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


Dog
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!

ENDS

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

ENDS

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.

ENDS

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.

END

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

Humane Society International/India joins with Lucknow Municipal Corporation to sterilize and vaccinate street dogs there

Humane Society International / India


HSI

LUCKNOW—Humane Society International/India have entered into a memorandum of understanding with Lucknow Municipal Corporation for an animal birth control project. The goal is to sterilize and vaccinate at least 15,000 dogs in Lucknow within a year. The program was formally launched today by Honorable Urban Development Minister Mr. Ashutosh Tandon in the presence of Honorable Mayor Smt Sanyukta Bhatia, Counselor, Shri Ram Kumar Verma, Municipal Commissioner, Dr. Indramani Tripathi and Joint Director (Animal Welfare), Dr. Arvind Kumar Rao.

The project will be carried out at the dog sterilization center developed by the LMC at Jarhara Indira Nagar LKO. The facility can house up to 50 dogs a day. A team of trained animal handlers will humanely catch street dogs and bring them to the center for sterilization and vaccination against rabies. After treatment, the dogs will be released at the same locations where they were picked up, in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

The team will track the progress of each dog and record related data using an HSI-created mobile application. The data will include a photograph, and the dog’s weight, color, breed, and spay/neuter date, capture and release dates and location.

In October 2019, HSI/India will conduct a population survey to determine the estimated density of street dogs in Lucknow.

Dr. Piyush Patel, program manager of dog management for HSI/India, says, “Managing dog populations and reducing human-dog conflicts is a need in urban India. It is laudable that the Lucknow Municipal Corporation is scientifically addressing this issue. Dr. Arvind Kumar Rao of the LMC has extended his full support to our team and has ensured that the infrastructure provided by LMC with complete logistical support is suitable to safeguard the dogs’ welfare during the project.”

HSI/India currently implements ABC projects in Dehradun, Nainital, Mussoorie (Uttarakhand), Vadodara (Gujarat) and Dindigul (Tamil Nadu).

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

Humane Society International / Global


CITES

GENEVA—A ban on international commercial trade in the Asian small-clawed otter has been agreed by an overwhelming majority by world leaders attending the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP18), being held in Geneva, Switzerland. Countries voted to list the Asian small-clawed otter on Appendix I, in addition to an earlier vote to also list the smooth-coated otter on Appendix I. Humane Society International/India and its global affiliate Humane Society International, part of one of the largest global animal protection charities in the world, welcomes the CITES uplisting as essential to the survival of these species.

Mark Simmonds, senior marine scientist at Humane Society International, said: “A wide variety of threats is adversely affecting the Asian small-clawed otter in the wild, such as habitat loss, pollution, and the fur trade, but increasingly it is persecution for the pet trade that is proving its downfall. This is the smallest and arguably the ‘cutest’ of all the otter species, and interest in them, fanned by photos and film on social media, means that a market for live pet animals has been swiftly growing in Asia. They are increasingly being seen in coffee shops in Japan and elsewhere where they are used as props to entice customers who share their experiences on social media platforms like Instagram, thus perpetuating the otter craze.

“With so much stacked against these otters, who are now classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, we are delighted that they will now benefit from this very welcome, precautionary agreement to give them the highest protection at CITES. The Appendix I listing effectively bans international trade for commercial purposes and removes one of the key threats that they face. This isn’t the end of the story however. We urgently need other complementary conservation initiatives to truly tackle the otter’s demise, and so we hope that this new CITES listing will act as a call to action. We commend India, Nepal, the Philippines and Bangladesh for bringing both the otter proposals forward, and all the countries and conservation organizations that supported them.”  

Sumanth Bindumadhav, HSI/India’s wildlife campaign manager who presented an intervention on the floor of CITES CoP on behalf of 24 other national and international non-profit organisations, said: “HSI/India has long highlighted the myriad threats faced by the small-clawed and smooth-coated otters, so we are delighted by these important CITES actions. Appendix I listings will send an important and timely warning, not least to online and social media audiences, that these are imperilled species and that trade in them is harmful to their welfare and their overall species survival. We hope that it will also lead to additional trade controls, enhanced scrutiny of captive-breeding operations, and aid enforcement, given the challenge in distinguishing between tropical Asian otter species once in trade.”

The decision needs to be ratified at the plenary session of the CITES conference on August 27/28th.

Media Contacts:

Shambhavi Tiwari, +91 8879834125 stiwari@hsi.org

Media contact at CITES CoP in Geneva: Sumanth Bindumadhav, +91 99808 72975 sbindumadhav@hsi.org

Humane Society International / India


DEHRADUN — Today Humane Society International/India launched “Abhay Sankalp,” a program dedicated to working with residential housing colonies to promote peaceful and harmonious coexistence between human beings and street dogs. The launch was attended by government officials of Dehradun Municipal Corporation and members of Uttarakhand’s legislative assembly. Residents of 70 housing societies from across Dehradun signed up to participate in the program.

Abhay Sankalp – Abhay Bano, Abhay Banao, is a program that works with resident welfare societies across the city to understand the concerns associated with street dogs and facilitate a better understanding of dog behaviour, dog bites, diseases such as rabies and other aspects of street dogs living in each neighbourhood. After signing up, the residential colonies will also pledge to work positively towards resolution of any issues related to people vis-a-vis dogs, in a respectful, participatory and humane way.

Vinay Shankar Pandey, Dehradun Municipal Commissioner, says, “Abhay Sankalp is a commendable effort towards promoting co-existence and human empathy for animals. With this effort, a positive atmosphere will be created to understand the behaviour of each other by re-establishing the long-term relationship of the dog, human beings and the love of humankind. I appreciate this innovative effort and send good wishes to the team.”

Rahul Sehgal, senior director for HSI’s Companion Animals & Engagement Program, says,

“Abhay Sankalp is the next logical long-term step in the process of making a peaceful environment for both people and dogs. It aims to provide accurate information to communities, but also works with communities to make humane decisions towards dogs that live in their areas. Our effort has laid the groundwork for meaningful participation from 70 societies, and we hope more will participate during the program.”

Shayam Sundar Chauhan, resident of Anshal Green Valley Society says, “Abhay Sankalp is a friendly approach for societies in Dehradun that spreads awareness regarding the laws on relocation of stray dogs. Adoption of Abhay Sankalp is the easiest way of living with stray dogs in societies. Hum abhay bane, abhay banae, bezubano ke liye.”*

HSI/India is also undertaking mass street dog sterilization and vaccination projects in Dehradun, Mussoorie, Nainital, Vadodara and Kodaikanal. Opting into Abhay Sankalp means that a community wants to ensure dog welfare by encouraging residents to feed them only in specific feeding spots, by not relocating street dogs and by being fully aware of the laws governing free-roaming street dogs.

*”Let us become fearless and make others fearless for innocent dogs who cannot speak.”

 

 

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

HSI/India will build capacity of government veterinary department if needed who will now carry this program forward

Humane Society International / India


MALAPPURAM—Humane Society International/India, on the completion of two years of its animal birth control (ABC) program at Malappuram in Kerala, has decided to hand over operations to the District Animal Husbandry Department and Jilla Panchayat.

Over the past two years, HSI/India’s dog management team has sterilized and vaccinated more than 2,700 dogs in Malappuram. In addition to sterilizing more than 70% of the dog population, HSI/India’s aim was to create healthy and safe coexistence between dogs and human beings. The team started work in early 2017 and has worked across regions of Poonani, Manjeri, Thenipalam,Tirur, Areekode and Chungathara.

Rahul Sehgal, senior director for HSI/India’s companion animals and engagement department, says, “HSI/India started the ABC program in Malappuram to curb dog culling and to deliver high quality spay and neuter. We initiated community engagement to highlight the importance of co-existence with these animals. Our team was supported wonderfully by the local administration and the Panchayats. The program ended on April 30, and the local administration has made arrangements to continue what we started and take it to the next level”.

Dr. Ayub, deputy director of the district animal husbandry office for Malappuram, says, “We are extremely happy at how the team has done the work so far and appreciate the leadership and skills in community work. In all the places where the HSI/India team has operated, they have managed to influence the public as well as the gram panchayats and community leaders into peaceful human – street dog coexistence. Also the work done during the Kerala floods and other rescue work are very commendable.”

In 2015 and 2016, Kerala came under scrutiny because of dog culling that was taking place across the state, a punishable offense under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It was during that time that the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India reiterated the illegality and cruelty of dog culling and ordered a stop to it, citing implementation of Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001.

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

 

Humane Society International / India


PATNA — Humane Society International/India has joined with Bihar’s Department of Animal Husbandry, People for Animals and local organization Jag Jagran Sansthan to urge devotees of the Gadhimai festival in Nepal not to transport or sacrifice animals during the event this year in November, consistent with the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

The quinquennial festival has long been considered the largest animal sacrifice festival in the world; hundreds of thousands of buffalo, goats, chickens and other animals are decapitated to placate Gadhimai, the goddess of power. Following campaigns by HSI/India and PFA at the last Gadhimai in 2014, there was an estimated 70 per cent reduction in animal sacrifice. In 2015 temple authorities declared a ban on future animal sacrifice. The public awareness drive seeks to ensure that news of the ban reaches the estimated 5 million devotees expected to attend the event.

In a joint effort spanning many months and multiple languages and dialects, the organisations are running street plays, radio advertisements, billboards, and utilising local celebrity support across key districts of Bihar via which the majority of devotees travel to Nepal for the Gadhimai festival.

Arkaprava Bhar, Humane Society International/India’s regional manager for East India, said: “The decision by the Gadhimai temple committee to end the animal sacrifice should spare the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent animals. But for it to have impact we now have the huge task of making sure that the millions of people heading to Gadhimai are made aware of the temple’s ruling, and bring flowers, sweets and fruit to offer to the goddess instead of buffalo and birds. We are extremely grateful to the Government of Bihar for supporting our efforts to spread the news that the transport of animals to Nepal for religious sacrifice is illegal, and that the temple has also declared an end to this bloodshed. We hope that by watching our street theatre, listening to our radio ads, and reading our education materials, we can save as many animals as possible from a terrible and needles fate.”

The awareness drive started in early March and is now in its second phase in Muzaffarpur, bringing street plays to districts including Darbhanga, Madhubani, Supaul and Kishangan. Similar initiatives will be conducted in other districts of Bihar until October. The Government of Uttar Pradesh also joined with HSI/India and PFA earlier this year at the Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest religious congregation, to make attendees aware of the Gadhimal festival ban on animal sacrifice.

In 2014 the Sashastra Seema Bal, the border force at the Indo-Nepal border, was increased to intercept those attempting to bring live animals for sacrifice, and in total more than 2,000 animals were confiscated.

Mr. Vinod Gunjial, director of Bihar’s Animal Husbandry Department said: “With guards at the Indian-Nepalese border, the movement of animals can be controlled. The practise of sacrifice is not only brutal but also is very stressful to watch. We hope that with all these measures, the awareness drive should leave a positive impact on devotees of Gadhimai.”

Facts:

  • The origins of Gadhimai are said to date back some 265 years when the founder of the Gadhimai temple, Bhagwan Chowdhary, had a dream that the goddess Gadhimai wanted blood in return for freeing him from prison, protecting him from evil, and promising prosperity and power. The goddess asked for a human sacrifice, but Chowdhary offered sacrifice of five animals instead, and this been repeated every five years since.
  • It is estimated that more than 500,000 animals including buffalo, goats, chickens and others were decapitated at Gadhimai in 2009, but in 2014 the numbers had reduced by 70 percent.
  • The Gadhimai temple committee’s 2015 ban on animal sacrifice at the temple was announced after rigorous negotiations with the Temple Trust members by Animal Welfare Network Nepal, PFA and HSI/India.
  • While the temple’s ban on animal sacrifice is limited to the slaughter of buffalo within the main temple arena (as the only area that comes under its jurisdiction), it has appealed top devotees to refrain from all animal sacrifice that also takes place outside of the arena.

Download images from Awareness Drive and Gadhimai 2014 here.

Media Contact: Sanjana Rao, +91 8897827214, srao@hsi.org

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