One organization ran a campaign for many years on saving bears in India. They held their staff meetings all over the globe. They dropped into India six times a year to see the “bear situation”. They hired consultants from Australia and Argentina. No money came to India. I complained to their country’s Charity Commission and it was discovered that the fine print said that the organization could do what they wanted with the donated money ! Finally , the head of the organization was investigated and removed. A little money was sent to us and a small bear sanctuary was built.
Another horsecare organization came to India to save horses after running a campaign abroad on how badly Indian horses were treated . They brought money , gave it to a lawyer who bought a house and car with it and disappeared. Now they teach about five farriers a year on how to show horses and that’s it. Someone who did a lot of work for horses in Ladakh applied to them for help. They refused.But their international campaign for money goes on .
Yet another organization came in to keep donkeys. In ten years , they have kept 70 donkeys in their enclosure, treat another 50. They come in from Europe at least once a month for 3 days at a time in five star hotels to check whether their Indian doctors are working. They have spent more than fifty times the money on their travel than on Indian donkeys. They have come in 7 times to inspect Gwalior to see whether they can treat donkeys there or not. The decision has still not been made.
The tsunami was a great milch cow. Foreign organisations collected so much on our name and sent dribs and drabs that were meaningless – simply to feed animals that were rescued. No permanent solutions.
I saw an advertisement some years ago in an international magazine asking for money to save India’s snow leopards. I have never heard of this organization and I can’t figure out how you save a snow leopard with money.
Recently an elephant polo match was held by a watch company The company gave half a million pounds and an international organisation that collects money to save Indian elephants to a foreign charity that said it would give money for Indian elephants. The Indian elephant NGO that had been reluctantly roped into this illegal and unhappy venture got 8000 pounds with a promise of 25,000 more. Thats it.
Now Oxfam has come out with its own scam. For anyone who wants to feel good by giving a present to someone who has everything already , you can buy a goat in their name – or a donkey, pig,chicken,calf or rabbit . Once the donor pays , the animal will be sent to a “ developing” country. The scheme is sold by describing it as a “ real statement to world development and poverty alleviation”. This scheme has been on for three years. I heard of it for the first time when I went to Farooq Abdullah’s seventieth birthday. His English inlaws informed me that they had bought goats in his name which would be given to poor people in Africa. There are 750 Oxfam shops in England and it has an online service. Goats and chickens are bestsellers according to their own website. This Christmas season , shoppers have already purchased more than 5,800 goats and 10,000 broods of chickens at £24 per goat and £10 for a brood of 10 chickens.
Now other charities have jumped in: Christian Aid, Help the Aged and others are wooing the ethical shopper with pictures of cute goats wearing Christmas hats and promises of helping the poor in developing countries.
This programme is a scam.According to all environmentalists , it is madness to send goats, cows and chickens to areas where they will add to the problems of drought and desertification. Oxfam is not just ignorant of rural realities but determined not to learn. Goats have a devastating effect because each goat eats all the grass and shrubbery on 2 hectares of land a year . A goat destroys the fertility of land and any milk or dung it may give is very little compared to the havoc it causes. Within two years , the people who have goats have an even poorer lifestyle – there are village quarrels on community grazing , the children are taken out of school to graze the goats , water becomes even scarcer. All farmed animals require proper nourishment, large quantities of water, shelter from extremes and veterinary care. Such resources are in critically short supply in much of Africa and Asia. If the goat is eaten on arrival by a hungry community ( if it arrives ) it becomes one night’s meal- non nutritious and certainly not a replacement for grain or green..
These programmes are irresponsible and misguided .Instead of helping impoverished communities in the developing world flourish it is spreading disease, damaging the environment and wiping out vital water supplies. Six chickens, bought as a Christmas present , will heighten the disease risk and severely damage the local habitat. Two goats can reduce the amount of farmland available to local people and result in villages becoming deserted whilst a cow, at £750, will drink up to 90 litres of water every single day. Such gifts simply add to the burden of the impoverished recipients.
Oxfam and Christian Aid now say that its critics have misunderstood its programme. The purchase of a goat, the charity said, did not necessarily mean that a goat was bought ( what did I tell you ! ). The money goes into a farming and livestock fund to be distributed by local project managers. This means , basically , that more staffers will be given money . If people have paid money for 5000 animals , less than 200 will actually reach – I can bet on it.
These charities will earn about 10 million pounds peddling their goats, chickens, cows and rabbits. This is simply cynical exploitation of animals and poor people. There is a huge appetite for ethical gifts — it has trebled in the last three years. It is easy to use India or Africa as a way to raise money. But basically it is a fundraising mechanism for charities who pay their staff huge amounts and bonuses with very little – perhaps less than 10% reaching the designated country.