the standing crops by the wild animals particularly neelgai and look into the complaints by the affected farmers.

The wildlife board was of the opinion that the skills and services of several sub-castes like snake charmers, madari, kalandar and others which depend on their traditional profession to eke out a living should be utilized in some other areas so that their dependency on the traditional professions could be minimized.

It was directed that a survey of these social groups should be conducted in bid to utilize their services in wildlife protection and link them with alternative profession and rehabilitate them.

Glass-coated manjha proves deadly for birds

JAIPUR: Clear skies, mild weather and a holiday may be perfect for people to take to flying kites but it proved fatal for the winged creatures.

With each and every passing hour on Sunday, the casualty for birds increased despite animal rights activists working hard to minimize the death toll. During Makar Sankranti, people fly kites by the thousands. Unfortunately, they use glass-coated thread (manjha) to fly the kites and birds get entangled leading to cuts, damaged wings and nerve injuries. The animal activists are leaving no stone unturned to help the injured birds during this period.

Figures coming in from different animal right groups said nearly 80 casualties were reported. These groups have received around 200 calls seeking help for birds during the day mostly from the Walled City and other densely populated areas. Makeshift hospitals and camps are set up at Raja Park, Ramnivas Garden, Amrapali Circle and Gopalpura to treat the birds. The volunteers include veterinary doctors, students, professionals and general public.

These groups have been distributing their helpline numbers to reach out to people so that any bird casualty can be reported. Dr Vikas Sharma, veterinarian and head of Environment and Wildlife Care Society (EWCS) said, "We appeal to the people not to fly kites with glass-coated manja. And if they do, at least keep the helpline numbers handy so that our volunteers can reach out to the affected birds."

Among the injured reported on Sunday were peacocks, eagles, parrots, parakeets and many pigeons. Sahil Singhal, secretary of the People for Animals, said, "As the awareness on the helpline numbers and camps are rising, the calls are increasing and so do the casualties."

A maximum number of injured birds died due to lack of proper medical facilities. People overlook the injured birds as they do not have proper knowledge about the treatment. The groups also appealed to the callers that they should monitor the injured bird till the volunteers come as in most cases birds either become prey to dogs or disappears.

The loud music from the past two days is also causing severe problem to birds and animals. Most birds and animals, especially dogs and cats, are highly sensitive to sound. "Any loud sound becomes unbearable for them especially during morning and evening hours. Many birds lost track of their habitat due to the music," Sharma added.

Tigress slain, shooter sobs

Nagpur, Jan. 12: A tigress that killed five women in less than a month in Maharashtra was put down this afternoon but the commando who pulled the trigger later cried in a poignant footnote to a mysterious conflict.
“It was such a majestic tigress,” Suresh Atram, a commando of the elite C-60 anti-Naxalite force, said over phone. “I feel like I’ve committed a sin,” added Atram, a tribal.

The forest officials were surprised that it was a full-grown tigress about four years old. Through the week-long hunt, the officials and independent experts had assumed the animal was a sub-adult that probably could not hunt from the way it was selectively killing human beings, all of them frail-looking women.

The experts will now have to try to find answers for the tigress’s weird behaviour.
Its victims were women from villages near the Navegaon reserve forest in Gondia district — one was killed in the protected area — where a tiger has not been spotted in years. The tigress was shot near Sonjhari Malda village, about 25km from the Navegaon forest and 150km from Nagpur.

“I am extremely sad that I had to kill a tiger as part of my duty,” said Atram, who has served for many years in the strife-torn Gadchiroli district but was handpicked for this assignment. He heads the C-60 unit in nearby Bhandara.
An ardent devotee of Sai Baba of Shirdi, Atram said he could not stop himself from crying after killing the animal. “We tried our best to tranquillise it but could not.”

The commando said he had to open fire when the beast came charging at them. “It had come so close that there was no option left,” Atram said. On January 4, after the tigress had killed its fifth victim, orders were issued to shoot it if it could not be captured. Ten teams were then formed to track it down and anti-Naxalite commandos inducted.

“It dodged three to four tranquilliser darts,” wildlife conservationist Sawan Bahekar said over phone. Then the commandos fired three to four bullets, but it escaped unhurt. A shot that the officials said Atram fired from an AK-47 rifle hours later finally brought the tigress down.

Villagers had spotted the tigress on Thursday after it killed a calf and dragged its carcass into the shrubs. This morning, its image was captured in a camera trap mounted near the kill.

The tigress returned to its kill around 9am, Bahekar said. After a four-hour effort, when the tigress charged at a machaan (platform)the commando pulled the trigger.

“She was 20 metres from us,” Bahekar said. The first shot hit the cat. Eight more rounds were fired by two commandos.“Each one of us was in tears,” Bahekar said. It was not something they would be proud of.

42 pigs rescued in daring night chase

MAPUSA: About 42 pigs being illegally transported to Goa from Belgaum in a pickup were rescued near Mapusa by two animal welfare activists in a daring mission at 1.30am on Thursday.
Having received a tip-off, John Fernandes and Mahadev Mestri of the Animal Rescue Squad set off on a motorbike for the 'Goa-Mumbai' NH 17, looking for a Karnataka-registered vehicle.
Near Hotel Green Park they saw the pickup heading towards Panaji and heard the grunting of pigs. Following the vehicle, they got it to stop by stopping their own motorbike right in front of it.
"We asked the driver for the permit to transport the pigs. He didn't have one and instead offered us a bribe," claimed Fernandes.
The duo called the police who arrested the driver and the two helpers-all Karnataka natives-and rescued the pigs. Sources said the pigs were headed to a slaughterhouse in Saligao.
Describing the "horrid" conditions under which the pigs were being transported, Fernandes said, "The pickup was divided into two sections and the upper section alone had 25 pigs. The condition was unhygienic and so crammed that one pig had died during the journey."
He stressed that the law does not permit the carrying of so many pigs in such constrained conditions.
Police sources corroborated this, saying the transportation was in violation of provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978, and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"The law requires that those transporting pigs should have a licence to do so. It is also illegal to transport pigs in a vehicle that has not been properly constructed to carry them," an animal activist later explained.
The arrested trio are under police custody.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Animal-attack spots to be identified

MALAPPURAM: As man-animal conflicts occur on a more or less regular basis at areas bordering forests across the state, Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) plans to identify locations that are vulnerable to attacks of wild animals.
The special research group of the institute will study the types of animals which are straying into human habitations, the nature of attacks, the human loss, cattle loss and crop loss in attacks, the specifications of the locations, the elements that are attracting animals into the particular areas, including the availability of water and the nature of crops in the region. The study would be conducted with the help of the official records and field study on the incidents of man-animal conflicts occurred across the state during the last ten years.
The study will help to identify the issues of each region and to plan the preventive measures exclusively for each location. Dr E A James, scientist, Wild Life Department, KFRI, who is heading the study team said that the majority of the issues were local ones and they could not deal all the issues on the basis of same parameteres.
The team will collect details of each incident from public and also from the officials. "We need location oriented data. The issues in Wayanad are different from the issues in Idukki or Thrissur. We have to identify the real reason behind each issue," he said.
In the beginning, the research group will collect the details of the incidents of straying of wild animals into the human habitation included in the records of forest department for the last ten years and also collect information directly from public of each panchayat in these districts.
The research group has already started the study in Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram districts. In Thrissur, the team has found that 32 incidents of attacks of wild elephants have been reported in the district during last three years. Wild boars also pose a major threat to the farm lands in the district. The research group has also looking at effective methods to prevent animals straying into human habitations.

“Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act will be amended to give more teeth”

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act will be amended to make its provisions more stringent, said Jayanthi Natarajan, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest, at the golden jubilee celebration of the Animal Welfare Board of India here on Saturday.
She said the government would take steps to pass the amended act before the budget session of the parliament. Otherwise an ordinance would be passed in this regard, she assured the animal welfare organisations at the two-day seminar.

Compassion was the integral part of a civilised society but sadly man-animal conflict was on the rise. In Jammu and Kashmir, a bear, that strayed into human habitation was burnt alive by a group of people. They clapped their hands and enjoyed the death of the animal. Similarly in Kerala, an old tiger was killed by officials despite the fact that it was too weak to kill its prey. In both the cases the Minister said she had sent strong letters to the Chief Ministers concerned condemning the attitude of the people and the officials towards the animals. The Ministry would not tolerate such acts of cruelty. The Ministry would deregister laboratories if they violated the norms with regard to use of animals for experimentation, she said.

Talking about the appointment of animal welfare officers in every police station to curb cruelty to animals, she lamented that none of the states showed any interest, despite the fact that the officers were sponsored by the Animal Welfare Board of India. A total of 2,900 recognised animal welfare organisations were receiving financial grants from the Board. Now the Board is planning to rope in corporate sector to provide financial support to take up certain animal welfare activities, she added. 

Governor K. Rosaiah said the animals had made immense contribution from time immemorial for the welfare of humans. “In India we have a rich tradition of ahimsa and non violence towards all creatures. Man’s survival on this planet depends on maintaining the delicate balance in the co-existence of man and animal. We worship nature and festivals also remind us to show our gratitude to the animals.” Indian Overseas Bank Chairman and Managing Director Narendra, Animal Welfare Board of India Chairman retired major general R.M. Kharb and Vice-Chairman AWBI S. Chinni Krishna were among those who spoke.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

India likely to impose blanket ban on testing cosmetics on animals

NEW DELHI: India in a landmark move is planning to impose a blanket ban on testing cosmetics on animals. 

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BSI) is revising the standard IS 4011 — the method of safety testing for cosmetics. 

Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) Dr G N Singh told TOI that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is examining the feasibility of banning animal testing of cosmetics. 

Dr Singh met MP and animal activist Maneka Gandhi last week to discuss the legislation. Dr Singh said, "Several developed countries have put in rules that ban testing cosmetics on animals. We are thoroughly examining them. We don't want to be cruel to animals. If other countries don't allow it, we will also ban animal testing of cosmetics. The decision will follow a through examination and a strong scientific examination." 

Gandhi has sent a letter to the DCGI giving scientific evidence supporting a ban on animal testing. 

The letter, written on December 18, said, "on a priority, we as a nation need to go cruelty free as far as testing cosmetics are concerned." 

Gandhi said that the European Union (EU) has with the 7th amendment of the cosmetic directive prohibited testing of finished cosmetic products from September, 2004. She also cited that testing cosmetics on animals has also not been required by the US FDA. In spite of this, the BIS standards' draft includes two painful tests on animals. 

"Again the testing and marketing ban on ingredients came into force on March, 2009, in the EU for all human health effects with the exception of three animal tests - repeated dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and texicokinetics. For these specific health effects the marketing ban will also apply from March 11, 2013, irrespective of the availability of alternative non-animal tests. Hence, testing on animals has become completely illegal in the EU for cosmetics," the letter said. 

Gandhi said this is undoubtedly going to affect the country, given the large export market of Indian herbal cosmetics to the EU. 

The letter added, "It is important that India acts. Harmonization of India's regulation with that of Europe's cosmetics regulation will ensure an immediate upgrade of India's safety standards in cosmetics testing using non-animal methods." 

Gandhi said the DCGI has the power to amend rule 150-A in the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, "and the easiest way would be that you amend it to be harmonized with EU cosmetics legislation of November 30, 2009". 

The Union health ministry has made it mandatory for the registration of all cosmetics ranging from skin care and hair care products that are imported from April 1, 2013. 

The requirement was originally planned to come into force from October 1, 2012. 

Dr Singh said, "If animal testing of cosmetics isn't mandatory by either the US FDA or the EU, it seems unnecessary for India to have them at all." 

The DCGI is setting up a separate cell to monitor important and distribution of the cosmetic industry. 

As per the guidelines, each cosmetic category-like lipstick, mascara, tooth pastes and soaps will carry a registration fee of $250. 

A violation of the rules will result in both penalty in the form of fines and jail term. 

Around 61% of the dermatological market in India consists of skin lightening products. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently warned that the serious adverse effects of inorganic mercury, which is a common ingredient found in skin lightening soaps and creams, includes kidney damage, reduction in the skin's resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression or psychosis and also peripheral neuropathy. 

The global health watchdog pointed out that mercury in soaps and creams is eventually discharged into wastewater. The mercury, then, enters environment, where it becomes methylated, and enters the food chain as highly toxic methylmercury in fish. Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses that can later result in neurological deficits in children. 

WHO said skin-lightening soaps and creams are commonly used Asian nations. 

"Some manufacturers are no longer using mercury as a preservative in mascara and eye makeup cleansing products as a result of consumer pressure. However, most jurisdictions still allow the sale of makeup products containing mercury compounds. The soaps contain approximately 1%-3% mercury iodide, and the creams are composed of 1%-10% mercury ammonium," WHO said.