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THE  RIGHTS  OF  OUR ANIMAL  BRETHREN

JUSTICE  V.R.KRISHNA  IYER

From an early age, I have adjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men look upon the murder of animals as they look upon the murder of men. -Leonardo Da Vinci.

An issue of fundamental significance and universal relevance needs to be brought into the consciousness of the world community. Ecology and environment, life in every form and evolution, have certain harmony and intergrality that makes all creation kin. Spiritually speaking, the quintessence of the environmental movement, in its widest sweep, is that everything belongs to the supreme self and performs its karma with a functional nexus. In practical terms, there is a purpose for everything in Nature too sacred to be destroyed. Eknath Easwaran has exquisitely expressed this idea which I may excerpt here.

“Nobody has any right to pollute the air, water, or seas, to cut down forests, or to wash away the topsoil. We do not own the earth. We are just transients who have been entrusted to leave the earth a little better than we found it. This is everybody’s job; nobody is exempt from it and, in this sense, nobody is unemployed.”

“It follows that our environment crisis demands that every one of us play a useful part, in our own way, to improve the environment wherever we live. If a person fails to do that, even if he wins a prestigious prize, the Buddha would say, you haven’t done what you have to do.”

“When you have done what you have to do, you will feel very secure, very fulfilled. As you discover the self in your own heart, you discover it simultaneously everywhere, in the people and creatures around you. You will feel very much at home in this universe. You don’t need to take my word for it. Try it and see for your self ”. (“Your life is your message” by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, USA-p 92-93)

Ahimsa of Gandhi or “love thy neighbour” of Jesus proceed on the basic law of our being, the truth of our nature and our innate dignity. This a Davidic vision is the soul of our cultural heritage: and when we meditate with this unitive understanding, the mountains, the oceans , the forests and all living forms and inorganic things look divine. God (or call Him by whatever name you like) sleeps in the mineral, wakes in the vegetable, walks in the animal, thinks in man and reaches realization when the human ascent and the divine descent meet. If we are able to gain this vistaramic
perspective, peace on earth becomes an easy essay to achieve. In the words of Adlai Stevenson, the human race is a family: men are brothers: all wars are civil wars. Such a holistic perception, makes the whole world kin and promotes anew order alive with a sublime presence.

The U.N.Conference on Environment and Development and the Declaration made at Rio de Janeiro emanate from these spiritual depths. The order of Nature is it self a manifestation of this conceptual globalization. The time has come for the nations and peoples everywhere to adopt the order of Nature as the cornerstone of the New World Human Order.

The philosophy of the Order may be tersely expressed thus:

Nature is made up of an inanimate terrestrial, aerial and aquatic ensemble, on the one hand an animate vegetable, animal and human habitat, on the other hand.

The human species must consider itself an element of the terrestrial habitat and must respect co-existence and symbiosis. Any failure to respect these is an attack on nature, prejudicial to the whole ensemble of inanimate and animate beings.

‘The actions to be rewarded concern, in particular, the safeguarding of  the natural environment, the struggle against genocidal pollution, the safeguarding of the vegetable and animal species, animal protection, the teaching of the relations between humans and nonhumans, the fight against speciesism and more generally, all actions tending to render efficient the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Animals, the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Plants and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature which is drafted by Prof. Georges Heuse. The declarations and the order of Nature will stimulate the perception of the cosmic integral Unity in human species.

There is no international nor national order comparable to the Order of Nature; the existing orders regard human beings as humans, and not as members of the community of Nature. The Order of Nature will be considered as the first supranational Order and the first planetary model.’

This vedic vision of the Indian seers of ancient vintage is our proud heritage. The radiant of this world of harmony and non-violence must persuade all humanity to adopt what Prof. Heuse, President of the World Foundation of Quality of Life, has called the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature. Animal Welfare, plant culture, organic and inorganic chemistry of existence find fulfillment only when everyone is conscientised into acceptance of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature. This declaration was drafted by Prof. Georges Heuse (Belgium), President of the World Foundation for the Quality of Life (University of Ghent), author of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Animals (1972) and proclaimed on 15th October, 1978 at UNESCO. I advocate the adoption of this declaration by Bharat of the Buddha and Gandhi and inspire humanity world-wide to attain harmony with everything everywhere.

 Mobilise peoples’ compassion to activise animal welfare legislation

The universality of divinity is a fundamental faith of Indian humanity rooted in the Rig Veda and manifest in the spiritual core of all religions. “The ancients have stated that God sleeps in the mineral, awakens in the vegetable, walks in the animal and thinks in man”. The unity that runs thro’ Creation is thus a basic truth. Nature has thus an integral relation with animalia and homo sapiens is an in severable part of the evolutionary spiral, the highest peak of ecological ascent. The ecological and environmental preservation is vital for life to survive on earth. These great values are reflected in our constitution, a rare good fortune and a binding recognition. The State and the citizen are duty bound to promote and preserve ecology and environment as mandated by Articles 48A and 51A.

Justice to animal citizens is as basic to humanism as social justice is to an exploited people. You are no true Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Christion or Muslim if you do not accept the indivisible unity of Creation and the power of the invisible Creator. So it is that love of animals, in the widest connotation, is integral to the divine vision. Be you secular or spiritural ecological fundamentals compel us to a compassionate relationship with our sub human brethren. Here, indeed, is the starting point of the deeper awareness of the harmony of Nature, Karuna and Ahimsa as apart of our cultural heritage.

The philosophical perspective of Animal Welfare is thus part parcel of our cultural heritage. Every time cruelty is practiced on man or beast or bird or insect, we do violence to the Buddha and Mahavira. Every torture on an animal and every export of animals is a sin to the memory of the founders of Bharatiya Sanskar.

Rukmini Devi, that gracious lady who symbolized kindness to animals in her person, moved Jawaharlal Nehru to pass a legislation and thus we have today the Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. 

Laws are decorative pieces on the Statute Book unless there are powerful movements supportive of their provisions. The anatomy of the 1960 Act has powers and, functions and infrastructure and has the funding and control of the Government. Cruelty to animals is an offence and experimentation on animals is regulated but not abolished. Performing animal in circuses and otherwise for exhibition imply torture and so the Act has provisions for policing such performances and exhibitions with view to prevent cruelty. With all this and one or two later amendments, cruel practices are continuing in the land where the cow is sacred, compassion is a constitutional duty but torture some entertainment, bleeding , butchery, animal sacrifice and other forms of cruelty are still extant. Sans people’s movement, cruelty to animals will never, cease.

Now that the western winds are blowing and the consumerist craze is growing, there is anew peril to our animal brethren. For instance:

“The fur industry wages war on wildlife, the lucrative leather market bolsters the cattle industry, and wool comes from sheep who suffer unanaesthetized tooth grinding, tail cutting and unskilled shearing. Angora is made from the hair of rabbits bred for a fast –growing intensive confinement industry.

By choosing products made with canvas, cotton, nylon, acrylic and other materials, we can clothe ourselves beautifully without endorsing cruelty.

The more we realize that animals have real lives like our own, the more courage we have to inform others. Most people prefer not to be associated with animal suffering, but may not know the facts. Our silence must not contribute to their ignorance.”

 IS THERE A SOLUTION?

Governments must be pressurized to do the right thing lest India’s image and cultural heritage suffer severe damage. Let us not betray the generations from the Buddha to Gandhi. Our tryst with destiny, made when India awoke to Independence, included an imperative that the nation will wipe every tear from every eye’. This applies to our animal brethren, parrots, doves and other birds with broken wings to be sold as pets or for delicate dish, lions and tigers cramped and doped in small cages and even elephants and bears brutally treated to perform impossible feats. Let us begin the crusade for compassion and we must win because our case is just.


 
“DARWIN TAUGHT US NOT THAT ALL MEN WERE MONKEYS ONCE, BUT THAT SOME MONKEYS HAVE NO TAILS NOW.” –George Bernard Shaw.

(Excerpted from Random Reflections by Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer, Universal, ed. 2003.)

Courtesy: LAWYERS UPDATE-  JULY 2005

 

 

 

 

Disease and life
Disease is a fact of life. Ofcourse, the definition of disease depends on the point of view. To human beings, tuberculosis is a disease. But to the tubercle bacillus, human beings are a habitat and life source. Similarly, the earth is a habitat and life source for human beings. But to the earth, human habitation is a disease, and human beings are arch parasites. To the pristine earth, the coming of Homo sapiens signaled the onset of a chronic, global illness, the outcome of which is still in doubt.

 -From My Armchair :W.W. Armistead
[Dr. Willis W. Armistead of Knoxville, Tenn., a former American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) president, died April 18, 2006, at the age of 89. Retired in 1987 as emeritus vice president of the University of Tennessee, he was the founding dean of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and, before that, dean of the veterinary colleges at Texas A&M (1953-1957) and Michigan State (1957-1974) universities.]

 

 

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Editorial-Animal Crusaders July 2009 (quarterly newsletter-print version)

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WHO declares swine flu pandemic

11 Jun 2009, 2041 hrs IST, AGENCIES

GENEVA: The World Health Organization told its member nations it was declaring a swine flu pandemic on Thursday - the first global flu epidemic in 41 years - as infections climbed in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere.

In a statement sent to member countries, WHO said it decided to raise the pandemic warning level from phase 5 to 6 - its highest alert - after holding an emergency meeting on swine flu with its experts.

Paris: Discussions at the OIE meeting

June 14, 2009 : 3:16 AM

Egypt: Pigs still being killed

We have received two recent reports related to the killing of pigs in Egypt, as a consequence of the H1N1 epidemic. The first report indicates that significant discussions took place in Paris at the OIE meeting in May and that positive steps are being taken. However, it appears that pigs are still being killed, on the ground, in Egypt

[http://network.bestfriends.org/egypt/news/34742.html]

 

Contents of a speech given by Debasis Chakrabarti on 28.12.1999 at the Banga Sammelan -

conference on ‘Medicine In The Millennium’. Science City, Calcutta.

Subject: Zoonotic Diseases And The Indian Economy.

I have here, a collage of headlines. I will read out a few........

New York, February 28th, 1997 :

Pig virus can infect humans.

London, July 23rd, 1996:

Mad sheep scare sparks ban on offal in Britain.

London, Nov, 26th, 1996:

Mad cow disease may kill hundreds yearly-U.K.Study.

Gandhinagar, Aug 27th. 1997:

Rat-borne infection hits 16,000 in Gujarat.

Calcutta. April 26th, 1997 :

Doctors warn of dysentery from diseased fish.

Hong Kong, Jan 10th,1998 :

HK ducks infected by virus similar to chicken flu.

Tokyo, June 5th, 1999 :

Japan will monitor all milk, beef imports.

The Hague, Feb 18th, 1997 :

Swine fever scare hits Dutch officials.

Washington, Feb 10th, 1998:

Vaccine against deadly E. coli bacteria tested on volunteers.

London, June 5th, 1999:

Britain bans. Belgian Pork, eggs, beef and poultry.

And,

Americans want industry to team with NGOs

[Financial Express, Calcutta, December 27th, 1999]

 

With due apologies to the experts, it is my contention that far too little attention is paid to the root cause of zoonotic diseases and their effect upon the socio-economic progress of a society. Particularly in India, which is still very much a developing country, we can ill afford the enormous expenditure of curative medication, much of which needs to be imported. Curative medication is frequently beyond the reach of the overwhelming majority of the Indian population.

 

Not all the advances of science can replace basics. Large-scale slaughter of diseased ani­mals is no guarantee of avoiding future outbreaks. Nor does compensation provide farmers with alternate employment. Of what use are mechanization, computerization & education if there are no jobs available? Even if jobs are available, can the poor half educated villagers avail of them? Further, what are the chances that a mentally underdeveloped person can hold the job? What are the chances that a baby born to a mother who is undernourished, will be intelligent and healthy? Worse, if the mother suffers from worm infestation or chronic enteric disease?

 

It is imperative that we not only analyze, but also act immediately and effectively, to curtail the cause of so much human and animal suffering. India’s economy, at the very grass root level, is still related to its livestock - both land and marine. In our populous agro-based economy, it is important that every able-bodied individual is productive. The economy doesn’t relate only to the per capita income, but also to the constructive involvement of the people. Self-employment is a very important economic factor in a populous country like India. Hence, animals have a big role to play viz a viz the rural population. It is equally important that the animals they use in their daily lives are healthy and able. Thus, the health and well-being of both the people and the animals are intricately linked. Like any other tropical country, most of the endemic diseases here are of a zoonotic nature. Some of the common zoonotic diseases are encephalitis, rabies,  plague, brucellosis, anthrax and salmonellosis. The only solution offered is mass slaughter of diseased or suspected animals. Skin infections and worm infestation are also very common and easily avoidable.

 

The practical, emotional and economical impact of ill-health can’t be calculated. The benefits will be enormous, if animal health is attended to. Governments are notoriously slow in changing policies. This is why progress is slow, too ; and this is why it becomes all the more important that NGOs and individuals take the lead. We have to realize that animal welfare is an essential factor in social welfare and that we neglect it at our peril.

 

Health care management of the masses is dismal in most developing countries, including India. This comprises of:

[a] awareness of the disease

[h] preventive measures by the State

[cj curative facilities for the people

 

Resources invested in increasing the awareness of disease and enhancing preventive meas­ures would be far more effective in controlling the diseases, at the same time managing the Slate expenditure on health in a more economical way.

 

Take, for instance, RABIES. It takes one injection, costing Rs.25/-to be given annually to the dog. Post bite treatment, on the other hand, is anything North of Rs. 1,0007- for humans. Remember, one rabid dog bites a number of people before it dies.

 

According to Dr. Wasi of Bangkok’s Siriraj hospital, “people don’t get excited about rabies. It’s just not a hot issue. There is so much money for AIDS, but very little for rabies. Rabies is a fatal disease which can be prevented, but answer to the AIDS epidemic is still a long way off ”. Dr.M.K. Sudarshan of Bangalore represented India at the 1993 conference on rabies at Jakarta. He said that the WHO figures stated, that of the 70,000 people dying annually of rabies, 30,000 were in India. These statistics have been taken from isolation hospitals, whereas the real figure could be many times higher.

 

A month or so ago, there was an outbreak of encephalitis in Andhra Pradesh. A good number of children were killed and survivors were left with irreversible brain damage. Pigs were slaughtered en masse, when it was established that they were the responsible carriers. This, in a state which prides itself on technical development; so much so, that their Chief Minister is fondly called ‘Cyber Naidu1! We all know that mosquitoes do not breed on the backs of pigs - they need filthy water holes or choked drains to breed. People keeping pigs must be made aware of the need to observe basic cleanliness & sanitation in the piggery. The carriers were slaughtered without attacking the root cause of infection. Is this not a fallacy? And remember, killing animals is a costly exercise; a total waste of available resources.

 

Once the diseases spread, and people are ill, the amount spent on medication is much higher than cost of increasing awareness and adopting preventive measures. Some of the medicines are not manufactured domestically, making the treatment very expensive. These resources could be invested more productively by the state in other areas of the state economy and development. At present, villagers are totally unaware even of vaccination or de-worming schedules. They bathe in - and drink from the same ponds as do the cattle, pigs, goats, etc. Several die due to rabies, encephalitis, plague, etc. Others fade away due to enteric diseases, or continue to suffer from chronic skin infections. A minor ailment frequently turns into a fatal problem due to lack of simple treatment. Illness results in loss of man-days which results in lower production, and hence-lower income; although their expenses go up due to the need for treatment.

 

The world woke up lo the danger of ecological imbalance and environmental disaster only when we realized that we are on (he verge of destroying ourselves. In just a few decades of mindless greed, we have destroyed what il took Nature millions of years to build up. Isn’t it time we woke up to the truth that prevention is better than cure ?!

                                     

 

 

 

"Animal crusaders are not terrorists"
By Dirk Boon
in a Dutch Newspaper "Trouw" on october 22, 2003

In Boon’s opinion, crusading goes too far where violence against people and “great destruction” is concerned. But he does understand the radicalisation on the part of champions of animal rights. “When frustration becomes so high a McDonalds can go up in flames. I can understand that.”Boon knows a number of radical crusaders.’ “they are all well-meaning young men.”
In the professor’s view, the animal rights movement is no different to other freedom movements .“I mean here abortion, euthanasia, nuclear power, the right to strike. Each time there is a strong call for political intervention, it is about choices of principle. It leads to struggle which goes on for decades. “
Since the Seventies, Dirk Boon (54), has been concerned with the Legal position of animals. He graduated and obtained a doctorate on the subject. Since 1997, he is professor in Utrecht two days a week. To his dismay, Boon is to date the only lawyer in The Netherlands who is specialised in animal rights. “During the Eighties I hoped that many would follow me after my doctorate. That animal rights would develop to become a discipline in itself. Although that has occurred in the case of environmental rights, animal rights have remained behind. “
And where Boon remained alone in the academic world, the extraparliamentary champions of animal rights remained voices calling in the wilderness. Boon: “no progress whatsoever has been made. A number of distressing things are happening to animals, such as factory farming.” 130 million animals are kept in factory farming. They live in abominable circumstances. In the course of the last thirty years attention has been sought for this problem, to no avail.
The fact they are never heard leads to enormous frustration for some people. They see animals as their fellow creatures. Cropped up anger drives them over the limit: they break windows, visit a breeding farm. But is that a crime? It is a totally different category to knife fighters and drug smugglers. I can sympathise with these people. There are limits to what you can do to animals. “These lie, for example, by use of laboratory animals. I am not amazed that many people are appalled by this. The 7,000 people in our country concerned with the 700,000 laboratory animals we use each year are not giving any information away. It is almost impossible to ascertain how animal experiments are carried out and why. Their argument: ‘We have no desire to expose ourselves to terror’”.
,,The same applies to livestock farming. In this sector 130 million animals are kept, but when driving through The Dutch countryside, you see no evidence of it. Livestock farmers have made themselves invisible. Nobody is allowed in the stables because of danger of infection. They say: ‘the consumer wants affordable meat, and the consumer wants animal-friendly products and less disease among animals.’’ Without openness, these two parties become incredibly angry with each other”.
Boon considers the breakdown in communication to have disastrous consequences. “Radicalisation automatically comes about in this way. But it would be going too far to call it fundamentalism. Although Volkert van der G. has become the epitome of all that is evil, his way of working for Environment Offensive (Milieu Offensief) demands respect. In his short career he started 1200 legal proceedings, of which he won 90. He made no friends with local and provincial authorities in this way, but they had made a mess of it themselves.”

Animal crusaders are not terrorists.
Violence by protestors is accepted by the community as an unpleasant fact. And football hooligans do not have to pay for the damage they bring about. But damage done by animal crusaders is suddenly labeled “terrorist”.
Animal crusading is not terrorism. The Grote van Dale dictionary describes terrorism thus: ‘committing violence (individual or collective attacks, kidnapping, destruction) in order to demoralise the population and so to attain a political goal’. In the modern sense of the word, terrorism mainly means undermining democracy. There can be no talk of this in the case of animal crusading.
I have done research into social and political actions after the Second World War. Many of these actions are accompanied by destruction. Football hooliganism is a good example. The Ajax bus was recently set on fire. I don’t need to elaborate on the damage done by the squatters movement. I remember distinctly the state of siege which was the order of the day in Amsterdam during the Provo- period. Rows, rebellion, crusading, protests, all social and political offshoots. Destruction in Rome during the European Convention. Destruction in other parts of the World during World consultation about globalisation.
If the majority of Parliament judges animal crusaders to be terrorists, as became obvious recently, then I can only conclude that football hooligans and other rebels must also be included in this category.
Fact is that in the past, no hard measures were taken against all forms of vandalism. If supporters demolish the same football train every weekend, why do these hooligans not have to pay for the damage? If hooliganism requires inset of so many policeman on Sundays, why does the football club concerned not have to pay for the extra police activities? That doesn’t happen – at least not in my opinion – and still animal crusaders should be charged and treated as terrorists?
In a communication (Podium, 7 October), the VVD-member of Parliament, Anouchka van Miltenburg, awakes the impression that I approve of violence arising from social frustration. That is certainly not the case. She refers to an interview with me in Trouw (3 October) but the first lines of that interview state: no violence and little destruction. I do not close my eyes, however, to the fact that many protests are accompanied by destruction and violence. Such actions seem to be acceptable, provided they are conducted with moderation and everyone seems to turn a blind eye to the material damage. I have never heard of the violators of commemorative monuments being followed and charged. The same applies to the Moroccan youths who recently left a trail of destruction throughout Amsterdam-West immediately following the commemoration of a Moroccan boy who had been shot and killed by a policeman. In this society, this sort of destruction is obviously tolerated by police and the Pub
lic Prosecutor. It is just a fact of life. Nobody gets upset at the fact that the independent tobacconist is not compensated by his insurance company for damage and that he is too afraid – for fear of repercussions – to claim the costs of the damage from the perpetrators. We clearly need to be brave and carry the costs of material damage ourselves
Many social questions are solved eventually. That can take a year and sometimes much longer. There has never been an adequate solution found for football hooliganism which has been around since the Seventies.
Animal welfare problems have increased both in quality and numbers during the last forty years. In the Netherlands 150 million animals are kept, almost ten per member of the population. For far and away most of these animals, their welfare leaves much to be desired. The main problems lie in farming of production animals, which counts some 125 million at this point in time. Factory farming should be seen as a dead-end street. It has provided the farmers concerned no lasting, economic position, the landscape has been destroyed, the problem with manure is as large as ever, animal fodder needs to be imported from countries far abroad, which has been produced on a surface six times as large as the Dutch agricultural acreage, and animal welfare remains as poor as ever. There is constant tension between producers and consumers, and at the same everyone has had enough of the breakout and combating of infectious diseases in animals in recent years.
Most people are fed up of this situation. In their houses, however, 800,000 thoroughbred dogs are to be found, the majority of whom are afflicted with serious hereditary abnormalities. Painful defects which make them sick. And then there are all those people who are concerned about the fate of the 700,000 laboratory animals used annually in The Netherlands and about the state of the environment.
Via my University Chair, I am often approached by people who are emotionally totally distressed at the conditions in which so many groups of animals are kept in our society. I myself am not lead by these sentiments, but I recognize very well the frustration in various layers of society. The ‘human-animal question” has only increased during the last forty years and to a certain extent I can understand how so many people have become frustrated at the many problems occurring with animals. If aggression arises and is released at the loss of a football match or other such trivial matter, then I am certainly not surprised that material damage is caused during crusades by seriously frustrated animal lovers. Let me put it more strongly: I am surprised that these actions are so small-scaled and only take place incidentally. If the Parliament Building should be stormed tomorrow and held under siege for considerable time by animal crusaders, it would not surprise me at all. Please
note: I do not approve of this, I am only registering and while doing so I note that so much aggression is accepted in our society as being self-evident.
The term 'terrorists' should be reserved for people and groups of people who attempt to undermine Democracy and her culture by means of destruction and violence. In our society, besides, various forms of violence and destruction are to be seen, conducted individually or in an organized manner, which need to be settled within the normal framework of criminal justice. This also includes animal crusading.

[Since the Seventies, Dirk Boon (54), has been concerned with the Legal position of animals. He graduated and obtained a doctorate on the subject. Since 1997, he was professor Animal Rights at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.]

 

 

Court buoys rabies-free city initiative
A STAFF REPORTER ( The TELEGRAPH, KOLKATA March 2 , 2004 )

Pressure groups in Athens have accused the city authorities of poisoning and burning more than 3,000 stray dogs and an equal
number of cats to keep the Greek capital "clean and beautiful" for the Olympics. The consequences - an alarming spiral in the city's rat
population. Remember Surat?
The Bangkok governor had ordered eviction of street dogs from the central historical district last year, an order, if enforced, would
have seen more rats, crows, feral cats, feral pigs and monkeys running amok on the city streets.
By contrast, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) stopped killing strays since March 1996, when the animal birth-control and anti-
rabies (ABC/AR) programme was launched, in conjunction with People for Animals (PFA).
The joint initiative to make Calcutta the second rabies-free city in Asia after Singapore got a shot in the arm after the high court
recently dismissed a public interest litigation against the CMC and PFA, filed by a clutch of animal welfare organisations.
Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice A.K. Banerjee disposed of the PIL, which had accused the civic body and PFA of "cruel treatment" to
street dogs and sought free "access" to the CMC dog pound at Hatgachhia to "prevent arbitrariness and abuse of authority". The
court order, while ignoring allegations of a "nexus" between the civic authorities and PFA, directed the CMC to adopt a "proper humane
approach" in catching strays.
"Ever since we kicked off the spay-neuter programme as supplementary to the existing ABC/AR campaign, we have faced
resistance from various quarters and vested-interest groups. But, the high court order is vindication enough of our total commitment to the
cause and we can now go full steam ahead with the rabies eradication programme," observed PFA managing trustee Debasis Chakrabarti.
The NGO, entrusted with the task of controlling stray dog and cat populations in wards 1 to 90 in collaboration with the CMC, aims to
achieve a stray dog density of two per sq km of road space in the city by acceleration of the spay/neuter programme. "It will simultaneously
reduce and gradually eliminate rabies, which is preventable, not curable," stressed Chakrabarti.


The Mckee Project !
Dr. Gerardo Vicente is one of those rare combinations – a veterinarian who is also an animal lover. He hails from Costa Rica, and is trying to popularize the concept of community participation, through The McKee Project.Dr. Vicente was in our city on 15th September, 03. He came all the way to speak of this method for the success of the ABC/AR (Animal Birth Control/ Anti-Rabies) program for reducing the stray dog population and controlling rabies. A small workshop was organized at the Dhapa Dog Pound, which went off so well that it seemed a real pity that Mr.Anisur Rehman, Minister for Animal Resource Development, Govt. of West Bengal, couldn’t hear Dr. Vicente’s presentation. We were all delighted when he acquiesced to our request that he be the Chief Guest for the function, but unfortunately he had to take the early morning flight (instead of the later one planned initially). However, Dr.A.Chatterjee, Director of the Veterinary Services of West Bengal was with us, and gave a very pragmatic talk about the need for a systematic method for tackling the problem. Mrs.Keya Gupta represented Mother Of Stray Dogs attended the workshop, and so did Dr. from People For Animals Hooghly.Dr.Kanak Roy (our NRI Trustee spoke with great clarity and impact, about the welfare part of this program, and about the pet adoption/ puppy adoption center he is focusing on. Dr. P.K.Samanta, our Chief Veterinarian, hit out at the outdated methods and medication being used, and pleaded for Government support to streamline the surgical methodology through a training program which he volunteered to lead.All the speakers spoke with deep feeling and sincerity. It was possibly the fact that each person present was there only because they were genuinely concerned about stray dogs, and this was the emotional bond which created the ambience. Would that this ambience could spread all over our sad, cruel world, and continue to revive the humane instincts of the Homo sapiens!

 

Dr. Vicente discussing  the Mckee Project with Dr. Samanta, Dr. Roy & Dr. Banerjee.

Debasis speaks on Wildlife Smuggling
It was unnecessary to speak about the laws, since the Customs and Excise people new them fully well. It was futile to repeat the impressive facts and figures dwelt upon by Mr.Biswajit Mohanty of the Wildlife Society of Orissa. What people need everywhere is motivation, and this is the theme chosen by Mr.Debasis Chakrabarti in his hour-long speech.

He began quoting H.G.Wells (The Time Machine) who wrote that the world has progressed from agriculture to paradox. The paradox is that although we have made a substantial amount of progress in information and technology, we still face the problems of insufficiency. This is the result of both uncontrolled overpopulation, and uncontrolled greed. As Mahatma Gandhi put it, "There is enough for every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed."

Debasis spoke informally and extempore, to the 65+ group of officers and employees, on a one to one basis. He pointed how greed was a very natural component of human nature, and accepted that it is difficult to hold on to values and suffer economically, especially when one sees others give in to temptation and flourish. He suggested that if greed there be, let it be for the luxury of knowing that one had the strength to resist a temptation which would have done incalculable damage to future generations. In this day and age, job satisfaction is a rare commodity, and at the end of the day, frustration and guilt erase the elation of outward appearances. There are comparatively innocuous items, and there are items which cannot be condoned by any allurement. The damage to the ecology, caused by the illegal trade in wildlife, is irreversible. The hype created by scientists lead the less informed to believe that cloning is the answer to every problem. This fallacy compounds the damage to our environment, since people tend to take environmental issues more lightly. Nature took ages to develop her own balance. Mankind has brought it to a level where the fragile balance can be wrecked any time. A cloned tiger, for instance, can never contribute to the ecology once the tigers created by nature are extinct.

Debasis made a few down to earth suggestions. One of these was that posters be put up at Airports, to alert uninformed couriers, and criminals, of the banned items. Another was a mention, on the immigration/ disembarkation forms, that the passenger is not carrying any of these contraband items. Yet another was to release the poacher with a warning, provided he gives a lead to the next in the chain of the traffickers.

Debasis also emphasized upon the need to avoid inter-departmental feuds, and the urge to take credit. He lauded the Government for placing wildlife crimes under the CBI, so that a centralized information bank could get inputs from all the different agencies involved in the matter and also from the public who prefer to avoid revealing themselves. The fact that – after Mrs. Indira Gandhi – Mr.Atal Behari Bajpayi was the first Prime Minister of India to take up the issue seriously was significant and encouraging. Since this subject was finally receiving the importance it deserves, at the highest levels, it was obvious that everyone in the department would also have to give it due importance. That being the case, it was up to the individual. "I plead with you, with folded hands" he pleaded emotionally, " think about the affect of your action. Think about your grandchildren, and their children. Think about all the unborn future generations which are – literally – dependent upon your choice, for their health and even existence."

Debasis pointed out the need to stop thinking about state our national boundaries, because the issue had a global effect, and the damage had to be controlled at base; where the animals and birds lived, where they were caught and killed; not just at the International borders after the damage was done. He told them about the crisis in U.P.’s Rajaji Park, where flying insects were destroying 7,00,000 sal trees. Tribals had to be employed to kill these insects and save the forest area. This was the result of poaching of indigenous birds who had eaten these insects and controlled their population. This was just one example of some seemingly immaterial activity harmed us all.

"The next war will not be over fuel, nor over religion," Debasis warned. "It will be over water. Pure, drinking water, for which there is no substitute, and which cannot be manufactured by all our advance in science and technology, computerization or space exploration. It is time we place our feet solidly on the ground and prepare to face the grim consequences, unless we are prepared to sacrifice immediate, petty gain and comfort for long-term, essential benefits, and survival itself, for the entire human race."

THE TELEGRAPH

Thursday, February 27, 2003

NGOs called in to help save wildlife

SUBHRO SAHA

Can a cloned tiger contribute to ecology? How can thousands of sal trees be saved from flying insects whose population has spun out of control, thanks to rampant poaching of indigenous birds? How does one save the Olive Ridley and Gangetic turtles? In a significant move to curb illegal trafficking in wildlife and boost conservation efforts, the Central government has involved the expertise of NGOs working in the field "for the first time", and a city-based activist body figures among those called to "share their experience" to bolster the knowledge base. Compassionate Crusaders Trust (CCT), a Calcutta NGO working on animal rights and wildlife protection, was invited to an awareness workshop organised by the chief commissioner of central excise and customs, Bhubaneswar, on the ‘Role of central excise & customs officers in the conservation of wildlife’. Held in the Orissa capital on Central Excise Day (February 24), the workshop was attended by more than 160 customs and central excise officers. "It’s a significant leap forward to involve speciality groups and this effort can only improve motivation levels," said Debasis Chakraborti, CCT founder, who did a presentation at the first-of-its-kind workshop. Biswajeet Mohanty from Wild Life Society of Orissa was the other expert to speak at the interface, inaugurated by chief commissioner of central excise & customs, Bhubaneswar, Sujoy Roy. "This is not a mere endeavour to pursue love for animals, but an effort to preserve our own natural resources," Roy told the participants. Dwelling on the menace of illegal traffic in wildlife products, he stressed on the need to "control the damage at the base", where the animals and birds are captured and killed, "and not just at international borders". CCT, which received the Venu Menon Award last year for its work in curtailing cattle-smuggling across the Bangladesh border, expressed concern at the increasing traffic of Gangetic turtles into Bangladesh through the state’s "porous" borders. "The turtles, sold clandestinely in markets across West Bengal, constitute only about five per cent of the total catch. The rest are smuggled into Bangladesh, where it’s not a protected species and consumption of its meat is legal," said Chakraborti. The CCT suggested that posters be put up at airports to alert uninformed couriers of banned items, or a mention made on the immigration/disembarkation forms that the passenger is not carrying contraband stuff. The NGO lauded the Centre for placing wildlife crimes under the CBI, so that a centralised information bank could get inputs from all the agencies involved, and also from the public, protecting their identity.

 

Indian Zoo Inquiry Project .
The existence of zoos has come under increasing scrutiny and debate in recent years due to changing attitudes toward animal welfare/rights. Whilst most progressive zoos continue to evolve and adapt standards to reflect this new concern, there are many captive facilities which severely compromise the needs of their inmates. This is particularly true of zoos in underdeveloped and developing countries where animal issues come low on the agenda. It is thus a job cut out for all
concerned individuals to strive to make conditions better in all captive facilities despite broader philosophical differences. Whilst animal welfare organizations need to communicate more with zoos and wildlife conservation agencies, zoos also need to urgently acknowledge the problems inherent in a captive set up. It is in the teeth of the contention that animal welfare/rights organizations have an important role to play in the zoo issue that the following presentation is intended. It would be naive to expect cooperation between zoos and animal welfare/rights organizations on all issues but the two sides must, of necessity agree to disagree and cooperate to improve animal welfare under the prevailing circumstances. The author is a freelance animal welfare worker who has visited more than 40 zoos in India. He is associated with both zoo and animal welfare organizations and is thus in a position to study the disparate viewpoints. His present Indian Zoo Inquiry project, funded by Zoocheck Canada and facilitated by Compassionate Crusader's Trust, is an independent effort toward analyzing the utility of zoos from the point of view of a discerning zoo visitor. There are more than 300 zoos in India and the central governing body is the Central Zoo Authority of India. His visits to a sample of 30 zoos in India aim to assess animal welfare standards and general husbandry procedures.The project aims to verify if Indian zoos are measuring up to the legal standards binding on them according to the Central Zoo Authority Of India. Results indicate there is a wide gap between claims of 'what should be' and 'what is'. The project questions the conservation claims of Indian zoos and considers if it is not better for most zoos to stop their largely unsuccessful captive breeding programmes and become rescue centres for abused wild animals. The project has gathered evidence in the form of what is plainly visible to a zoo visitor during a normal zoo visit. Still film shots have been used along with video footage in most cases. The project analyses data and offers several recommendations to improve the situation. It also, however, calls the attention of the public toward abnormal/stereotypic behaviour patterns in captive zoo animals which very frequently go unnoticed by members of the general public.The Indian Zoo Inquiry also questions the desirability of some husbandry practices like chaining elephants, single animals in Indian zoos and the ethics of incarceration of particularly problematic species like elephants, big carnivores and apes. The project also strongly emphasizes on the moral issue surrounding zoos. It is the stand of the investigator that there is a strong moral imperative concerned with animals in captivity. More and more questions are being asked about the ethics of keeping animals in captivity for the sole purpose of human entertainment. The Indian Zoo Inquiry project tests some traditional claims of zoos in relation to the moral spotlight. The moral argument concerning animals will stay, no matter what and the researcher has attempted to relate his objective findings to moral considerations wherever possible. Scientific claims of conservation have been examined in the zoos surveyed. Data collected from available literature show only a mere handful of Indian zoos which are capable assisting conservation by reintroducing animals. Educational claims have been examined by taking video footage of public behaviour and interviewing a segment of the zoo visiting populace. Animal husbandry methods have been reviewed by comparing existing Indian zoo practices with acceptable and prevalent care standards in the better zoos of the world. Whilst economic conditions would automatically preclude drastic improvements, the project identifies numerous examples of captive animal care where the lives of the inmates could be made a little more tolerable than at present by using inexpensive and simple methods. The project has also sought to review the status of zoos as institutions run on tax payers' money in most circumstances and if their claims and expenditure properly reflect their concern for educating the public. The project has been assisted by reputed and bona fide animal welfare/conservation organizations, both national and international. Whilst it is accepted from the outset that the results and recommendations of the Indian Zoo Inquiry Project will provoke debate within and outside the zoo community, the investigator would warmly welcome all parties for their differing input and efforts toward a more enlightened, compassionate and viable captive wild animal policy for Indian zoos.
Ideas for Controlling Wild Elephants
  1. Plant trees and shrubs and grasses which elephants like, well within the forest area, so that elephants do not need to venture out of forest areas. Jackfruit is a favorite food with them. Mature trees fruit profusely. To allow trees to mature, jackfruit in large quantities will have to be placed beside the trees for the first few years. Sugar cane and bamboo are also hot favorites, along with other plants indigenous to their habitat.
  2. Put the head of the village committee in charge of ensuring that these trees etc are actually planted and watered in the dry days, till big enough to survive. Bamboo guards can protect them from other creatures. They should be planted after the elephant herd has moved away for the year, so that they are bigger and stronger by the time the elephants return the following year. Mature plants should be chosen, for quick growth.
  3. To protect these plants, the villagers should place baskets of food for the elephants near the plants. The elephants will then eat the food and spare the plants. Food chosen must be heavy enough for elephants to feel full. Thirsty elephants will go in search of water; hence arrangements need to be made to quench their need for water, so that they remain within forest boundaries. Maybe the Govt. could organize rainwater-harvesting methods within the forest area, and involve unemployed villagers for their maintenance. Bengal is rich in water, so if some thought is given to this problem, a solution doesn’t seem impossible. The Government could pay in advance for this food, since it will save the compensation costs paid for destroyed crops. Rice mills can be asked to provide husk, other items like wheat grains, sugarcane husk, etc. A strong sedative could also be added to the food in the pots, so that the elephants will be too sleepy and dull to become aggressive.
  4. A wide bamboo patch can be created just outside the forest. Bamboo grows fast and repeatedly, and is inexpensive. Banana trees will also be needed in profusion. The villagers need to understand that these must be kept aside for hungry elephants, to save the crops.
  5. A wide ditch, connected to a moat to keep it unpleasantly soggy, with broken branches in it, will be unpleasant for elephants to step on. It will help if tiger dung (procured from zoos) is mixed in this mass, since elephants have a keen sense of smell and this smell will make them nervous about approaching. Alternately, other smells disliked by elephants can be considered.
  6. Little crackers, which make a loud noise when stepped upon, can be kept in these ditches. These should be placed under plants, which the elephants are likely to choose, for crossing over the slimy moat. Alternatively, thick glue could be spread on the planks. This will not harm the elephants, but be unpleasant because grass etc will stick to their feet and irritate them.
  7. Small fires can be ignited, just after the ditch, and red chilli powder is put into it. This will have the same effect as tear gas. The eyes of the elephants will smart, and tears will flow profusely. The entire experience will be very unpleasant, without doing any damage. It could prove to be an effective deterrent, provided that the elephants are not too hungry.
  8. A cactus hedge, after this wide ditch, will block the vision of the elephants, and they may feel it is better to try another area, since they see only unappetizing cactus plants!
  9. Packs of village dogs can be created to give alarm at the approach of elephants. They can also be used to irritate the animals. They cannot contain the elephants, but they can become a disincentive for elephants to approach.
  10. Trained elephants must be used for replacing food in the baskets inside the forest area. They can also be used to communicate to the wild elephants that there is danger – if they can be trained to do so. Even if this is not possible, they can surely be used to trumpet a warning when elephants enter the villages.
  11. The pros and cons must be explained to local people. Local press and leaders must be involved in the program. People have to understand that overpopulation leads to deforestation and this causes endless problems. The damage to them, indirectly, if elephants are all killed, must be understood. They need to know that this is a universal problem and the solutions have to be created by local people working together with the authorities, protecting their forest ad wildlife resources as well as their crops and homes. Involving women will be more effective, since they are more concerned with the safety of their home and family, while men and youngsters tend to take things lightly.
  12. Attractive prizes and other reward methods must be used, as incentives, in annual prizes for the village, which shows the best planning for this problem. Once one village sets an example, others will be encouraged to participate in the program.

 

ASPIRATION
Could I live nobly as the horse,
I’d sacrifice my hands, of course;
Were I as faithful as the dog,
I’d “speak with tongues” like men of God;
Could I soar heavenward like the birds,
I’d have no need to utter words;
Could I be pure in thought as this,
I’d give my intellect – for bliss!

This thought provoking poem was sent to me by a lady I’d met  years ago. Her name is Jenny Gage, and she lives in Wales, in a  farm, and her first love is – as far as I know – horses. Jenny had come to India, and spent some months giving voluntary  service to the animals in the Sanjay Gandhi Animal Shelter &  Hospital at Delhi. She fell in love with “Karuna Kunj”, and I fell in love with her poetry. It is a wonderful feeling to meet people who are sensitive and caring, and Jenny certainly has both sensitivity and love, in abundance. This poem contrasts sharply, and none too well, with the recent reports from China. China is reported to be rounding up dogs and cats from SARS patient’s homes, although veterinary experts said that there is no evidence that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome can be transmitted to humans from household animals.
A pet owner in Beijing is reported to have thrown his dog from the sixth floor, because the dog had fever, and the man thought it might be SARS. The dog did not die immediately and is reported to have been buried alive. Looking back at the history of the loyalty of dogs, one can only grieve that man is so lacking in the same quality – and also lacks their capacity for giving unconditional love. A dog would rather die, than abandon his master, but selfish man has no such qualms. The 10 million abandoned pets are mute witnesses to this. A dog accepts his master’s beating without rancor, and creeps up to him for forgiveness. How differently most of us react, even when the reprimand we receive is justified!
If most of us were to dwell upon such differences, we’d probably  not be able to face ourselves. As my Guru used to say, we have four things in common with all creatures: fear, hunger, sleep and the urge to procreate. People, whose lives are spent in indulging in these only, are nothing more than another species of the animal kingdom. The factors, which raise us above the animal level, is the conscientious utilizing of our God given abilities for the benefit of all. Further, as Peter Singer so succinctly expresses it, we must be free of specism. Specism is as damaging as any other “ism”. This includes fanatasim, chauvinism, etc. It is the psychological ploy of the lower instinct for controlling and manipulating others for personal agendas. We need to free ourselves from it, if we desire personal growth and universal good. The greatest danger the world faces today, is the apathy of the affluent towards the underprivileged. All other factors are a result of this cancer of the soul. Animal welfare work is, perhaps, the most effective remedy, because it cuts across all mental and emotional blockages of caste, creed, sex, religion, race, color and 
species. To dismiss it as unimportant, is to wear blinkers, because human welfare remains incomplete and ineffective if animals are diseased or extinct. Victoria Windsor is another kind lady. She sends us donations, books, and newspaper clippings from Miami, USA. I have never met her, but all of us are touched at her steady contribution of invaluable information and gifts (like seeds of catnip for Kauna Kunj’s cat shelter and toys for the cats). Recently, she sent me a newspaper clipping, which stated that scientists and medics in the US have located 35 new types of viruses, which are causing havoc for humans. These include Sars and Aids. They also predict many more such onslaughts, and give a dismal picture of the medical community’s ability in curbing them. They say that we have only ourselves to blame, because of our unthinking activity in trying to control Nature, destroy forest cover, indulge in extensive farming, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals, the prolific use of materials which are non-biodegradable, bombarding the smallest infections with strong drugs (which infections become immune to), unhealthy food habits and lifestyles. This list does not include the deadliest infection which threatens humanity. Lack of humane values. It is up to us, whether we ignore the warning bell, or save ourselves from the disasters ahead. Animals cannot control their future, but we can. The point is, do we have the strength of mind needed to do so?
 

Fallacy !!

The years spent in animal welfare work have revealed the contrasts in human nature – from the so-called elite of society, to the so-called scum of society. A few examples are given below: A wealthy gentleman calls for our Vet and Ambulance repeatedly, for his Great Dane. Promises to raise funds. Stops calling us when the dog is better. Calls again, when the dog is on the deathbed. Our team reaches the house only to find the gates shut, and are told by the Darwan that the dog is dead and they can go back. When I call him to remind him of his commitment, he expresses inability to help. When told point blank that we work only on donations, and if people who are able don’t help, how can this service continue, I am told, "Madam, you offer a free service. Why do you crib when someone avails of it? "Compare this with a school teacher who gives 28% of her salary, every month, for feeding the animals at Ashari!  An unknown person pours acid on a little puppy outside his door. The puppy is brought to the dog pound and treated. He wags his tail valiantly when spoken to, and gobbles down the biscuits offered, even in that condition. He dies after two days, with his intestines rupturing his peritoneum. Compare this with the people who instinctively run to the rescue of any distressed animal, and collect whatever small change they can spare, to donate to the Compassionate Crusaders Trust. The basti dwellers who resisted the Municipal Dog Catching van, compared to those in posh high-rises who think they’ve done something smart by calling the dog catchers to exterminate the dogs on the roads. (This used to happen before 1996.)The children who step out of swanky cars at the Victoria Memorial and enjoy a horse ride, with proud mothers looking admiringly as they whip up an obviously unfit pony. Compare them to the mothers who remind their children to take a bit of jaggery (gur), or some carrots, to feed the pony after the ride, reminding them to choose a pony that looks fresh and healthy. The unscrupulous breeders who do not scruple to breed old and unfit dogs; nor kill unsold puppies. Compare them to the caring people who spend money (and time) they can ill afford to reduce even a little of the suffering of these puppies who have inherited genetic defects from parents with problems like hip dysplesia. The poor and ignorant villagers who are paid a pittance for tiger skins and other contraband wildlife, compared to the fabulously rich, who create the demand, and are fully aware of the damage created by their selfish demands and financial capacity. Compare the fearless, selfless campaigning of activists, with the indolence of the smug intellectuals who – after taking all the advantages society has received from animals – state that they are "not interested" in animals. Compare the wife of a senior corporate executive who came to Kolkata for two years, and helped to raise funds, to the well-heeled people who called the PetXpress and gave a donation of Rs.20.Compare the vegetarians who feel that it is OK to buy silk, varak coated sweets, leather and other animal products, to the non-vegetarians who have adopted a vegan lifestyle because they believe that animals are not created for mankind to exploit. Compare the Hindu gowalas who inject cattle with Oxytocin, to the Muslim activist killed by butchers in Mumbai, because he objected to illegal slaughter.
ANIMAL FRIENDLY SCHOOLS

It is heartening to get a response from four schools in the past quarter.The Members of CARE (Nature Club of the G.D.Birla Center for Education, Behala) raised funds to sponsor the sterilization and anti-rabies vaccination of 10 street dogs in their locality. This is a truly admirable undertaking in active social welfare, because it helps to keep the entire locality free of disease and the risk of rabies. The dogs will no longer multiply. Since their libido is reduced, incidents of dog bites and dog fights will reduce. Our practice of de-worming the dogs will ensure that the children living on the pavements and playing with these dogs will be safe from worms, or the risk of rabies. Nor will the pathetic sight of puppies crushed under the wheels of a speeding vehicle sadden the sensitive people any more.The Calcutta International School invited us to show an educational video to their children. Unfortunately, the higher classes were too busy, and we will have to wait till they get spare time, to go and speak to them. Although it is a pleasure to interact with the little ones, a paucity of time and helpers render it difficult to attend.The Loreto Girls School, Bowbazar, also invited us and it was a pleasure to see the interest of their Nature Club. We showed PeTA’s cassette, "Compassionate Citizen" which left them enthralled. The kit sent by PeTA was given to the teachers of the Nature Club, whose response was as warm as the students’.The La Martinere Girls’ School, Nature Club, also invited us to show a video. This time we chose PeTA’s expose` on transport of cattle for slaughter. The reaction was predictably tearful, but there is no doubt that this expose` has left an impact, and none who viewed it could ever feel like using leather any more, or remain sanguine about the plight of animals.Developing awareness about the suffering of animals, about how animal welfare is an integral part of social welfare, and promoting, compassionate and proactive attitudes among the youth, is the only way we can succeed in creating a more compassionate and ethically aware social order. We hope that more schools, educationists and others involved in the upbringing of the young will realize this and join our endeavors.

 

Encouragement !
Despite all the difficulties, anguish and adversaries we meet, despite being called crazy and even "anti-human", there is much for people like us to be glad about! Kim and Merritt Bartlett-Clifton (and their son Wolf) are committed people. They publish the world’s most comprehensive monthly newsmagazine on animal related issues. Their visit to our centers a couple of years ago, is a treasured memory even today. Having spent years of thought, energy and expenses for the cause of animals, they do not hesitate to write the truth, even when it upsets powerful interests and puts them in considerable personal danger. Given below is a recent message I got from them. I feel it will make a far better editorial than anything I can write today. "Many of you work in situations in which the atrocities and stupidities constantly surrounding you must often seem overwhelming. Then you check your e-mail and another whole universe of suffering comes cascading in. It can often seem as if so much is handed to you because no one else gives a damn. Actually, we all hear and see so much because so many of us give a damn, and are increasingly well connected, toward turning the world around. Hearing and seeing so much is among the most important signs of change, and leading reasons to be encouraged. Marian Lane and Tracey McIntyre of the ASPCA recently asked for my personal perspective on the turnabout of the past 40-odd years, and then cut out all the statistics. With the thought that you too may find it encouraging, or at least different from all the numbers I usually hit you with--
From ASPCA Animal Watch, Fall 2002:
Listening in
by Merritt Clifton
Animal people usually say that animals were always in their lives, years before their awakening as animal advocates. Animals, however, were almost absent from my childhood, seen only on Easter visits to zoos. Dogs were an accursed presence who messed sidewalks; the first cat I remember was seething in a rabid frenzy. Yet in 1958, when I was a precocious five-year-old, already devouring newspapers the way other young readers devour picture books, I cried upon reading that Laika the Russian space dog would burn to death during reentry from orbit. When I learned that the decompression chambers used for deep-sea diving were also used to kill unwanted dogs and cats, I declared that I would start a kitty farm to save them all. It was right about then that I learned where meat comes from.It wasn't the shock that it was for most children--we were already vegetarians. My father had renounced bloodshed in any form after his World War II combat experience. As we had no more direct involvement with meat and slaughter than we did with war, I did not have to deal with the issues of guilt and denial that trouble so many children (and awakened adults). When I read in a magazine about both the Nazi death camps and the 1959 effort to pass the Humane Slaughter Act, I immediately equated the photos of dead, naked children my own age with photos of dead pigs on a conveyor belt. It was all the same thing to me. We moved a lot during my childhood. Every new school I attended brought with it a new gang of older boys who tried almost daily to trash the vegetarian lunch I made myself, and tried to force me to ingest meat or dog feces. They never succeeded. No one seemed surprised when in 1966 and again in 1967 I refused to kill and dissect animals in science class. I took the academic consequences--first a 'D' grade and then demotion to non-college track science--without complaint. When I was 16 and working at a local newspaper, I received a press release about a planning meeting for the first Earth Day, and sang out, "It's going to be Earth Day--take a clod to lunch!" "You cover it," the editor growled. And so I did. At the first Earth Day rally in Berkeley, California in 1970, I heard the impassioned speeches given on human and animal overpopulation and vegetarianism. But I did not connect with them. I was there to report the news, not make it. Instead I listened.
I listened as the most unlikely sources told me stories that proved the world was changing. For instance, I listened when the son of a famous vivisector strode into the newspaper office, threw his motorcycle helmet down on my desk, and denounced his father’s work. I listened to a veteran soldier from China who told me that the worst atrocity he had seen in four wars were officers eating the brains of a live monkey. I listened to an animal-loving humane worker whose job it was to euthanize animals. I adopted the one cat I could afford to keep, had him fixed, and began talking about it. While in Quebec, Canada, where for 13 years I covered the farm and business beat, I listened to a farmer who drowned kittens because he did not know what else to do with them. I began taking barn cats to the vet to be fixed. I listened to the old game warden who authorized me to destroy every trap I could find on posted land--although I had already been doing it on my own. I listened to mothers bawl as their calves were hauled to vealers. And I began to write. I wrote about these tormented animals and the people who cared enough to tell me their stories. Each year, more and more people have responded to these stories. The atrocities are still there; so many are they that people often feel as if no progress is occurring. But I remember when hardly anyone believed another soul cared, so that routine cruelty to animals occurred in a vast silence, less in conspiracy than in despair."
So, let us never allow despair to weaken our efforts. There is no doubt that some Power (I would call it God) is working for animals now, globally, and Compassion is on the rise, as is awareness and ethical outlooks. All we need to do is forge ahead, keeping in view our goal, and preventing personal considerations from harming the movement.

The Chained Dog !

 

 

 

 

During his final years in exile, Napoleon Bonaparte wrote how, at the end of the Italian campaign, a dog sat beside the body of his fallen master, licking his hand. Napoleon could not get this out of his mind, and at the end of his days, wrote this: Perhaps it was the spirit of the time and the place that effected me. But, I assure you, no occurrence on any of my other battlefields impressed me so keenly. I halted on my tour, to gaze upon the spectacle , and to reflect on its meaning. This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home, and in his regiment; yet he lay there, deserted by all except his dog……… I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet, here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And, by what? By the grief of one dog.

(Extract from Dogs Don’t Lie About Love by Jeffery Masson)

THE CHAINED DOG

I wish someone would tell me

What it is that I’ve done wrong,

Why do I have to stay chained up

And be left alone so long?

They seemed so glad to have me

When I came here as a pup…

There were so many things we’d do,

While I was growing up.

The Master said he’s train me

As a companion and a friend,

The Mistress said she’d never fear

To be alone again.

The children said they’d feed me

And brush me every day,

They’d play with me and walk me,

If only I could stay.

But now the Master ‘hasn’t time’,

The Mistress says I shed,

She doesn’t want me in the house,

Not even to be fed.

The children never walk me,

They always say, ‘not now’,

I wish that I could please them,

Won’t someone tell me, how?

All I had was love, you see,

I wish they would explain

Why they said they wanted mine,

And then left it on a chain.

 

The Compassionate Soldier !   

 

An army Officer, driving through a desert area, saw a deer being chased by a pack of wild dogs. The dogs had managed to isolate her from the herd and were attacking her viciously. Using his vehicle to ward off the dogs, Major Siddiquie picked up the deer at considerable risk to himself, and took her to the camp. The gentle creature responded valiantly to his treatment and care, but her stomach had been ruptured, and she succumbed to her injuries
after three days. The winner of a Sena Medal, our long time friend and supporter, Major Siddiquie found it was not easy, even for a veteran war officer, to accept the death of a creature he had saved.
Break from Bondage of Blood !   

 

 

 

A retirement home for horses has been created at ASHARI (Animal Shelter "cum Hospital And Research Institute). It is the first of its kind, and is" a path breaking joint venture between  PFAC and the Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. The beneficiaries are some 20+ horses who have been used for blood letting for the manufacture of anti-venom serum.
"The antidote to snake bite is a life saving drug. To make this, snake" "venom is injected into horses, and blood, up to 10% of their body weight," "is drawn from them, after a stipulated period. The blood is then processed" for preparing the anti-venom serum. Injecting the venom causes massive "ulceration, The drawing of huge quantities of blood is painful and" "weakening. It results in calcium and other deficiencies, and, after some" "years, the horses are no longer able to create anti-bodies and become" useless to the manufacturers. They suffer terribly because commercial considerations result in their being considered nothing more than blood "manufacturing tools. Due to economical and practical reasons, the use of" horses is preferred to the other alternative of using sheep.
"Horses are loyal, intelligent and sensitive animals, with a high level of" "tolerance of pain. Next to dogs, they have proved to be man's best friend." These magnificent animals deserve a better return for the benefits they "render, than be allowed to die of neglect and malnutrition after such" infliction of acute pain.
The Government of West Bengal has given over four acres of prime land to People For Animals. The Mukundpur site is ideally suited for the creation "of what will be Asia's largest animal hospital complex, which will cater" "to the rural and urban livestock, pets and strays. The first phase, the" "Shelter area, was inaugurated by Mr.Viren J.Shah, Governor of West Bengal,"
"in January 2001. The second phase, the Small Animal Hospital is currently" being readied.
The plight of the horses being used by the eight companies manufacturing anti-venom serum caused grave concern. The CPCSEA (Committee for the Purpose of Control & Supervision of Experiments on Animals) directives clashed with the commercial interests of the manufacturers. The Supreme Court appointed a six-member committee to look into the matter. After "studying the findings of this committee, the Court issued a show cause" "notice to four manufacturers, giving them two weeks to answer as to why" they should not be closed down. The period of two weeks ends on
"Whereas the Vins Bio-products, Haffkins and CRI Kasauli, are yet to" "respond, Bengal Chemicals have come forward with commendable zeal, and" joined hands with PFAC to provide a better life for unfit horses.
"An area of 7,000 Sq. Ft. has been allotted for these horses. Bengal" Chemicals have built a shed and fenced off some open ground for the horses to move freely. They will also be paying PFAC a certain amount towards the "treatment and maintenance costs. Horses, which recover sufficiently to be" "used again, will be returned to Bengal Chemicals after the PFA" veterinarian certifies them fit for use. They rest will enjoy their retirement benefits more than any human who accepts a VRS!
The image of Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Has been considerably enhanced by this move. Others in the Corporate Sector would do well to emulate their example of enlightened self-interest. Such cooperation will achieve much in resolving the conflict between animal users and animals rights groups.
 "Ethical attitudes and practices towards Nature, the animals kingdom and" "weaker groups, is an integral part of human development and civilization." "Usage of animals is unavoidable, but unethical, callousness cannot be" condoned under any circumstances. The coming together of these two groups will hopefully set a new trend in taking civilization a step forward.
Last fare well....  

 

 

KarunaKunj has Calcutta’s only graveyard for pets. It is always moving to visit the grounds, which hold so many cherished companions, and read the little poem in the Memorial to every loving pet. A recent –most unusual – pet, who was brought for his last farewell, was "CHOTU" a beautiful white cock. Mrs. Sharmishtha Ghosh brought her beloved pet to KarunaKunj on 24th June 2001. In a world where cocks and hen are egg-producing machines, to be used and eaten, this was an outstanding example of how humans can be enriched by animal/ bird relationships. Maybe we eat, wear, use, and torture for the sake of fashion…
Raju's new home....  

 

 

Raju is a blind bonnet monkey. No one knows his exact age, nor the duration of his stay in a 2'x2' cage at the Rescue Center of the West Bengal Wildlife Wing. The officials say he was found tied outside a shop about four years ago. He could not be released in the wild as he was blind. Raju's movements are fairly supple despite the lack of excersise opportunities in the past few years. Mr.Jogesh Chandra Barman, Minister for Forests & Wildlife, handed him over to the Trustees of the Compassionate Crusaders Trust on Thursday,13rd. September,2001. Raju was then taken to "Karuna Kunj", the rescue shelter run by the CCT in South 24 Parganas. The Trustees has requested that his keeper, Rambabu, accompany them to introduce Raju into his new home up in a tree. An 8' wide and 5' high, circular cage has been built around a tree near Karuna Kunj's aviary. The door of the transportation cage was placed before the open door of the tree house. Rambabau went to the other side and called out to Raju. Hearing his keeper call him, Raju moved forward tentatively and entered his new home without a hitch. After the first couple of steps, his hands touched the tree trunk in the center of the cage. A little wonderingly, Raju touched it with both hands. Then he leapt up the tree trunk and sat atop the fork with an expression of immense satisfaction. If blind eyes could shine, Raju's did. Ours couldn't shine either. They glittered with tears. Each of us felt blessed to be a part of that enchanted moment, when a dumb, blind monkey got the tree-t (treat) of his life !!

Issues on Animal Welfare fortnight  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Welfare Fortnight is "celebrated!!" each year in India between14th - 28th January. Despite the little and not-so-little victories, we have a long way to go. Opening the papers on 4th January 2002, I read about an 8 year old boy (not a goat, buffalo or cow) being sacrificed by a priest in Bijnor District. Superstition and fanaticism continue to flourish even amongst the educated and the so-called emancipated. People who claim to be true to their religion, ignore the basic tenets of every religion – compassion and good will for all. Preachers preach only what the "faithful" wish to hear. Short-term gain and personal gratification are the only goals left, it seems. Or, terrorism.

"To whom can I speak today?

The gentle man has perished.

The violent man has access to everybody,

The inequity that smites the land -

It has no end. There are no righteous men.

The world is surrendered to criminals."

This verse, written 4000 years ago in Egypt , is as applicable today. Apart from frantic fund raising, we’ve been as busy as beavers and felt a very human elation when results began to show. To mention some of the efforts which have borne fruit, the Central Board of Secondary Education banned live dissection at schools. Hopefully, the West Bengal Board will show a similar sense and sensibility. The sight of elephants roaming free of their shackles at Alipore Zoo, brings a lingering satisfaction. A few other species have also been shifted from solitary imprisonment in arid cages, to the far more conducive open enclosures - however inadequate they may be. More open enclosures and other improvements are in the pipeline. All this is the result of our Petition in Calcutta High Court, in November 1998, at the plight of Zoo animals in Kolkata. As a matter of fact, the 43-acre area is so pitifully inadequate for housing the large number of animals living there, that the only solution is to have an open air Safari Park in the outskirts of the city. This attractive scheme has many advantages for the urban and local people, and is in keeping with global attitudes and needs. The support given by Mr. D.C. Vajpai DGP continues unabated, and the Wildlife Act is being implemented with vigor. Turtles and Indian birds can no longer be sold openly with impunity. Mr. Jogesh Barman, our Forest Minister has stood staunchly by us, in our efforts for protecting animals. He showed exemplary discreation in pushing aside all bureaucratic objections, and asking us to create a facility for rescued bears and monkeys. Our silent demonstration against animal sacrifice at Kalighat, on Kalipuja 2000, sparked off enough sympathy to bring about a definite reduction in the number of sacrifices. The Dahkineswar Temple Board’s public statement also vindicated our stand. Puja committees joined PFA’s Hooghly unit to curtail animal sacrifice locally. Yes, there is, despite everything, a yearning in every heart, for the very same values we fear to practice. In little pockets of isolation, groups and individuals work quietly for a better world, a world worth bringing our children and their children into. The spirit of goodness is indomitable and survives against allodds. A little verse, like the one given below, can sprout positive vibes as we start each day:

"He drew a circle to shut me out,

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win;

We drew a circle that took him in.

 

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