HSI/India and The Liana Trust are helping rural communities live in safe harmony with snakes

Humane Society International / India

Gerard Martin/The Liana Trust Russell’s viper snake

KARNATAKA—Radio telemetry to track snakes, the free distribution of solar lanterns and gum boots in rural Karnataka, along with local community awareness, are being used as part of a unique pilot project to tackle India’s huge snake bite problem. India is the snake bite capital of the world, with newly published research showing 58,000 human deaths every year, and up to a further 200,000 cases of life-changing morbidity such as limb amputations that can have devastating economic impacts on families affected. In addition to the human toll, snake persecution is a real conservation and welfare issue across India that sees many thousands of snakes needlessly killed every year.

Animal protection group Humane Society International/India and conservation initiative The Liana Trust are working together to help agricultural communities live in harmony with the Russell’s viper, among other venomous and non-venomous snakes with whom they share their rural landscape. The viper is the species responsible for the most snake bites in India. Human-snake conflict in India is far more significant than conflict with any other wild species in terms of loss of life, and yet rarely receives the attention that conflict with tigers, leopards, elephants or crocodiles does. Conflict with these mega-fauna account for around 1,000 deaths a year.

Sumanth Bindumadhav, wildlife campaign manager for HSI/India, said: “As snakes are often considered less charismatic than elephants and tigers, they receive relatively little attention in India, and citizens are generally not educated in snake safety. But the truth is there are many more lethal incidents involving snakes and people in India than any other creature, and snake persecution is extremely common, with thousands of snakes a year stoned to death or beaten with sticks and left to slowly die. The astonishing number of human deaths and life-changing injuries also has an enormous socio-economic impact because those most likely to be bitten are the main income earners in agricultural areas who are out working the land. If they lose their life or even a limb and cannot farm, it can mean their children are taken out of school and put to work, or families simply spiral into debt.

“So, our project in Karnataka is life-saving for all concerned, giving rural communities the knowledge and tools they need to live safely alongside these reptiles. We’re finding that people don’t actually wish harm on these snakes, they simply want to know where they are and how they behave so that they can avoid them and go about their business. Radio telemetry of venomous snakes helps us better understand their movements, ecology and behaviour, so that we’ll be able to give local people precise guidance in how to adapt behaviour to best live alongside their reptile neighbours.”

Working with a local community in Karnataka, HSI/India and The Liana Trust spring into action as soon as community members alert them to a Russell’s viper sighting, so that the snake can be retrieved, fitted with a transmitter and released in the same location with the community’s knowledge and support. Twenty four vipers so far are being tracked, allowing the HSI/India and TLT team to collect vital data about this little known snake that will be used to create a bespoke “snake safe” guide for people in the local area. Information such as what time of day they are most active, during what temperatures, and in what habitat, will be collated over a three year period to build a local profile of the Russell’s viper.

As well as field work to better understand the snakes, HSI/India and The Liana Trust are also employing practical measures to immediately help prevent bites, with the distribution of solar lanterns and gum boots. The majority of deaths from snake bites in India are in farmers and labourers who work bare-footed in the fields, or who venture out after dark to turn on the water pump motor to irrigate their land, because electricity in certain areas is only supplied at night. As 56% of India’s population (732 million people) is without indoor sanitation, venturing outside during the night to visit the latrine is also a prime time for snake bites for the whole family.

Community outreach and education also plays a critical part in the program, with local children participating in monthly snake safety lessons where the campaigners use films and slide-shows to teach them how to identify venomous snakes, how to play safe and what action to take if bitten. These are skills the children take back to their families.

Gerry Martin from The Liana Trust said: “Many people assume the area around their house or nearby will be safe and so they often step on a snake at night by accident simply because they can’t see them. By providing each household with a solar lantern, and ankle-high boots for the whole family, a significant proportion of these bites can be prevented. Snakes are a really important part of the local ecosystem, but they are killed in large numbers due mainly to fear and lack of knowledge. Even the Forest Department isn’t provided with proper training and so our project is working with officers to give them the humane snake handling skills they need. Snakes are often demonised in movies, and with the number of bite incidents it’s understandable that people are fearful. We aim to create a model district for snake bite management and mitigation in the state of Karnataka so it can be replicated in other regions as well and reduce human-snake conflict across India.”

Snake Conflict Mitigation Project facts

  • HSI/India and TLT have so far distributed 225 solar lanterns and 200 pairs of gum boots to the Karnataka community. In the second half of 2020 street plays and school wall painting projects will be conducted to further promote the message of how to safely live alongside snakes.
  • The project began in December 2018, with a pause of several months during COVID-19 lockdown, meaning the project has just over one full year of data so far.
  • In 2019, the World Health Organisation launched its strategy for the prevention and control of snake bites, aiming to halve the number of deaths and serious disabilities by 2030.
  • Bites by venomous snakes usually kill by shock, paralysis, haemorrhage or acute kidney injury. Contrary to popular belief, attempting to suck out the venom doesn’t work. If bitten, physical restrictions like jewellery should be removed as these cause concentration of venom in one part of the body, increasing the chances of amputation. The limb should be immobilised and immediate medical assistance sought. Noting down symptoms for immediate delivery to a doctor can dramatically decrease treatment times.
  • Research suggests that there were 1.2 million snake bite deaths in India during the 20-year period 2000 to 2019.

Download images here  


Media contacts:

Humane Society International/India and People for Animals welcome “major turning point” in campaign to end dog meat cruelty

Humane Society International / India

Alokparna Sengupta/HSI Dogs tied up in sacks for the dog meat trade in Nagaland, India. 2015

NEW DELHI—In a landmark decision, India’s Government of the state of Nagaland has ended the brutal dog meat trade. The decision announced today by the cabinet will end the import, trade and sale of live dogs and dog meat. Humane Society International/India and People for Animals have campaigned for years to end India’s dog meat trade, and welcome this decision as a major turning point in ending the cruelty of India’s hidden dog meat trade.  HSI/India estimates that around 30,000 dogs a year are smuggled into Nagaland where they are sold in live markets and beaten to death with wooden clubs.

HSI/India’s campaign to end the dog meat trade was launched in 2016 with an investigation revealing shocking video footage of dog meat death pits in Nagaland. Dogs were seen being clubbed to death in front of each other, beaten multiple times in protracted and painful deaths. Most dogs were beaten several times before dying. Download footage.

Alokparna Sengupta, HSI/India’s managing director, said: “The suffering of dogs in Nagaland has long cast a dark shadow over India, and so this news marks a major turning point in ending the cruelty of India’s hidden dog meat trade.  Our own investigation in Nagaland showed terrified dogs being subjected to horrific deaths in some of the worst inhumanity to animals HSI/India has ever witnessed. And the dogs we have rescued from this trade over the years have had to learn to trust humans again after the cruel treatment they endured.”

Dog meat consumption is prohibited in India through the Food Safety and Standard (Food Products Standard and Additives) Regulation, 2011. However, this is poorly enforced, and in the states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, thousands of dogs each year are illegally captured from the streets or stolen from homes, and cruelly transported from neighbouring states in gunny bags to be brutally slaughtered for consumption by being beaten to death.

Earlier this week, Indian Member of Parliament Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi made an urgent public appeal to urge the Government of Nagaland to stop the trade and consumption of dog meat after receiving new photographs of the trade from a Nagaland-based animal protection organization. The appeal led to more than 125,000 people writing to the Nagaland Government.

HSI/India’s Sengupta continued “We warmly thank Smt. Maneka Gandhi for her leadership and the vital impetus she has provided in achieving this decision from the Government of Nagaland so quickly after the latest evidence emerged. We also congratulate the Government of Nagaland and offer our support so that this decision can be robustly implemented. The Government of Nagaland has shown great leadership and we urge other states such as Mizoram, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh to follow by implementing a dog meat trade ban too.”

The Government of Nagaland is considering how to allot land to accommodate dogs rescued from the trade, and to promote the adoption of these dogs. HSI/India, which has rescued more than 150 dogs from the dog meat trade, will work with PFA and the state government to support adoption and implement the practical mechanisms needed to enforce the new order and end the dog meat trade.

HSI/India’s campaign is part of HSI’s broader campaign to end the dog meat trade across Asia in countries including South Korea, China, Indonesia and Vietnam.


Media Contact: Shambhavi Tiwari, HSI/India media manager: stiwari@hsi.org

Human – wildlife conflict in India often leads to animals maimed and killed

Humane Society International / India

Arindam Bhattacharya/Alamy Stock Photo

Malappuram, India—Animal charity Humane Society International/India is offering a reward of up to 50,000 IN rupees in Malappuram district of Kerala, for information leading to the positive identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible for the killing of a pregnant elephant who ate a fire cracker believed to have been stuffed in a pineapple or other food item. She suffered catastrophic facial injuries and a slow, painful death.

Police reports show that the incident is believed to have occurred on 27 May when the elephant ate a firecracker-filled pineapple that was originally intended as a snare to catch wild boar. When the firecracker exploded in her mouth, the elephant is reported to have stood for a significant time in the Velliyar River with her trunk in the water, presumably for pain relief.

Following the incident, the Rapid Response Team of the Kerala Forest Department rushed to the scene to attempt a rescue but the elephant succumbed to her injuries. A post mortem revealed that the cause of death was asphyxia as a result of water entering her lungs and trachea.

Sumanth Bindumadhav, wildlife campaign manager for HSI/India said “Regrettably in India, human conflict with wild animals such as wild boars and elephants is a common problem, and often these animals can be maimed or killed by local communities experiencing crop damage and other issues. We don’t yet know if the firecracker-pineapple was maliciously fed to the elephant, or if it was a tragic accident, but whether the intended victim was a boar or an elephant, tragic incidents like this demonstrate the urgent need for better and humane ways to manage wildlife. Community education coupled with the introduction of crop insurance schemes would also safeguard the interests of people as well as the welfare of animals. We hope that by offering a reward for information, those responsible can be apprehended and a strong message will be sent out that treating wildlife in this way is unacceptable.”

Human-wildlife conflict is an unfortunate consequence of increasing fragmentation of wildlife habitats and a growing intolerance to living alongside wild animals in several parts of India. However, sustainable conflict preparedness and management planning methods need to be employed by the forest departments of all states, without which, some citizens choose to take matters into their own hands leading to animal cruelty.

Download video from the scene.


Media Contact: Shambhavi Tiwari, stiwari@hsi.org, +91 8879834125

40 million dogs and cats killed annually despite rabies risk

Humane Society International / Global

Hoang Xuan Thuy Live dogs being sold by a dog trader in Vietnam May 2020

WASHINGTON—Animal protection groups from around the world have joined forces to urge governments across Asia to act urgently to permanently shut down unsanitary and brutal dog and cat meat markets and trades, amid growing global concern about zoonotic diseases and public health danger zones. Member organisations from the Asia for Animals coalition, including Humane Society International, FOUR PAWS International and Change for Animals Foundation, say the dog and cat meat trades pose a serious danger from the deadly rabies virus and other notifiable diseases, such as cholera, with dogs and cats often traded and slaughtered in the very same wildlife markets as wild animals who are the focus of COVID-19 concern.

Download video & photos (taken April, May 2020) of dogs on sale at markets in China, Vietnam and Indonesia.

An estimated 30 million dogs and 10 million cats are killed every year for the meat trade, mainly in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, India, and Laos. Most of this trade is in dogs and cats stolen from homes and back yards, as well as owned and roaming dogs snatched from the streets, with well-established links to the spread of rabies, cholera and trichinosis.

Kelly O’Meara, vice president of companion animals at Humane Society International, said: “Across the globe, nations are united in a collective response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, including calls to close wildlife markets that can act as a petri dish for zoonotic diseases. Within that context, it is only responsible for governments across Asia to also tackle the dog and cat meat trades that, while not connected to COVID-19, undoubtedly pose their own significant human health risks, such as the spread of trichinosis, cholera and rabies that kill tens of thousands of people every year. With hundreds of dogs at a time crammed onto trucks and driven across provincial and even international borders to filthy slaughterhouses and markets where these highly stressed animals are then displayed and slaughtered alongside myriad wild and domestic species, it’s easy to see how this trade is not only utterly brutal, but also the perfect breeding ground for the next serious public health disaster. New pathogens could jump to humans in a number of ways – a dog trader wounded during the day’s slaughter, a local consumer eating cross-contaminated dog meat bought at a nearly stall, or a tourist breathing in microscopic blood droplets as they sight-see in the market. This is no time for complacency or turning a blind eye; the dog and cat meat trades need to be shut down with urgency.”

The rabies virus has been found in brain specimens of dogs traded for human consumption in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Not only is there a risk in handling the dogs, and in the extremely unsanitary slaughter and butchery process, but there is also some reason for concern surrounding consumption itself, likely through contamination due to unhygienic conditions. The cholera bacterium has also been found in samples of dog meat, equipment and waste-water released from slaughterhouses in Hanoi, Vietnam. There have also been historical reports in Vietnam and the Philippines of patients with signs of rabies infection who had been involved in preparing and eating dogs and cats who may have been infected.

In a statement to the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed, “There are reports that dog-meat markets have a higher rate of rabies than the general dog population, as people often sell dogs to the markets when they act sick; some of these sick dogs have rabies.… Furthermore, there are at least three published reports of humans acquiring rabies from activities associated with the dog meat market, emphasizing that the risk is very real.”  

In many countries, the trade in dogs and cats for meat is largely fueled by criminal activity. Lola Webber, from the Change for Animals Foundation, says: “The dog and cat meat trades in Indonesia rely on criminal activity and there is increasing frustration among pet owners at the lack of action by law enforcement to deter or punish armed thieves who terrorise neighbourhoods and steal people’s dogs and cats. Once stolen, the animals are sold to slaughterhouses, markets and restaurants, kept in squalid conditions often alongside many other species of animals from various sources. The slaughter of dogs and cats is brutal, they are bludgeoned in the streets and then blowtorched, often whilst still alive. The streets are covered in pools of blood and the remains of other slaughtered animals. The cruelty alone is horrifying, but the risk of disease transmission is huge for anyone trading, slaughtering, butchering or even visiting these live animal markets. The Indonesian Government pledged it would ban the trade in August 2018, but we’ve seen very little commitment for action from provincial or central government. If COVID-19 isn’t a wake-up call, I don’t know what will be. If you told me tomorrow that there was a disease outbreak originating in one of the markets in North Sulawesi, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised, and with the number of tourists visiting these places, the result could be terrifying.”

In Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and parts of India, it is not unusual to see dogs and cats sold and slaughtered alongside other species including wildlife such as bats, snakes and rats, as well as other animals such as chickens and ducks. With growing global concern regarding the emergence of novel and deadly viruses from markets where multiple species are sold, the campaign groups are urging governments to take action. These markets provide an ideal environment for viral recombination and transmission between species, with potentially deadly results.

Cambodia’s government is being urged to publicly dispel myths that dog meat has medicinal benefits, including the belief it can ward off viruses including the one that causes COVID-19. Veterinarian Katherine Polak with FOUR PAWS in Southeast Asia, says: “The proliferation of completely unfounded, unscientific misinformation about dog meat is really worrying, with physicians even recommending dog meat to patients to treat various ailments. While we completely appreciate that cultures and habits are not easily changed, the government has a responsibility to safeguard the health of the nation as well as comply with global animal welfare standards. In Cambodia, dogs are being bludgeoned and drowned in fetid drowning pits, with total disregard for rabies which is endemic across Asia, while the government continues to do very little to protect people or animals.

 Asia overview

  • Vietnam: An estimated 5 million dogs and 1 million cats are killed every year despite laws and regulations being in place to make it illegal. Implementation is extremely poor, with traders having a total disregard for law enforcement. In 2018, Hanoi government officials called for an end to the dog meat industry, citing health and public image concerns. A pledge to phase out the slaughtering and trading of dogs for meat by 2021 is yet to be actioned, but a nationwide crackdown is needed to avoid the trade simply shifting elsewhere.
  • India: The cruel transport and slaughter of dogs violates several provisions of India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the consumption of dogs is illegal under the Food Safety and Standard Regulations in India, and yet in the north-eastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and others, an estimated ten thousand dogs a year continue to be brutally bludgeoned to death in ‘killing pits’. Dogs are also smuggled from across Assam, West Bengal within India and Bangladesh and Myanmar from outside of India.
  • Indonesia: An estimated 2 million dogs and significant number of cats are killed a year, with many hotspots trading tens of thousands of dogs every month. In addition to slaughterhouses and dog meat-selling restaurants operating throughout most provinces of Indonesia, in dog meat-eating hotspots such as North Sulawesi, live dogs and cats are sold and slaughtered in live animal markets, where conditions are incredibly unsanitary, and domestic and wildlife animals and meats are sold alongside each other. The Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition has conducted nationwide investigations documenting the inherent cruelty, illegality and dangers of the dog and cat meat trades.
  • China: An estimated 10+ million dogs and 4 million cats are killed for the meat trade annually, the vast majority of whom are stolen pets. There is no nationwide animal protection legislation in China, however in recent weeks the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai have introduced city-wide bans on dog and cat meat consumption, and the national government also publicly stated that dogs are considered companions not livestock. This distinction could inspire other cities in mainland China to follow this lead and introduce bans.
  • South Korea: Up to 2 million dogs a year are intensively reared on farms, without veterinary treatment or basic welfare such as water provision. Humane Society International works co-operatively with the growing number of dog farmers seeking an exit from the trade, to close dog farms and rescue dogs. Many dogs HSI encounters on these farms are former pets abandoned at the farm gates, or dogs originally bred for the pet trade.
  • Cambodia: Up to 3 million dogs are killed each year in the Kingdom, with an unknown number exported into Vietnam for consumption. According to a market research study conducted by FOUR PAWS, a total of 53.6% of respondents indicated that they have eaten dog meat at some time in their lives (72.4% of men and 34.8% of women), however the practice remains controversial among Khmer people. Supplying the demand, dogs are routinely snatched from the streets, stolen from homes, or traded for aluminium pots and pans and trafficked across the country to slaughterhouses and restaurants. There are more than 100 dog meat restaurants in the capital city of Phnom Penh alone, most having opened in the last 2-3 years.
  • Lao PDR: The consumption of dogs in Laos remains relatively undocumented. However, reports of theft and trafficking of dogs for consumption are common. Laos lacks any animal welfare laws, including those that would prohibit killing dogs for consumption.

Download video & photos (taken April, May 2020) of dogs on sale at markets in China, Vietnam and Indonesia.


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Director of International Media: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Global

HSI HSI/India responds to the COVID-19 pandemic in Lucknow, India.

Update, March 2022: Read a report about the global impact of the HSI-Mars partnership on animals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

WASHINGTON— Family-owned Mars, Incorporated has donated $1 million to animal welfare organization Humane Society International for its global companion animal programs. The donation is a part of Mars’ initial $20 million cash and in-kind donations to aid communities across the globe during the COVID-19 crisis. HSI will use the funds in targeted countries to help keep companion animals in their homes, to assist shelters taking in abandoned or surrendered animals, and to provide for street dogs and cats who are not able to be fed by their communities during this time.

“We are incredibly grateful to Mars for this generous donation, which recognizes that our companion animals are a vital part of our families,” said HSI President Jeffrey Flocken. “They are a source of comfort and unwavering affection, particularly in difficult times. As the world struggles with this pandemic, these critically needed funds will directly help dogs and cats who are suffering as a result of the coronavirus crisis, be it starving dogs on the streets in India, Chile and elsewhere, or shelters in need of vital supplies in South Africa and beyond.”

“It’s vital that businesses like ours do our part to ensure the continued health and well-being of the people, pets and communities most affected by COVID-19, which is why Mars Incorporated has committed $20 million in relief to vulnerable populations across the world,” said Poul Weihrauch, President, Mars Global Petcare. For those of us fortunate enough to have animals in our lives, the companionship, love and comfort they bring has probably never felt more important. That’s why we are pleased to provide $1 million in support to HSI, an organization dedicated to providing critical support to the millions of vulnerable pets across the world.”

HSI is strategically deploying the grant to provide the greatest impact for animals at risk or suffering as a result of this global crisis. Recognizing that each country is experiencing the effects of the pandemic on a different timeline and faces different animal welfare needs, the relief effort will be conducted in phases. Phase 1 will focus on the most urgent needs in eight geographic areas:  Chile, China, Guyana, India, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and the Middle East region. HSI already has a presence and/or existing relationships with local organizations and governments in these locations, which will help to maximize the campaign’s impact.

The range of work will include:

  • Assisting residents to enable them to keep their animals at home;
  • Helping shelters that face shortages of food and supplies while dealing with increased numbers of animals surrendered or abandoned by owners who can longer care for them;
  • Tending to community animals who have lost their usual sources of food and medical care as a result of lockdown policies;
  • Working with governments to ensure companion animals are incorporated into pandemic emergency plans by designating veterinary services as essential and allowing advocates to rescue animals in need during lockdowns; and
  • Promoting accurate and useful information about appropriate animal welfare for cats and dogs during the pandemic.

HSI estimates that Phase 1 will help more than 20,000 animals. Subsequent phases of the campaign will be determined as the crisis spreads to new areas or intensifies in current areas, and the needs shift.

An additional component of the campaign involves engaging Mars Associates through volunteer opportunities to make a tangible difference for dogs and cats affected by the pandemic. Opportunities include reaching out to local shelters to offer assistance, encouraging their networks to adopt and foster shelter animals, and virtual engagement and support of the Mars-HSI initiative to help animals in need during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are immensely proud to work with Mars on this effort,” said Flocken. “Mars’ commitment to animals and the people who love and care for them has never been more evident than it is now, during this unprecedented time.”

Download photos and video of animals affected by the pandemic.


Nancy Hwa, Humane Society International, nhwa@hsi.org, 202-596-0808
Kimberly West, Mars, Incorporated, Director of External Communications, Kimberly.west@effem.com.


HSI and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programs. hsi.org and @hsiglobal.

Humane Society International/India urges Government of Mizoram to end dog meat trade and promote a more plant-based diet to its citizens

Humane Society International / India

Nagaland dog meat trade
Alokparna Sengupta/HSI

Mizoram, India — Mizoram, India has taken the first step towards ending its dog meat trade, by amending the law to remove dogs from the definition of animals suitable for slaughter. In a move welcomed by Humane Society International/India, the Mizoram Legislative Assembly unanimously passed the Animal Slaughter Bill 2020. HSI/India now urges the Government of Mizoram to end the cruel and illegal dog meat trade.

The consumption of dogs is prohibited under India’s food safety regulations. However, this is poorly enforced and thousands of dogs each year are illegally captured from the streets or stolen from their homes, stuffed into gunny bags with their mouth stitched or tied, and transported over many days to Mizoram districts such as Aizawl. There have even been reports of dogs transported from neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Bangladesh. The cruel transport and slaughter of dogs violates several provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the Indian Penal Code, and Food Safety and Standard Authority (FSSAI) regulations.

HSI/India, a former member of the State Animal Welfare Board of Mizoram, has been working to end the dog meat trade in Mizoram since 2016, including helping to rescue more than 150 dogs from the brutal trade.

Alokparna Sengupta, managing director, HSI/India said, “This is a very welcome and much-needed move by the Legislative Assembly to remove dogs from the definition of animals for slaughter. We hope that this law will now ensure an end to dog slaughter in Mizoram, but in order to shut down the trade completely, we urge the Government of Mizoram to take action to ban the sale and consumption of dog meat too. This comes at a time when the world is facing a pandemic believed to have been caused by the trade in wild animals for consumption. In Mizoram we have witnessed dogs and other animals being transported and slaughtered in horrific conditions, violating India’s health regulations. So in addition to raising awareness about the illegality of slaughtering dogs for meat, we urge the government to proactively promote the human health benefits of moving towards a more plant–based diet, and reducing and replacing the consumption of all animals.”

Around 30 million dogs and 10 million cats a year are killed across Asia for human consumption, with the trade most widespread in China, South Korea, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and parts of northern India. However, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore have dog meat bans in place.

HSI is one of the leading organizations in the world working to end the cruel dog meat trade. Public education about the cruelty involved plays a key part of the strategy, and support from local governments and communities can also play a significant role in ending the misery these dogs endure in the dog meat trade.

Download photos and video of Mizoram’s dog meat trade here: https://newsroom.humanesociety.org/fetcher/index.php?searchMerlin=1&searchBrightcove=1&submitted=1&mw=d&q=IndiaDogMeat0320


Media contact:  Shambhavi Tiwari, stiwari@hsi.org, +91-8879834125

Humane Society International / India

Sue Mack

HYDERABAD—With the Holi festival around the corner on 9/10th March, festive spirits are high and many people are ready to revel in the burst of colours. Unfortunately, the rainbow of coloured powder or gulal that is traditionally used to celebrate Holi can pose a risk to our pets and street animals who can become stressed or frightened by being sprayed or rubbed with the dyed powder, and even suffer health consequences.

Alokparna Sengupta, Humane Society International/India’s interim executive director, says: “Holi festival celebrations can be a vibrant spectacle of colour for people, but a distressing ordeal for pets and street animals forcibly sprayed or rubbed with dyed powders. By respecting the animals around us and leaving them in peace, everyone participating in the Holi festival can have fun with fairness to our animal friends.”

HSI/India’s top tips to give animals a happy Holi!

 Children and animals: Children are understandably excited at the sight of Holi colours and the splashing water. To avoid their excitement causing animals distress, use Holi as an opportunity to teach children about respect and kindness to animals. By taking the time to explain to children that dogs and other animals can easily be frightened, and discouraging the throwing of water balloons and paint, they can learn that their fun shouldn’t be unfair to animals. Street dogs are the most common victims of the toxic colours during the festival, so teach children that no animal, including street dogs, should be hurt during the festival.

As responsible animal guardians, we can also play our part by avoiding taking our dogs to places that are likely to be the focus of Holi activity. When dogs are afraid and anxious to escape, they may end up injuring themselves or those around them, so being fair with fun keeps everyone safe.

Walk your dog before celebrations begin: To avoid potentially stressful encounters, walk your dog early in the morning on the day of Holi before the festivities begin, and ensure your pets are kept safely indoors during the celebrations. Provide them with food, water, their favourite toy and a comfortable place to rest, so that they can retreat from the noise outside if they wish. This will also prevent children from startling or irritating them.

 Don’t colour animals: Animals don’t enjoy being covered with coloured water or powder, and it has the potential to harm them. The colours typically used to play Holi are synthetic dyes containing ingredients that are potentially toxic and can lead to skin allergies and even blindness in humans and animals. The dry powder which is often mistakenly thought to be safe to be used on pets contains lead which can build up in the body as a poison. Inhaling the powder may cause nasal irritation, and even respiratory infection. Dogs and other animals also tend to lick their body to clean themselves, unwittingly ingesting the Holi colours and very often this becomes the chief source of poisoning.

Remove colours with mild shampoos: If your pet does become dyed with Holi colours, gently wash them with a mild dog/pet shampoo. Never use kerosene or spirits to remove colours or hard paints off your dog’s coat. If the dog has been hit in the face with a water balloon or colours have entered their eyes, nose or mouth and been ingested, carefully and thoroughly wash the affected areas with clean water, and take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible to get checked over.

 Watch out for warning signs of poisoning: Symptoms of poisoning can include excessive salivation, vomiting, loose motions, and behavioural changes like aggression or stupor in your pet. If you observe any of these signs, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Bringing the suspected source of poisoning (colour) will help the vet take the most appropriate remedial action.

 Sensitize your community: Request your community secretary and building managers to put up an advisory asking occupants to keep pets indoors during celebrations and not to throw water or colours at street animals.

Don’t feed sweets to your pets: Eating sweets and sugar can cause serious digestive illness in dogs and other animals, even resulting in seizures in some cases. Be vigilant around your companion animals to make sure your guests or children do not offer sweets to your pet. Similarly, fried or high-calorie foods can also cause animals digestive upset so make sure if you give your pet a Holi treat, it’s suitable for animals!


Media contact: Shambhavi Tiwari, stiwari@hsi.org, +91-8879834125

Indonesia, India, Vietnam among countries where wild animal markets pose a disease risk

Humane Society International / Global

Masked man in Hong Kong market
Jayne Russell/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

WASHINGTON —Wildlife campaigners across the globe from animal charity Humane Society International have called for an urgent worldwide ban on the wildlife trade after China’s announcement that it will prohibit the buying and selling of wild animals for food in light of the mounting threat associated with coronavirus. The capture, market trade, and butchery of wild animal species for human consumption happens across large parts of Asia and Africa such as Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and West, Central and East Africa, as well as in Latin America, says HSI, posing a very real threat of spreading zoonotic and potentially fatal diseases. Governments around the world must take China’s lead and shut down this trade for good. HSI leadership in South Africa, Nepal, India, South Korea, Canada, the United States, Australia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica have joined the call for global action.

Jeffrey Flocken, HSI president, says: “China has taken decisive action to halt the wildlife trade for human consumption implicated in the global coronavirus crisis, but it would be a grave mistake for us to think that the threat is isolated to China. The capture and consumption of wild animals is a global trade that causes immense suffering for hundreds of thousands of animals every year, including endangered wildlife species being traded to the brink of extinction. The trade can also spawn global health crises like the current coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and the deadly bird flu. Wildlife markets across the globe, but particularly in Asia and Africa, are widespread and could easily be the start of disease outbreaks in the future.”

In the north eastern states of India, wild species such as the Chinese pangolin and several species of wild birds are routinely sold for human consumption. Bengal monitor lizard meat is also consumed across India, driven mainly by the superstitious belief that the fat stored in the tail can cure arthritis, and meat from the Indian flap-shell turtle is also popular across the country, despite both species being listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. In some north Indian states, owl eyes are also consumed for their perceived medicinal benefits for human vision.

Indonesia also has hundreds of “extreme” animal markets where the conditions are the same as those described by scientists as the perfect breeding ground for new and deadly zoonotic viruses, such as coronaviruses. Wild animals are sold and slaughtered in public and unsanitary conditions. The trade takes place alongside that of dogs and cats which itself has already been shown to pose a risk of rabies transmission. In January this year, Humane Society International wrote to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo as part of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, calling for urgent measures to ensure that Indonesia does not become the next point of origin of a deadly virus by tackling the risk posed by these animal markets.

Mr. Flocken adds: “We already know that dog and cat meat markets in Indonesia are a hotbed for disease transmission, and we also know from our investigations that rabies-positive dogs are being sold and slaughtered for consumption in these markets. Given that dogs are caged and slaughtered alongside wild animals such as snakes, bats and rats, Indonesia must surely take preventative measures now to ensure it does not become the next point of origin of a deadly virus. Similar risks can be observed in wild animal markets across the globe and especially in Asia and Africa. The trade in wildlife is a global crisis that calls for global action, now.”

Wild meat consumption is also an issue in Vietnam where wild pig, goat and bird species are eaten as well as softshell turtle, bear, snake, pangolin and civet, and snake wine is also consumed. A number of studies conducted in recent years reveal that a significant percentage of the Vietnamese population consumes wild animals.

Bush meat, including that derived from primates, is still consumed in many parts of Africa. Earlier this month, the Tanzanian government endorsed the establishment of butcheries specifically for the bushmeat trade. And in South Africa, approximately 12,000 lions are captive bred in deplorable conditions, to facilitate the export of lion skeletons to Southeast Asia for tiger bone wine. Lions are hosts for the tuberculosis (TB) virus, which can survive in bones ground to powder.

In Guatemala and El Salvador, meat from crocodile, iguana and other reptiles is often eaten during Lent despite it being illegal to do so.

This week, the National People’s Congress, the Chinese national legislature, elevated an originally temporary ban on wildlife trade for human consumption from an administrative action to the level of a national law. Specifically, the announcement, issued as an emergency measure, creates a comprehensive ban on the trade in terrestrial wild animals bought and sold for food, including those who are bred or reared in captivity.

Download video footage of Indonesia’s wild animal and dog/cat meat markets here: https://www.dropbox.com/home/Indonesia%20Extreme%20Markets


Media contact: Wendy Higgins whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Global

Arindam Bhattacharya/Alamy Stock Photo An Asian elephant (elephas maximus) eats grass in Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

Gandhinagar — Representatives from more than 130 nations agreed to vital protections for migratory wild species at what’s being hailed as a landmark wildlife convention in Gandhinagar, India. Delegates agreed to increased or first-time conservation protection status for the endangered Mainland Asian elephant, the critically endangered great Indian bustard and Bengal florican, the jaguar, the oceanic whitetip shark, smooth hammerhead and tope shark.  The circumstances of all of these species, require multi-nation conservation co-operation because their ranges traverse country boundaries.

Sixty percent of Mainland Asian elephants are found in India, and the species has been listed as Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1986, a victim of habitat loss and increasing human/elephant conflict. The great Indian bustard, whose population has dwindled to around 150 individuals in India, is persecuted by hunting in Pakistan, and the Bengal florican has a population of less than 1000 birds, struggling to survive amidst habitat loss in India and Nepal.

Mark Simmonds OBE, senior marine scientist at Humane Society International, said: “With estimates of up to one million species at risk of extinction right now, nations have a shared responsibility to act, especially in the case of migratory species. Species such as the Asian elephant and hammerhead shark are in desperate need of attention and cooperation from the countries through which they roam, mate, give birth or feed. This truly is proving to be a landmark wildlife convention because we’ve successfully secured increased conservation protection status for many species and we can now set to work on concrete measures to protect them and their habitats.  

The Asian elephant is endangered throughout much of its range, trying to survive in continually shrinking, degraded and fragmented habitat, and increasingly coming into conflict with people. Its protection will be vastly improved if range countries work together to tackle these challenges, and inclusion in CMS Appendix I will significantly aid that.”

Rebecca Regnery, Humane Society International’s deputy director of wildlife, said: “The jaguar, the largest native cat of the Americas, is now absent from more than 77% of its historic range in Central America. Despite protection in all its range states, the jaguar is threatened by illegal killing and trade.  Listing on CMS will formalize range state collaboration on conservation efforts, creating an international legal framework for the first time. This will provide increased incentives and funding opportunities for this work, which is critical for curbing habitat destruction, maintaining key migration corridors and reducing violence and human deaths associated with retaliation and trafficking.”

Lawrence Chlebeck, marine biologist with HSI Australia, said, “This is a fantastic success for international shark conservation efforts. Three of the shark species hardest hit by commercial fishing will, from today, receive brand new international attention and coordination. Sharks are especially susceptible to population decline due to late maturation and low reproductive potential, and they are therefore some of the most threatened animals on our planet. International, cooperative conservation measures, such as those that will result from these listings, are absolutely vital to the ecological viability and survival of these species.”

Summary of key decisions today at CMS CoP 13

  • Mainland Asian elephant/Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) added to Appendix I
  • Great Indian bustard and Bengal florican added to Appendix I
  • The jaguar (Panthera onca) added to Appendices I and II
  • The antipodean albatross (Diomedea antipodensis) added to Appendix I
  • Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) added in Appendix I
  • Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) added to Appendix II
  • Tope shark (Galeorhinus galeus) added to Appendix II.

These decisions have been made in the convention’s ‘Meeting in the Whole’ and are subject to formal verification in the closing plenary of the CoP on 22nd February. However, as they have been agreed by consensus, this is now a formality.


Media contact: Wendy Higgins whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International / India

HSI Satish Patel (third from the right), Municipal Commissioner, was impressed by HSI/India’s spay neuter protocol and sought a proposal to start an animal birth control project in the city.

JAMNAGAR — Humane Society International/India, under its community driven program “Abhay Sankalp,” conducted its second two-week long sterilization and vaccination camp for street dogs in Gokul Nagar. The drive was supported by partner, MP Shah Family, and Municipal Commissioner Satish Patel. Residents and community volunteers from the Ayodhya Nagar, Ramnagar and Murlidhar societies participated in the camp.

Abhay Sankalp is a community-driven campaign to stabilize street dog populations and foster a positive long-term relationship between the dogs and local residents. HSI/India provided experienced vets, trained animal welfare officers, a surgery van with essential tools and medicines, and another van for transporting dogs for treatment.

Ninety-eight street dogs were successfully sterilized and vaccinated and then returned to their original location. In addition, five residents brought their pet dogs to the drive for care. The community engagement team is working to ensure that all of the treated street dogs are taken care of and fed by their communities.

Keren Nazareth, interim director for HSI/India’s companion animals program, says,” Jamnagar is the first city in India where the Abhay Sankalp campaign is leading community-based animal sterilization. This is a unique initiative which can only be taken forward with the full support of the municipal corporation and its people.”

Ramesh Bhai, a resident of Gokul Nagar, says, “We want to keep all dogs healthy in our society, and to do that, proper sterilization and vaccination is necessary. By participating in this camp, we aim to promote peaceful co-existence between humans and dogs and to make our society rabies free.”

Ashokbhai Shah of MP Shah Family states, “I’m glad that the joint efforts by MP Shah Family and HSI/India have connected so many people to issues related to dogs. It’s amazing to see residents helping the team catch dogs and making the camp their own by contributing in one way or the other. We urge the Jamnagar Municipal Corporation to begin a full-fledged sterilization program for a greater impact.”

Since its launch in October 2018, Abhay Sankalp has been working with neighborhoods across the city to understand their concerns regarding street dogs and facilitate a better understanding of rabies, dog behavior and other aspects of street dogs living in each neighborhood. Over 108 residential societies have signed up with Abhay Sankalp to promote harmonious coexistence between street dogs and people. The program also operates in Vadodara, Dehradun and Lucknow.


Media Contact: Uma Biswas, +91 8758807223, ubiswas@hsi.org

Learn More Button Inserter