Blog

FIAPO and the Tale of the Cat-astrophic Science Experiment for Young School Children!

It is only recently, that I have started working in the animal protection domain, but the work I do and the impact it creates often leaves me spell-bound. Sometimes, things that spell ‘cruelty’, might seem small and we may even miss them but the impact they could have on those around us something to be extremely weary off.

Recently, I came across one such incident where an environmental studies textbook was asking students to conduct a fatal experiment on cats. Imagine, asking children as young as 9 to suffocate a kitten on the pretext of an experiment to understand the importance of breathing! while, animal rights activists, parents, media and even celebrities, unanimously roared with dissent, my biggest concern was how can we get this removed as soon as possible and how come people had failed to notice it?

Naturally, I too was appalled at the situation and immediately reached out to my fellow animal rights activists to seek their guidance on what can be done. We had to take some action and fast! So, we reached out to the publication house- PP Publications to remove the illegal (and unethical) content advocating for the cruel experiment on kittens.

With the exchange of a few phone calls and emails with the publishing house, we guided them on the laws of the land around animal rights and why the content shared was unlawful (and not to mention, utterly unethical!). We informed them on how killing of an animal is illegal and being cruel to animals is and as defined under Section 11 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Cruelty or killing is a cognizable offence under Section 428 and Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code.

After waiting for what seemed like days and many more discussions later, the publication agreed to the absurdity and apologised for the misleading content with a written regret, committing to the following:

  • Immediate withdrawal of the publication from the distributors
  • To not sell from the existing stock
  • Not reprint the same content for the next academic year
  • To be mindful of things published about animals, especially something unethical and illegal and be regardful of people’s sentiments

You can read the full letter here (http://www.fiapo.org/newsandevents/letter-from-p-p-publications)

As a part of the unanimous voice for animal rights in India, I believe in the sanctity of respecting all life forms, and strongly believe that the seeds of compassion be planted in young minds, early on in childhood. Hence, with utter humility, I request all you parents, teachers, institutions, corporates and everybody else, to please be mindful of any such discrepancies in our educational bodies, immediately take action against anyone violating the laws and spread awareness about the same to your friends, family and network, so that situations likes these can be avoided in future. Remember, it is the moral duty of each one of us to stand up and speak against what we believe is wrong. While, things may look too straitjacketed or difficult to change, we still must fight for what we believe in!

You can visit www.fileanfir.fiapo.org for more information on the animal protection laws of India.

At the end, I’d like to close with my favourite quote-

“Compassion is the basis of morality.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer

 


State-wide Dairy Investigation Reveals Unparalleled Cruelty to Cattle

Jaipur (27th June, 16) :In the most unabashed and radical revelation of the facts about the state’s treatment of its holy cow, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) released an investigative report today, which shows the inhumane and torturous conditions in which cattle are kept in dairies across the state for milk production.

The report was released to statewide media on Monday by Dr. D.R. Mehta, Founder Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti(BMVSS) and a Trustee of FIAPO and by Mrs. Timmie Kumar, Ambassador, FIAPO.

FIAPO’s investigation in 49 dairies across four cities of Rajasthan revealed the indiscriminate use of banned and illegal drugs such as Oxytocin for increasing and releasing unnatural quantities of milk; lack of basic infrastructure, food and veterinary care for cattle as well as illegal sale of calves for slaughter.

It further reported that only 57% of cattle owners call for veterinary assistance only in the event of a fall in production of milk, and not for addressing any animal health concerns like wounds, , fractures or infections. A staggering 87% of cattle are kept tied all the time in unhealthy and unhygienic conditions in a dairy, covered in their own excreta, and often suffering from injuries and fractures. These findings are in outright violation of existent laws, guidelines and rules meant for the protection of animal interests.

Says Timmie Kumar, “Rajasthan is a prosperous state and we have always been shown images of happy cows on dairy products. But going by the facts revealed from our investigation that image is nothing but a façade to a lifetime of abuse and exploitation. As citizens of Vibrant Rajasthan, we really need to improve our treatment of the cattle to at least be acceptable and humane”.

D.R Mehta appealed to the government to take immediate action. “This calls for an urgent and strict implementation of the existing laws of animal welfare and addition of better rules in areas that are not covered by the existing laws. We have formulated a Dairy Code, which should be used as the guiding document to impose minimum standards for humane treatment of dairy cattle. The inclusion of dairy businesses as major food production establishments and their regulation under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 will also improve the standards used for the process of milking. Our report and letter has been shared with the Ministry of Agriculture with an appeal to act immediately to take action against dairies violating laws and ensure minimum standards of welfare among cattle”


The Vermin Annihilation- Is Culling the Answer or the Question?

13394114_1321419347887229_7982932629955776437_n

Story So Far-

A couple of months ago, The Ministry of environment, forests and climate change asked the states to submit applications for declaring species as vermin; species that were causing harm to crops, property or human life. States have since put to use multiple sections under the Wildlife Protection Act and allowed culling of select species. A campaign has been in place since few months; letters sent, RTIs filed, articles published, matter taken to court and discussions held. The recent killing in Bihar and subsequent media coverage have not only highlighted the issue but also raised further questions.

Underlying Question-

Are the farmers asking for culling? While the intensity and nature of this conflict varies from landscape to landscape the bottom line is that the famers are suffering from damage caused by wildlife. However, these farmers are asking for a solution to the problem and not for culling. As no other alternatives have been put forth, the easiest option today appears to be to cull. The decision makers and influencers (including conservationists and researchers) have failed to come up with policy issues to address the conflict in the long run and suggest models that could be tried out as pilots in the short run. Conservation organizations have been largely silent on the issue. Is it unwillingness to take a stand on a complicated topic or case of having other priorities or lack of sufficient awareness on the issue? A member of Bihar State Board for Wildlife stated how the state government had written to large conservation organizations for assistance on the topic couple of years ago. Each of these organizations that receive major chunk of their funding for tiger, and other charismatic species, had either raised their proverbial hands and expressed inability to act then or not replied on this issue of herbivores conflict; an issue that today has resulted in culling of large number of tiger prey. Lack of research on the topic is overt; research that feeds into policy and helps shape future actions as opposed to research that results in publications or fuels academic debates at conferences.

The Hunters enter the Picture-

Is this driven by the hunter lobby? How is it that a group of ‘happy to pose with guns’ people gallivant across the country, hunt animals, and then proclaim to be conservationists? That they are well connected with those in power is apparent from the fact that they have been invited from as far as Hyderabad to Shivpuri; the district with one of the highest gun licenses in the country. In Maharashtra – where culling is allowed in select districts – the killings by this group stopped after the chief wildlife warden publicly expressed his disagreement and displeasure in the manner in which they were taking place. In Telangana – where hunting has been permitted across the state – a list of people sanctioned to shoot is in place and the forest department staffs have been directed to assist them (stay in forest guest houses and local transport). Most of these people are members of the Indian Rifles Association and at-least one also an accused in a hunting case in the state. They also tried to bribe the lawyer representing the individual who had filed the PIL against the government order!

Are we saying that wildlife needs to be confined to protected areas and reserve forests? Protected areas which themselves have not been drawn based on conservation needs and reserve forests – large chunks of which have been either degraded or severely damaged by development infrastructure or have simply disappeared. To add fuel to the fire we continue to lose our common lands to market forces and make major changes to our cropping patterns; both of which further shrink the available habitat for wildlife in village lands. Our actions have ensured that carnivores like jackals and wolves that were not uncommon even two decades ago are today missing from our village lands, and we now want to use the pretext of their absence (lack of natural population control measures!) to remove the herbivores from these landscapes!

Qualification of ‘Vermin’ as Per Our Policies

A species can be declared vermin under section 62 of the wildlife protection act; in other words the species moves to schedule 5 of the act and loses protection.

What is the process that is to be followed before a species is declared vermin thus?

Can a state send a request to the centre based on few applications it receives or is it mandatory for the state to have carried out surveys and consultations to understand the situation? Should the state try out mitigation measures before writing to the Centre? Replies to RTI applications, on the topic, have brought forth that most the states have neither taken up any survey prior to sending request to Centre and nor do they have in place a strategy document to address the human wildlife conflict. The Goa Forest Minister is on record stating that they have taken up surveys and based on the findings will send a request to the Centre for declaring species vermin. RTI reply from the state talks otherwise. This is the very minister who had earlier stated that peacock and gaur will be declared vermin in the state!

Where does this culling stop?

The permitted culling of the number of species may soon make their way to this existing list. In context of the recent killing in Bihar, is there a thresh hold after which we say that the conflict is now at an acceptable level? In other words do we want to understand and remove the problem or do we want to remove the species? For this do we also need to be aware to the numbers (close approximations) of these species in different landscapes?

The situation is complex and one that warrants time and attention from multiple stake holders. There are no solutions available that could be placed in bullet points; if they were we would not be reading this today. This could be the last opportunity we have to move beyond our comfort and ego zones and get our acts together for landscape based wildlife conservation or the first step to reducing our protected areas to enlarged glorified zoos.

 

————————————–

This is a post by Nimesh Ved, who works with FIAPO on the #NotVermin campaign. The story was posted on scroll, you can check that out here: http://scroll.in/article/809865/the-debate-over-the-culling-of-wildlife-in-india-requires-more-than-just-sound-and-fury

Check out Nimesh’s blog at  http://nimesh-ved.blogspot.in/


Bloodsport,not culture|Jallikattu

“The tendency to turn human judgements into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.”

Georgia Harkness

Hoards of spectators huddle together, with expectant eyes and yearning hearts – there’s a taste of celebration in the air – in an uproar of festivities, an infuriated bull is unleashed – visibly agonized, he tries to run amuck – and is madly chased by villagers, trying to hold on to its horns for as long as possible. In this ‘sport’ of bull-taming he’s is punched, jumped on, goaded, poked and dragged to the ground.
Bloodshed on both sides in inevitable.

A 4000 year old bloodsport, Jallikattu perpetuates violence in the guise of tradition.

Although there is a national ban in India against using bulls in entertainment, the state government chooses to turn a blind eye to national law and instead clings to the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act No. 27 of 2009, a state law permitting Jallikattu. While promising the enforcements of regulations, the Act looks at piecemeal changes such as ensuring barricading and limiting numbers. Thus, the cruelty that is inherent in Jallikattu, has no solution, other than a blanket ban on the practice.

Recently, Catalonia become Spain’s first mainland region to ban the centuries-old bullfighting. The Parliament of Catalonia voted against the traditional sport following a petition signed by thousands of people who say the practice is barbaric, outdated and cruelty to animals.

The populace of India is already against such archaic and barbaric ‘bull taming’ sports. If Catalonia can ban bull fighting, so can we. Culture and tradition in itself are changing entities, let them evolve to cater to the needs of the hour.


New beginnings in Varanasi…

For over a year now, FIAPO has been running an intensive rescue and first-aid programme in Varanasi. The programme created a community that relies on the compassion and activism of the individuals of Varanasi, who in time, are creating a strong movement for animal protection.

Today, the programme has expanded beyond the Ghats, and the seeds that were sown the year round, are now bearing fruit. Here are a few stories of Varanasi leaders who’ve stepped up to protect animals

Dr. Soumya, Benares Hindu University: A doctor by profession, Soumya was always keen on helping animals.  Ever since she met with the FIAPO team in Varanasi, she’s started pursuing fir1st-aid with greater gusto! She now spares time thrice a week carrying out First-aid at the Benares Hindu University. She is supported by her ardent volunteers who are steadily growing in number! While she teaches at BHU- she extends her help to the animals close to her home, at Sundarpur, Varanasi too!

Swati and Smita, Sikrol (Cantt Area): Forming quite the power team, Swati and Smita help all animals in every way possible. The duo have also started their own organisation in Varanasi that goes by the name of RAHAT. Apart from first –aid, rescue and community mobilisation near the Cantt area, they also provide food for animals at the Sarnath Zoo close by. While understanding the short term needs of animals, they also believe that for a truly successful movement, awareness is key- and spend considerable time reaching out to the public with2 a message of kindness and compassion.

Dr. Mangesh, Rath Yatra Road:  A doctor and an avid animal lover, Dr. Mangesh has since long been involved in first aid for animals. He now ensures that each Sunday is a day to practice first aid and follows through on all cases he encounters. His recent success story is that of an accident case in which the dog was run hit by a car. After providing basic first aid, he ensured proper care and consultation by taking the dog to the Veterinary Government Hospital. The pooch is now in recovery and is showing wonderful progress!

While these new developments take place, our ongoing work at the Ghats continues – thanks to Amit, our first-aid expert, and Pushparag – a professional energy therapist. Their regular work at the Ghats ensures that the dogs there lead happy, healthy lives!

 


Animals should not be considered property, and should not be “owned”

By Prashanth V. 

baby_asian_elephant_playing_in_pool_by_damselstock-d6bgme9

Far from natural habitats, elephants in confinement are often tied all the time, with little access to food or water.

Picture a herd of elephants. There’s a young one, with naughty eyes, surrounded by the rest of the family – mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins. Elephants are very intelligent and perceptive. They are usually peace-loving, gentle creatures.

Though most of their numbers have been decimated by the brutal ivory trade, they have also been depleted by their capture for use as pack animals and circus performers. In captivity they are traditionally chained at all times, or controlled by the vicious ‘ankur’, whose spikes are delivered as blows to punish and control these giant and desperate victims.

Can you imagine being cooped up in a tiny room, with barely enough room to sit without your head bumping the roof? Can you imagine being fed dry, stale food and little water? This is the life of circus elephants round the clock. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there for animals that are kept captive in circuses. They must learn and perform complicated actions that are designed to amuse us. They must do a variety of things they would never do in the wild, on punishment of the ankur. All so that we can stand up, clap, point and smile.

What gives us the right to exploit other creatures like this?

We humans boast of our great intelligence. We have built ourselves cities, and armed ourselves with technology. And yet, it seems that we cannot grasp this simple concept that animals do not belong to us, and never will.

What we should be doing is ensuring that they are cared for, in their natural habitats. As the so-called smartest species on the planet, we should know better than to do what we do to them. These animals never consented to living their lives out as puppets in circuses and they never had a choice. We never stopped for a moment to think about how unnatural it was to see a lion jump through a ring of fire. How did he learn to do that? He certainly didn’t understand what the trainer wanted him to do right away, did he? Think about how many times he must have failed. Think about all the punishments and suffering that must have taken place for him to get the message and that he had to leap through the ring of fire. Missed meals, injuries, terror and incredible mental stress don’t even begin to cover it.

Please don’t encourage animal abuse, anywhere. Remember, they feel pain just like we do, and we have no right to inflict pain and suffering on animals.

Circuses are happy places for us. Let’s strive to make them happy places for animals too by making sure they are very far away from the stage.

 


Infocus: Welfare for Animals in Goa (W.A.G)

Welfare for Animals in Goa (W.A.G) has been active in street animal welfare since July 2012. The organization is a registered trust and mainly works mainly in North Goa.

W.A.G was set up by a team of three driven individuals- Atul, Dev and Stephanie- with many years of experience in animal welfare. Their initial focus was on adoption and feeding of street animals, including cattle. Presently, volunteers of the organization regularly visit remote areas with food and medicines to make sure the WAG dogs are fed and given treatment. The team identifies packs of dogs and gives them each a tag which makes them easy to identify, feed, and keep track of. Many of the beach animals depend solely on the WAG team to get through the monsoon season, when most of the beaches are devoid of people who care for them.

WAG’s shelter houses cattle, dogs and cats which are victims of cruelty and are undergoing treatment. Like most shelters, dealing with the steady stream of puppies and other animals (sometimes thrown into the shelter) is a challenge. Founder member Atul says “it is important to sterilize all pet animals because overpopulation and abandonment of animals is really a man-made problem, and we need to address it ourselves until governments pitch in” while cuddling Patches, a pup who is being nursed back to health.

In addition to rescue work, WAG has this week, opened its new surgery with a full time vet Dr Upendra Kumar. In addition to treating stray and injured animals, the surgery will offer free services to those Pet owners who can’t afford to spend on treatment of their animals. WAG also plans to carry out 30 Sterilizations a month in its new facility.

The organization also administers the Pet Life Page on facebook, a huge success in connecting pet parents and animal protection groups in Goa

Get involved in their work, know more here-

http://www.wagoa.com/index.html


Infocus: PAWS Thrissur

“The world does not belong to us. We have just been given a space to live in. We need to learn to share this space with other living creatures as well” –With this mission, PAWS Thrissur was registered as a charitable trust in June 2012. They are one of the very few animal welfare organisations in Kerala striving to end the ill treatment of animals in God’s own country.

One of the first problems that they chose to address was animals- especially dogs that were injured in road accidents. Within a few months they were presented an Omni ambulance by the Canine club of Thrissur, for rescue work.

The next major problem was the number of abandoned pets.  PAWS got regular calls from Thrissur district and outside regarding abandoned pedigree animals. Most of these dogs were ill with skin problems or tumors and would not have needed elaborate treatment if they had been treated in the initial stages.

“Foster homes are not a common phenomenon in Thrissur, and therefore we needed a place to house the animals till they were better and re-home able.  Adverts were given out in the local papers asking for people to come forward to either foster or adopt. Meanwhile a multi pronged strategy was attempted to get the animals new homes” says Preethi Srivalsan, founder PAWS Thrissur about the challenges of finding permanent homes for abandoned animals.

PAWS has also been conducting classes to bring about greater awareness among school children.  A rabies vaccination camp was held in Avanoor grama panchayat.  A proposal has also been submitted to the corporation and panchayats offering to conduct ABC programmes in and around Thrissur and they are awaiting response.

The increasing number of stray bulls and cows in Thrissur city has been causing a threat to public safety. There was an incident where a bull injured a few people. PAWS got sanction to capture the said bull and keep it. Unfortunately, it died a few days later and the post mortem report revealed large amounts of plastic inside. They have requested the corporation to provide land where they are willing to keep and look after the stray cattle and keep them off the streets, safe from the attack of butchers. PAWS is now involved in intervening trucks overloaded with cattle being brought for slaughter from Andhra and Tamil Nadu.

Please visit http://pawsthrissur.com to know more and support their work.


Why we need Leadership TODAY!

no border no white

Great social movements have all been propelled by grassroots activism.  A successful uprising is defined by how many cities it happens in and how many people gathered in support of it – it defines our urgent need to do away with an ill in the society.

Grassroots action is also the way to go to really reach out to all animals.
It is local groups alone who have the best potential to educate the public where there is ignorance, reveal local cases of animal cruelty behind the door, and rescue animals when they are most in need!

Leadership development to help animals at the local level is extremely important, as stronger belief, community support, and continuous action will all go a long way in forming the ideologies of generations to come.

The Leadership Development Programme is meant to inspire change.

Right from an ideological standpoint to see what is the status of  the revolution the world over, to skill building like ‘how to be an effective advocate for animals, how to plan an event’ , to organizational growth needs such as ‘how to build and motivate volunteers, manage finances ‘ etc… the leadership development programme will help you grow in all directions.

And it is only after realizing and reaching our true potential- can we truly offer our best to the animals we so love.

So come up and join the Leadership Development Programme and become an effective advocate for animals today! Apply by clicking here. 


The Beef Ban : A Reality check

5249046979_64a3c361b1_z

‘Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul’, said Pythagoras, an avid vegetarian; and while not much is known about Leonardo Da Vinci, his love for animals is well documented. Right from the epochs of Voltaire, Gautam Buddha and Plato to the more recent times of Leo Tolstoy, Mary Shelley (whose famous monster Frankenstein was also vegetarian) Franz Kafka, George Bernard Shaw, and of course Gandhi; vegetarianism has been followed and practised as a way of life that furthers civility and non-violence.

It is astonishing then, that the passing centuries have done little to aid the widespread acceptance of vegetarianism.  What is even more surprising is that a left-liberal/liberal audience,  our ideal  ‘target audience’, is the largest voice in dismissing the recent ban on beef in Maharashtra, under the ostensible guises of politics, religion, economy, health and moral superiority.

Amongst the mad spectacle of outrage that ensued the Beef Ban, some facts seem to have been missed. To begin with, there is ‘nothing new’ about a beef ban in India.States like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and even Jammu & Kashmir have a blanket ban of any type of bovine slaughter.[1]

With regards to Maharashtra, the ban on the slaughter of cows has been in existence since 1976, the only additions from the amendment are the cessation of slaughter on ‘bull and bullocks’, and an increase in fine payable in case of possession. The amendment still allows for buffaloes to be slaughtered, even though, purely from an animal rights perspective, they are as abused, neglected and tortured as the cows. Therefore, the real changes in terms of practical implications from this ‘ban’ are very much debatable.

One of the more nuanced insights out of the ban is that currently the gap between an understanding of human and animal rights is very wide.  Animal rights are largely a matter kept out of civil society dialogue, and we’ve not managed to shake our position for some time now – we are still on the periphery of the periphery. The need to bring about an understanding and discourse of ‘speciesism’ to popular culture alongside other ills such as racism, sexism and casteism seems to be the need of the hour.

The second insight that can be traced is the need for a strategy that shifts from one that is ‘anthropocentric’ (the belief that human beings are the most significant species on this planet) to something more holistic in nature. An anthropocentric philosophy puts animal rights as a supplementary benefit to a different primary benefit. As an example, it may say that we should stop the consumption of meat for reasons of health and the environment. (Or, as is being stated here, for religious and political reasons)  This methodology is a flawed one because long term change from an animal rights perspective is only possible through an understanding of the needs that benefit animals, and not other humans, as other changes may be easily reversed. (The chances of a person consuming organic meat are extremely high if the path of veganism/vegetarianism has been chosen solely for environmental reasons.)

Thus, let this ban and the debate around it be a good wakeup call to the Indian Animal Community to steer towards a movement that is popular, that demands animal rights and does not apologise for them, and that talks about animal protection for the benefit of the animals and not human beings. Let us move towards a stronger animal rights protection lobby and a stronger popular voice.

[1] For a detailed look at the laws regarding cattle slaughter in India, look here :- http://www.dahd.nic.in/dahd/reports/report-of-the-national-commission-on-cattle/chapter-ii-executive-summary/annex-ii-8.aspx