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Homeopathy-an incredible approach

Last month my dog Devi got into a fight with another dog and one tooth went into her neck artery. Blood spurted all over the house. We pressed on it, took her to the hospital and she was stitched up but she had lost a lot of blood and the vet said she might not make it. She was in great pain. Sintex, the company which makes the water storage tanks, has opened a homeopathy division for animals and they had sent me a kit called Healwell with12 medicines in it. We gave Devi arnica and calendula for two days. She healed miraculously fast.

For many years we have been treating Distemper in dogs with homeopathy and it works. Allopathy does not. We give the standard immunoglobin injections, the antibiotics and then we pray!

Dr. Mukesh Batra, the number one homeopathic doctor in India, sends one of his doctors every week to our shelter to treat the animals there, and there is a marked improvement in some who are given the homeopathic pills.

The diseases in animals are increasing as exponentially as those in humans. After all they drink the same water, breathe the same air. What is needed is to find different forms of preventive and curative medicines outside allopathy. To begin with, they can act as supportive systems. The main problems I see in pet dogs, for instance, is kidney failure from renal disease and cancer, parvo and distemper – all of which need something more than allopathy.

We need to understand the principles of homeopathy so that even when the animal cannot be cured, it can be helped to live a better life. The homeopathic consultation process is more complex than the usual veterinary consultation. It can take a long time, depending upon the medical problem. The homeopathic vet has to discover a great deal of information, not just from clinical examination but also from the owner. Likely questions may include details of background, lifestyle, environment, demeanour, character, likes, dislikes, fears, diet, household & family details and responses to various external influences.

Here are some examples given by vets:

* Baby, a big black cat, came to me at 9 years of age. She had been receiving Depo Medrol injections for 8 years at an ever-increasing frequency, up to every 6 weeks, to keep her from licking her abdomen raw and bloody (diagnosed as Feline Endrocine Alopecia). I treated her homeopathically for 9 months before her abdomen was free of lesions. She had no skin lesions from then until her death at 17 years.

* An eight-year-old cat came to me with conjunctivitis, photophobia, spasms of the lids, and a puritic, discharging otitis. She had a history of poor or finicky appetite, vomiting hairballs (gagging cough), dull hair coat with spells of dermatitis , scabs and redness, has always shed a lot and is aggressive to other cats. Current treatment had been Laxatone, antibiotic/steroid eye drops and occasional Depo injections. After homeopathic treatment, her eye and ear problems resolved, and a year later she had some scabbiness when the other cats got fleas. She has no more “hairball” gagging/vomiting, and will eat anything (salad, spaghetti, raw meat..). She is less aggressive. Her energy is better and her coat glows.

* “Heidi” was a 14 year old spayed female with a growth on her right eye that looked red and angry (local vet said “cancerous”.) It was attached to the third eyelid, covered ½ the eye. It bled easily when rubbed or even touched gently and was very sensitive to touch. There were 2 firm growths on the paw and in the middle of the chest. She has been deaf since1998. I prescribed Nitric acid 200c on September 8. From 9/14 to 9/18 had normal hearing. By 9/24 there was no blood and the tumour was smaller and she was back to normal energy and appetite. An LM potency of Nitric acid was given for the next 3 months, then a 10M Nitric acid. By April, she has been behaving like a young dog Now doing 4 mile walks. The tumour is completely gone, there is no eye discharge, the ears are clear, there is no snoring and her appetite is fine.

* Dudley is a 15 year old neutered male Yorkie with kidney problems. In June of 2001 he had diarrhoea and vomiting every 2 hours while at the same time drinking tons of water. The hospital administered IV fluids and antibiotic shots. Blood values: were Creatinine 1.77, BUN 36.9, Phos 10.36. During the next few months he worsened: drinking tons of water, urinating very often, not eating, loss of 4 kg., very incontinent during the night, eyes watery, shivering early morning and early evening. An initial prescription of Natrum muriaticum resolved the incontinence but nothing else. Bryonia, repeated when needed at increasing potencies, resolved all this dog’s problems. The owner switched to a fresh food diet. As of June 2002, he has been eating well, eyes are clear for the most part, drinking and urinating are normal, sleeps well, no tummy aches and his blood values are back to normal.

According to homeopathy, the body tries to heal itself by producing “symptoms”. How does a being (person/animal/ plant) get ill? Each body has a vital force or essence with inherent weaknesses. When triggered by viruses, bacteria, stress, poor diet, vaccinations, the aging process, or environmental stressors, the body produces symptoms in an attempt to recover balance. Merely removing a symptom by surgery or topical treatment does not get rid of the defect and so the symptoms recur or new, deeper symptoms appear.

Homeopaths say that, at first, illness is an energy imbalance observable only at an intuitive level “Doc, I know my cat is getting sick.” Second, there is a functional disturbance seen, for example, as a cat urinating frequently. Then there is inflammation, which is seen by a fever, or inflammatory cells or the cat showing pain on urination. Last, there is pathology, where thickening of the bladder wall, stones, and chronicity is seen. The ideal time to treat it is when the imbalance is still at the energy level. Once pathology has occurred it can take about a month of healing for every year the vital force has been ill.

Every time the energy field is triggered and moves out of balance, it produces symptoms, but they may be different symptoms each time. Successful holistic treatment must be based on all the symptoms and all the idiosyncrasies of this animal. As the cure progresses, new symptoms appear and the medicine has to change. For instance, when a dog comes in with generalized eczema and no characteristic symptoms, it is difficult to select the medicine that will rebalance the vital force. However if you add historical symptoms in winter, craving heat, wanting sips of water frequently, being very fearful and fastidious and having diarrhoea and vomiting episodes yearly, the vet can select a remedy with a higher probability of healing.

Homeopathy is based on “Like cures like”. For instance, when a person or animal takes homeopathically prepared Arsenicum album, they become restless, anxious, chilly, have diarrhoea and vomiting among many other symptoms. When an animal with any symptoms is also seen as chilly, anxious and can’t seem to keep still, the vet would prescribe Arsenicum album. The homeopathically prepared Ars alb would be stronger than, and similar to, the energetic imbalance of the ill person, and so would replace the illness, causing a cure. Once the imbalance is corrected, the physical manifestations disappear, even bony proliferations, cancerous growths, bladder stones, etc.

Homeopaths for animals use a list of symptoms which have indexes with matching remedies. These are recommended: Materia Medicas (Allen, Hering, Clarke), Therapeutic Materia Medicas for animals and people (Chris Day & George MacLeod) . There are computer programs that offer the materia medicas and repertories in formats that speed up the prescribing. Kent Homeopathic has a small version and there are web sites with free materia medica material. www.alternativevet.org

Unfortunately Veterinary homeopathy is often called in after all conventional options have been exhausted. It should be a first-line treatment along with allopathy.

In my next article I am going to give you a list of homeopathic medicines that you need to keep at home – or you can write to Sintex International Ltd , Kalol , Gujarat at homoeo@sintex.co.in, 02764-24301 for their kit, or contact Dr Batra’s clinics which are spread all over India.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Kidney Failure - Leptospirosis

Four of my dogs have died of kidney failure this year. I have no idea of what to do. I discussed this with Ingrid Newkirk of PETA who dropped in to Delhi for one evening and she immediately said Leptospirosis. Then two days later this opinion was reinforced by two other foreign vets, visiting India. If I don’t know about it, I am fairly sure no one else does. So this is a technical article.

The largest killer of dogs in India is kidney failure and no one can explain it. It stretches across dogs that are fed badly or well, fat and thin, pet or stray, young or old. Scientists are coming to the opinion that a little known but very rampant disease called Leptospirosis may be the killer. Through this article I would like to address anyone who has pets or runs a shelter or has a vet friend. Please cut this out and send it to all such people.

How Would a dog catch Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis affects many kinds of animals besides dogs. The organism that causes leptospirosis belongs to a group of organisms called spirochetes.

Dogs and cats pick this up from rats, wildlife as well as domestic livestock. More cases occur after heavy rainfall. Leptospira persist in standing water, dampness, mud and alkaline conditions.

Most infected animals that spread leptospirosis do not appear ill. In these animals, the leptospira have taken up residence in their kidneys. When they urinate they contaminate their environment with living leptospira. Animals can become infected by sniffing this urine. The leptospira are washed by rains into standing water. Animals wading, swimming or drinking the contaminated water develop the disease. They can also enter through a bite wound or through the pets eating infected materials.

What Happens A Dog Catches Leptospirosis ?

Not all dogs that are exposed to leptospirosis become visibly ill. Chronic kidney inflammation is a leading cause of kidney failure and death in dogs. This form of kidney damage can be one outcome of leptospirosis.

When leptospirosis does cause sudden disease in dogs, it tends to be most severe in dogs that are younger than 6 months old. These are the pets most likely to suffer life-threatening liver and kidney damage. It takes about 4-12 days after exposure for the pet to feel ill.

In dogs that become ill, the leptospira spread rapidly through the pet’s blood stream, usually causing high fevers, depression and joint pain. Leptospira produce powerful toxins that attack the liver and kidneys, leading to failure of these organs. Some varieties primarily cause liver damage, while others concentrate in the kidneys. In other pets, blood fails to clot normally - leading to bleeding.

What Are The Signs To See In The Dog?

The most common signs are fever and depression. These pets are cold, shivery, and stiff. They may carry their tummies tucked up due to pain. Some drool and vomit and most lose their appetite. Fever causes many dogs to drink excessively.

Later in the disease, a few pets will develop eye inflammations (uveitis), nervous system abnormalities, or pass red-tinged urine. As the disease progresses, the pet may become dehydrated due to the fever, vomiting and disinterest in drinking. A drop to subnormal body temperature is a very grave sign. A few dogs, particularly pups, will die suddenly before many of these signs occur.

When the liver has been damaged, the pet’s skin may take on a yellowish tinge and show all the symptoms of hepatitis. When the kidneys have been severely damaged, the pet may show the signs of uremia.

How Would A Veterinarian Diagnose Leptospirosis In The Dog ?

Most vets fail to diagnose the disease on the first examination.

What has to be done are blood tests (CBC and blood chemistry). One of the typical signs found in blood tests, as leptospirosis progresses, is an elevation in the number of white blood cells in the blood. The cells that tend to go up in leptospirosis are the neutrophils. However, very early in the infection, white blood cell numbers can be lower than normal. There are other chemical abnormalities that suggest leptospirosis – changes in liver enzymes, blood-clotting cells (thrombocytes) and kidney health values (BUN and creatinine). Evidence of damage to the pet’s kidneys would also be reflected in abnormal urine analysis results.

Vets often confuse the disease with ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, autoimmune disease, infectious canine hepatitis, canine herpes virus, canine brucellosis and certain poisonings. Because of this, your veterinarian may place your pet on antibiotics while another test is run. This is the leptospirosis PCR test. This test is extremely sensitive in finding the presence of leptospira and the results can be obtained rapidly from urine and blood samples. After the first ten days of infection, antibodies against leptospirosis can be detected in your pet’s blood if it has encountered leptospira. However, antibody detections is not as valuable as a positive PCR test in dealing with leptospirosis. Occasionally the diagnosis can be made by seeing leptospira microscopically in the pet’s urine.

How Can Other Dogs Be Prevented From Catching It?

You have to find a way to deal with the urine of an infected dog so that it does not infect others. Because recovered pets can shed leptospira in their urine for months, this has to be monitored even after the animal has recovered.

Confine the animal to an easily-sanitized area of your house. Take your dog out on a leash frequently to urinate. Only allow the pet to urinate on dry concrete surface that can be easily sanitized with bleach.

How Will The Vet Treat Leptospirosis?

The treatment of leptospirosis is much easier than the diagnosis. Many common antibiotics kill leptospira - ordinary penicillin, tetracycline and erythromycin all work well. Most vets keep infected pets on a tetracycline-class antibiotic for an extended period after recovery to prevent a carrier state from developing.

Sick pets require intense supportive care to get them through the early severe stage of the disease. Dogs with stomach involvement need anti-emetic medications to lessen vomiting. Dogs that vomit need intravenous fluids to stem dehydration and correct blood acid / base balance. Rigorous fluid therapy also helps flush out the pet’s kidneys. Some animals recover. Some go on to suffer chronic renal failure or develop chronic active hepatitis – neither of which is curable.

How Can A Pet Be Prevented From Catching Leptospirosis ?

Vaccination is one option. It is one of the 7-in-one vaccinations that are commonly given when the pup is a few months old.

There are two problems with this :

1. The 7-in-one does not work for leptospirosis . You need to give it as an independent injection, and not in a combination vaccine or multiple vaccines given on the same day. First get your dog immunized against parvo and distemper virus. Then let several weeks pass before the leptospirosis vaccination. This is because adding leptospirosis ingredients to combination vaccines reduces the effectiveness of the other ingredients

Secondly, the vaccination has side effects. Most foreign vets do not recommend that pets receive it unless there is a good chance they will be exposed to leptospirosis. They see more vaccination reactions than from any other vaccines. These range from pain at injection site, facial swelling and hives to a fatal anaphylactic reaction. Reactions seem to occur more frequently in smaller breeds than larger ones.

Third, the immunity that leptospirosis vaccinations give is short lasting – perhaps a year, perhaps less. Occasionally, the vaccine does not protect at all. Vaccine manufacturers have known the drawbacks of their leptospirosis vaccines for years.

Fourth, vaccination does not always prevent infection – but it makes the disease much milder. However vaccinated dogs can become long-term carriers of leptospirosis. Some long-term carriers have a frequent incidence of reproductive failure and stillbirths.

In 2004, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals came out with a multi-strain leptospirosis vaccine which is supposed to be safer. I do not know whether it is available in India. But considering the epidemic, we should make all efforts to get it.

The first vaccination is at 14-16 weeks of age. It can be given as early as 12 weeks of age if the pup's exposure risk is high. But no other vaccinations are to be given that week. As of now, obtaining a blood sample and checking the dog for protective levels of antibody is a safer option.

How Long Do Leptospirosis Organisms Survive In The Environment ?

Leptospira are very dependent on water, mud or damp clay soils to survive. They die almost immediately on dry surfaces - even if those surfaces could be contaminated with urine from other infected animals. Temperatures at or above 131 deg.F (42 deg.C) kill leptospira as well. All common household disinfectants (bleaches, alcohol based products, vinegar, lemon juice etc.) kill leptospira quickly; as does a liberal application of detergent or boiling for 5 minutes. Standing water can be disinfected using swimming pool chlorine tablets.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Dog Care

Want to know how to get on in business. Follow some dog rules to succeed .

In 2002 the Defence Ministry funded a study of ancient texts to identify which natural substances could be used as chemical weapons. I would love to see the study and know whether it is ongoing.

Dogs are very smart. They came out of the wild and allowed themselves to be tamed so they'd have a warm place to live and a steady supply of food. That showed more foresight and intelligence than a lot of people. The dog in the house knows whose boss and attaches himself to him. It wouldn’t harm you to show loyalty to your boss (even if it is only schmoozing!) .

Respect the hierarchy. A younger dog will never walk in front of an older one. The head of the pack can put his tail up; the rest will keep it down. A younger dog may occasionally show his teeth but he will step down and back off in front of a senior. There is no useless petty pride in dogs. We humans would feel safer if we kept within a defined support system and didn’t fight over small things. Stand down. It usually leads to far more happiness. Give respect to seniors, older people. It makes your place in the world more secure. You’ll get more done and waste less time — and the world would be a better place.

Some humans seem to think that being an effective boss is all about shouting, bullying and panicking. Look at the behaviour of alpha males in dog packs. Alpha males are often the calmest, quietest and most docile members of the pack — the ones most likely to put up with nonsense from puppies. But they carry themselves with a certain confidence which commands respect, and they maintain their position by being consistent, trustworthy and leading by example. An alpha male would never ask another dog to do something he wouldn’t do himself.

A dog will keep worrying at a problem till he has solved it. My mother in law used to say that I was like a terrier. All she had to do was to point me in a direction and tell me to get the job done and it would be done, no matter what it took. I took that as a compliment and yes, I live like that. If you disregard the distractions till the job is done, making that your entire world , even for a few minutes , then everything is possible. The word “dogged” should be used to describe you.

Keep your eyes on the ball. When dogs have a ball they give it their full attention, full energy and talent. You need to do that in your own work. Break work down into manageable chunks, completing each one before taking a break or moving onto the next.

Be consistent and persistent. You can refuse a dog his biscuit a million times. But ultimately his eyes, his soft paw on your lap, his yearning and his gratitude get through to you and he gets his treat. The lesson? Soft persistence can break through to even the toughest customer.

Dogs can be easily taught with treats. If you expect positive performance, it has to be fostered by the proper incentives.

Just as a dog greets everyone with a happy wag of the tail, make each person in your office feel important and valued and wanted; each customer, special.

Dogs are naturals at showing their appreciation – from wagging tails to affectionate nuzzles. Show appreciation to clients, agents, product sellers.

We spend a lot of our time thinking about what we need to do to get our business from here to there but we forget to focus on the present, what needs to be done today. Stay in the present.

Dogs are good listeners and unless you become one, you will never get feedback from customers and employees. Remember, you can listen to comments from others without having to act on everything that has been said.

Be as curious as your dog, about the world around you? Oprah Winfrey says "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity." Stay up-to-date on what's new in your industry and being open to advice and collaborations. The dog sleeps, and is instantly alert. Patience can be a virtue, but when the opportunity presents itself, go for it. Sometimes the best way is to dive in. Never let obstacles get in your way.

Unless dogs are severely abused they are happy. Happy business owners are better business owners, because they are enthusiastic and ready for whatever the day throws at them. So, whether that means more holidays, more time with the family, or more time reading, make sure you get some happiness in your life. Your bottom line will benefit from it.

Stop taking everything so seriously. In the middle of a calamity a dog will still take time to run about and lick you on the face and tell you that being together is more important than anything else. Never lose sight of the main goal but stop and smell the roses as well. There is life outside the office.

Don't forget to have fun at the job. I have never met a dog who was too busy to have fun, but I have met plenty of people who are. Life is too short not to play and feel good with those we spend time with in the office. Enjoy the journey and remember, the Chihuahua can be as frightening as the Great Dane. It’s not the size of the small business. It’s the size of the fight in the business.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

India has been so unsuccessful in producing its own weapons of war that I am surprised that we do not start looking for innovative ways to keep our neighbours at bay. We have Pakistan and China’s incursions on one side, Bangladeshis pouring in relentlessly into our border districts, Maoists coming through Nepal, insurgents in our northeast going in and out of Myanmar. It is perhaps time to look at uniquely Indian Ayurvedic solutions, rather than foreign allopathic ones, to defend our borders.

In 2002 the Defence Ministry funded a study of ancient texts to identify which natural substances could be used as chemical weapons. I would love to see the study and know whether it is ongoing.

In the 5th century a Greek physician named Ctesias described a poison from India that was so potent that a tiny drop could kill a man. For 700 years the Romans and Greeks tried to find this poison, said to be used by the kings of India for suicide or assassination. The idea was for Roman archers to use it. It was thought that the poison came from the droppings of a tiny Himalayan bird called Dikairon, the size of a large grape. The search went on for centuries. No one ever found the bird, but in the 20th century scientists discovered the Paederus beetle which matched the description of the Dikairon. This beetle harbours a bacteria called Pederin which is more powerful than the venom of the black widow spider and the cobra. These black and orange beetles are found in North India and some of them can fly. Heavy rains trigger off mass breeding.

The Chinese have known about the Paederus beetles for centuries. They used its secretions to kill ringworm and to remove tattoos! Even though Paederus beetles do not bite or sting, pederin, a toxin mainly found in the females, is released when the beetle is crushed, even partially, against the skin. Within 12–36 hours a reddish rash appears which develops into blisters. Irritation, crusting and scaling may last from two to three weeks and spread to other parts of the body. In the villages of India, they steer clear of the insect because coming into contact with its secretions, while killing it, causes pus filled sores that take months to heal and are extremely painful. In fact, less than a hundred thousandth of a gram can put a person out of commission for a long time tending to his skin. Eating the beetle leads to severe and lethal internal injuries. If injected into the bloodstream Pederin is fatal.

Paederus species are brightly coloured with metallic blue- or green-coloured or bright orange/red elytra. A paper in the magazine Lancet in 2002 suggested that a Paederus species could have been responsible for one of the ten Plagues of Egypt described in the Bible’s Book of Exodus – the plague of boils. Various outbreaks of dermatitis attributed to the Paederus beetle have been reported in Turkey, Africa, Japan and of course India.

Is the beetle the only insect that can be used as a weapon. There is the Bullet Ant Paraponera clavata found in Central America. Each ant is about 0.7 to 1.2 inches long and resembles a stout, reddish-black, wingless wasp. The pain caused by this insect's sting is the most painful in the world according to the Schimdt Sting Pain Index. According to victims, the pain which continues for 24 hours is equal to being shot, hence the name of the insect. The sting contains a paralyzing neurotoxin called poneratoxin. A tribe in Brazil uses the ants as a manhood rite where the boy slips an ant filled glove onto his hand for 10 minutes. When finished, the boy's hand and part of his arm are temporarily paralysed and he may shake uncontrollably for days.

The Japanese Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica) could be another candidate for war games. The size of your thumb, it can spray flesh-melting poison. The poison also has a pheromone that calls every hornet in the hive to come and sting you. How powerful are they? Thirty Vespa japonica hornets can tear open the beehives of 30,000 bees and kill them all.

Africanized Honey Bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) are an invention of a mad scientist who crossed European bees with African ones. Found in South and North America, this species swarms by the hundreds of millions, is insanely territorial, mindlessly aggressive, and has killed a few thousand people. It can live in the jungle or the desert.

The Army or Soldier Ant (Eciton burchellii) lives in the Amazon Basin but has subfamilies living in Asia and Africa. Each ant is half-inch in length with massive, powerful, machete-like jaws, half the length of the soldiers ants themselves. They're called 'Army' ants because their entire colony, up to one million insects, is a mobile battalion. They don't make permanent nests like other ants. They stay temporarily down in single locations just long enough for the queen to lay her eggs while the soldiers spread out in search of food, killing and dismembering every living thing on the way. There are reports of animals the size of horses being shredded by them. For the good of the colony, the ants will use their own bodies to build any structure necessary, latching on to each other to create protective walls and ceilings against the ravages of the weather, bridges and boats.

The Bot Fly (Oestridae) has dozens of varieties. Each one has a specific target and is named after it , e.g. Horse Stomach Bot Fly, Sheep Nose Bot Fly. One of them is called Human Bot Fly.

Horse Stomach Bots, for example, lay their eggs in grass. Horses eat the grass and the eggs. These hatch in the mouth, chew through the tongue and burrow into the belly. When they're ready to be flies, they enter the intestine and are thrown out with the faeces. The Human Bot Fly lays its eggs on a horsefly or a mosquito. This lands on a human. The eggs rub off on the human, whose body heat hatches the eggs. The larvae drop onto the skin and burrow right in and start eating the flesh.

There are Kissing Bugs that spread Chagas, Fleas for Bubonic plague, Fire and Driver Ants to eat you up. And if all else fails, there is the one insect that has caused more deaths than all the wars in the world – the mosquito.

An invading force that had these insects to deal with would make a very fast retreat. For years the Russians, Japanese, Germans, French, Americans and British have been experimenting on how to use insects as defensive or offensive weapons. Should we not think about it?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

30+ Emotions of a Dog: How to make a dog smile

Dogs talk to you all the time with their emotions. Dogs like humans do have emotions and express them in various ways. The dog feelings and behavior are widely researched in animal psychology. Being a responsible dog owner you must understand your dog’s emotions and treat them right. Here is an insight into dog emotions and behavioral problems due to mismanaged emotions.

There are large numbers of feelings and emotive responses in dogs. The behavior is largely instinctual and same for all kinds of dogs with slight variations. The different types of emotions of a dog are as follows :

Eye contact

Just like humans dogs also get confused and wary with direct eye contact. It is a threat stance for them and they feel threatened. A dog which looks away is trying to be polite, submissive and avoid confrontation.

Dog postures mean something

The way a dog stands and holds oneself tells a lot about its feelings and emotions. The movements are subtle and takes some observation and knowledge to fully grasp the meanings. Here are some common postures :

Confident stance

The dog would be standing straight with tail upright and wagging slightly. The dog would appear relaxed and the pupils would also be smaller than usual.

Play bow posture

When the dog is bowing with its legs splayed out and hind portion and tail up, it means dog wants to play. This bowing posture can be mistaken as an attacking one but it only denotes a playful mood.

Hip swings mean play

Another sign of a playful mood is swinging of backside by dogs. The dog would bump into another dog using his hind portion. It also denotes trust or wanting a scratch from you. When a dog wiggles its rear end it can also mean excitement and friendliness.

Rolling means slight resistance

When a dog rolls over it means a sign of passive resistance. A belly rub is a good reinforcement for this kind of behavior. It can also mean a passive resistance to some minor thing for instance, nail clipping.

Pacing behavior denotes excitement

The dogs pace here and there if they are excited, nervous, bored or needing exercise.

Raised hackles means beware

This is a raised strip of fur running down a dog’s back. It means that the dog is threatened, aggressive and in a fighting mood.

Frightened dog

The dog would crouch or cower down denoting nervousness and fright. Another posture can be arched back, slightly bent legs and the tail down.

Sudden freeze means attack or unsure

This means the dog is not sure or is preparing for attack. Now the dog must be left alone and this happens usually when hes holding a bone.

Threatened or aggressive

In this posture the dog would lean forward with a rigid appearance. The tail would be down and wagging vigorously. Also the whites of eyes would be visible when the dog looks away.

  • Just like humans, the various gestures of dogs can be easily understood and interpreted. Some of the common ones are listed here :

Uncertainty gestures

A dog is puzzled when he raises one paw or keep his body away from the object puzzling him. He can also express this by tilting his head to one side in search of more clarity or information on something.

Mounting shows dominance

A dog mounts on other dog or owner to show dominance and doesn't have any sexual connotations. It can be used by a low confidence animal to show allegiance to a high confidence animal. It can be rectified with proper training.

Raised paw

The instinctual kneading for mother’s milk becomes a pacifying gesture in dogs. They keep their paw on owner’s leg or any body part to ask or request for something. Small puppies raise their paw when they want to play. It is also a connecting and friendly gesture like shaking hands.

Head and shoulders shake

The end to any activity like sleep, play is denoted like this. It can also denote relief from tension like after being alert for sometime.

  • You must note that tails do not always mean happiness. They mean a lot of things which if watched astutely, can easily tell what the dog is feeling.

Upright tail means a confident dog

The dog which stands with its tail straight and upright is confident and assertive. It can also be highly excited.

Tail level with body is relaxed

When a dog is feeling friendly, secure and relaxed then it keep the tail neutral or slightly lower than the body.

Tail low means fear

When the dog has its tail between its legs or low it means fear, anxiety. Wagging can occur which leads to misunderstanding that the dog is happy. It means the dog is looking for reassurance or wants to be protected.

Fierce wag with tail up shows mischief

When the dog is wagging its tail hard it means it is in a mischievous and troublesome mood. It means it wants to bother somebody or squat another animal away.

  • Many kinds of emotions of dogs are expressed via their ears. It is important to know what different signs mean. Here some main ones are listed :

Pricked forward shows attention

When a dog is highly engaged in something, concentrating hard its ears are pricked forward. It can denote curiosity and intent to catch sounds before chasing.

Flat ears mean fear or aggression

A dog is afraid when the ears are flat against the head. When the ears are in front and close to head it means an aggressive gesture.

Ears way back denotes sadness

The dog is unhappy or uncertain when the ears are way back but not flat with the head.

  • The dogs also display a lot of emotions through their eyes. In-fact, one of the best mode to know their emotions is via eye signals. Let us see how they express:

Eyes wide open are alert

When your dog if feeling very playful and ready its eyes are fully open.

Staring eyes challenge

A dog is expressing dominance or challenging someone with stare.

Eye contact avoided in submission

Your dog would not look into your eyes if hes being polite or submissive.

Winking is naughty

Your dog is playful when he blinks or winks his eyes at you.

Narrow eyes denote aggression

When a dog is angry and preparing to attack, it narrows the eyes. This can be followed by staring.

  • You can know a lot about the emotions of your dog by observing the facial expressions. Even dogs, like humans, have express through their faces. Here's how :

Smile is happiness

You can easily confuse a snarl with a smile. To be sure you must note the entire body language. If the dog is relaxed then that means he is happy and smiling.

Yawn has many meanings

The whole context must be noted in case of a yawn. It is contagious to dogs also and he can yawn seeing a person doing the same. It can also mean that the dog is easing tension, is confused. Also, a dog yawns when tired or in some new situation.

Mouth stretched and open means pain

A dog whose mouth is stretched back and slightly open means it is ill or in pain. It can be accompanied by heavy panting

Lip licking is for many things

A dog can do licking as apart of sexual behavior as it gives chemical signals. Also, if lip licking is with a yawn it means the dog is stresses or threatened. When a dog licks another dog it can also mean submissive behavior.

Bared teeth show anger

When a dog is aggressive it bares the teeth but it doesn't mean it would attack. When the muzzle is not wrinkled it shows the dog is showing anger and warning. And when the teeth are bare, lips pushed back and muzzle is wrinkled then the dog is likely to attack.

Thus, the insight into dog emotions is an eye opener for better understanding these wonderful creatures. You must take care to observe closely for the subtle signs and rightly understand your dog. This would help in forging a deeper bond with your true best friend. Your dog is talking to you, are you listening?

8,00,000 dogs are sad - Make them smile !

A large number of dogs are sad because they are living in shabby and bad conditions without any master to take care of them. PFA is largest animal welfare organization which is working to provide these wonderful creatures a good life. Help us make them smile by donating / sponsoring a dog at: www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Maneka Gandhi is an environmentalist & animal rights leader in India and belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi political clan.She was a magazine editor & columnist before authoring several books on law, etymology & animal welfare like Sanjay Gandhi, Brahma’s Hair and Heads & Tails.Her articles regularly feature in newspapers and magazines.

She started PFA (People for Animals) which is now the largest animal rights organization in India.It’s shelters are known world wide for the immense work in animal welfare. For more information please visit PFA’s website: www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Sparrows - The Chidiya

The world changes every day for the worse. Our greed leaves no room for other life forms to cling to the thread of survival. The forests fall silent and so do the cities. I used to boast to foreigners that while their cities were sterile dead things, just full of people, cars and buildings, ours were miracles of nature where mongoose and peacock, sparrow and cow, horse and koels all found place. But now our cities are becoming as sterile. The cows and horses are gone and one by one the birds disappear.

Three years ago when I lived in Maharani Bagh, the sparrows made my office their home. They built their nests right in front on my desk in the bookshelf. The glass door in summer had to be kept closed because of the air conditioner but every five minutes they tapped to open it to bring in their bits of straw. One person’s job was just to open and close the door. If the door was not opened on time, they sat on the edge of a chair and made such a noise that we rushed to open it.

When we moved here, there were no sparrows and I miss them very much? There is a lot of deep magic in my life and sometimes I can use it. I remember sitting in my son’s room, and saying “Let me see if my wishes still come true. I wish that I could have a sparrow in my room”. I had just completed the sentence when a sparrow flew in, sat for a few minutes and disappeared again. Everyone saw the miracle.

Alas, it was a single sighting. The Chidiya, so common that the name, which once meant sparrow, now means all birds, has become as rare as the vulture. All of a sudden millions of them have disappeared from the planet.

A survey done in Britain by British Trust for Ornithology shows that millions have disappeared there as well – from 25 million they are now less than 10 lakhs. They have disappeared from all of Europe’s main cities. Towns like Amsterdam and Hamburg are now sparrowless. In London, where they flocked to eat crumbs from peoples' hands, there is not a sparrow to be seen today. In big towns, the population went into freefall around 1990, and there is no evidence that it is stabilizing. Questions have been asked in the British Parliament. The British Trust for Ornithology has called thousands of volunteers across the country to report on sparrows over the next 18 months.

In India where data on wildlife is manufactured by bureaucrats during their lunch hour – producing inflated figures even after the species is down to its last few dozen – there is no question of a survey being done on sparrows, but you and I know that they are down to their last lakh or so.

Our houses are constructed to be closed in and so access points are closed up, air conditioners work instead of fans and open windows, feeding the birds has become a thing that the older generation did before puja, our trees are fruitless Australian ones.

Shrubs give way to lawns and flowers. Chemical usage in the garden increases. Changes in gardens are probably an important reason for their decline. There are fewer weedy corners for birds to feed in, and fewer insects around to feed the chicks. House sparrows rest and hide in old, dense bushes, many of which are disappearing. The key problem lies in a shortage of the tiny insects that fledgling sparrows need during the first three or four days of their lives, before they move on to vegetation diet. Seed eating bird chicks depend on soft-bodied insects like crane flies (‘daddy long-legs’), beetles, caterpillars, aphids and ants and the new born eat as much as three times their own weight in a 24-hour period during the early stages of growth. So obviously a tremendous quantity of insects is required to raise a family. Apart from chemicals which suppress insect populations, Insects need to eat as well and if you don’t allow your garden to feed them, they disappear too. So with no food and no homes the sparrow has made a quiet exit from our lives.

Do you want to save the city sparrow? Sparrows avoid living in the same tree canopy with other birds like crows, mynahs and parakeets. They try to find trees, thick bushes or wall cavities that are close to their feeding zones.

Below are some easy ways you can help even if you live in a flat:

1. Provide shelter

Put small trees with thick foliage, bushes with berries and climbers around your house, school or office. Do not trim them. The kikar tree, which is now disappearing, was a roosting site. The loss of a tree means the loss of the sparrow. Put artificial birdhouses in a shady area or in your terrace. This is what they should look like:

Nest boxes should be securely at least 3m above ground level. Avoid the direct heat of the sun. House sparrows breed in loose colonies, so put up several boxes a few feet apart. Boxes should be wooden with a 32mm diameter entrance hole. The box itself should be about 30cm tall and 15cm deep. You can help supply nesting material to house sparrows by putting out straw, hair, fur from groomed pets, moss raked from the lawn, and non-synthetic fibers. Remember not to disturb birds nesting

2. Provide food and water

Do not use pesticides in the garden. Until your garden recovers its insects put in small annual plants that have seeds like sunflower geraniums, antirrhinum, stocks which also feed birds. Weeds are actually plants that grow from seeds brought by the birds so de-weeding the garden just to have some boring uniform artificially put grass drives away the birds. In any case “weeds” are simply beautiful in themselves with shy pink and other flowers and lots of berries. What one person calls a weed, another cultivates as a prized plant. I brought a “weed” back from Shantiniketan once when I saw the birds eating its berries. Today people exclaim over the beauty of the plant. If you are far too “propah” to let the garden get natural plants, leave a small weedy patch in your garden which through winter can also provide food to house sparrows and other birds. Avoid intense mowing; Maintain the grass at a height of between 3cm to 6cm. Besides retaining its ‘green-ness’ for longer during dry spells, this allows grasses and low growing plants to seed; In some parts of the garden, allow grass to grow to a height of 20–30cm. This provides seeds and shelter for grasshoppers, lacewings, caterpillars, and beetles. Put grass cuttings or dry leaves under shrubs and trees. This also encourages insects in Great.

Make a small pond with small plants – it need not even be more than one meter by one meter. These ponds get colonized very fast and insects like midges, dragonflies and damselflies provide food to sparrows. The seeds of the reeds are eaten sparrows during autumn and winter. Put shallow water bowls out daily so that sparrows can bathe and drink. They should be put near bushes that sparrows can hide in if bigger birds come.

Provide additional seed food to help them survive during periods of food shortage. Seed mixes with sunflower, millet, wheat and rice. Bird tables or hanging feeders can be used to feed house sparrows; the bird tables should be close enough to thick, thorny cover to allow birds a quick escape from cats but not close enough to allow cats to pounce straight onto the table.

Maneka Gandhi

Manisha Hariharan Blog

The building that I live in is an architectural wonder. The brainchild of Golcha builders, it beckoned with the tagline ‘Live close to nature’. All around it, there were open fields and the only route from the main road to the building was a hardened sand path. A few bicycles trundled along the path while the rest walked. It was the perfect rural scenery. Such romantic notions led to an impulsive purchase that cost us not just money and but also reconciled us to nature’s vile ways.

After a year of living through a scorching summer, monsoon flooding and bone chilling winter, we realized the house was designed to let the weather get the better of us. The year-round load shedding added to our woes. The next year, we gave the house several cosmetic makeovers such as window sheds, wall cupboards, tiling and painting, to name a few. There were no attics as we found out later and sound proofing had been left to our discretion.

Over the years, such major oversights by the builder became minor inconveniences to me.The long walks in the open fields with my dogs more than made up for it. Monsoons offered a magical view from my window that hung above a garden. I’d stare out into the space, sipping coffee, my imagination running amok with pixies, elves and leprechauns while angry rains lashed against the window. Winters were spent cuddling under the blanket with my cats and hibernating for the most part.

 
The building that I live in is an architectural wonder. The brainchild of Golcha builders, it beckoned with the tagline ‘Live close to nature’. All around it, there were open fields and the only route from the main road to the building was a hardened sand path. A few bicycles trundled along the path while the rest walked. It was the perfect rural scenery. Such romantic notions led to an impulsive purchase that cost us not just money and but also reconciled us to nature’s vile ways.

After a year of living through a scorching summer, monsoon flooding and bone chilling winter, we realized the house was designed to let the weather get the better of us. The year-round load shedding added to our woes. The next year, we gave the house several cosmetic makeovers such as window sheds, wall cupboards, tiling and painting, to name a few. There were no attics as we found out later and sound proofing had been left to our discretion.

Over the years, such major oversights by the builder became minor inconveniences to me.The long walks in the open fields with my dogs more than made up for it. Monsoons offered a magical view from my window that hung above a garden. I’d stare out into the space, sipping coffee, my imagination running amok with pixies, elves and leprechauns while angry rains lashed against the window. Winters were spent cuddling under the blanket with my cats and hibernating for the most part.


With the passage of time, the scenes changed. Open fields were planted with concrete structures instead of vegetation. The magical garden gave way to buildings and bungalows. Plots became dump yards where wandering dogs and cows foraged for leftover meals. Human progress reared its ugly head. Parallely, in our house, living close to nature took on a new meaning.

Suddenly it seemed like all the cockroaches in Sawangi had been shown an arrow mark into our house. They were everywhere .They came out in numbers by day and formed armies by night. They dangled from the rims of our coffee cups, peeped into our oil cans, nibbled our food, slept in the fridge, ran over our beds, across my laptop, preened themselves in full view and broke every rule in the book that says cockroaches are shy, nocturnal creatures. These were not! They were gregarious We called pest control and for a while the cockroaches hid and then they were back.

In the meantime a bee hive was forming right outside my window. Every now and then an odd one would stray into my room and threaten to sting me. I’d scream and run out of my room only to see a cockroach heading my way. I’d dodge the cockroach and duck the bee .Our house was infested with cockroaches while buzzing bees had become regular intruders.

Sometime back, there was a cobweb in my bedroom and that’s common in every house but this particular sighting stopped me in my tracks. It was beautifully designed. The spider had spun a web stretching right from the tube light to the curtain rod .At first I couldn't see how the cobweb hung without support and when I strained my eyes, I saw a thin line stretching all the way to the curtain rod. Insects were trapped in it but no trace of a spider. Spiders build temporary cobwebs for egg sacking so it was safe to pull it down .The spider had moved on.

Much as I fear creepy crawly insects, I can’t kill them. I have often watched a dying cockroach, lying on its back, kicking its legs and fighting to survive .It seems sad. So it is with bees that are smoked out of their hives. Our cockroach misery ended by sealing all cracks and holes near the drains and electrical fittings. . At first it was scary and then we became almost compatible. For days the house felt strangely empty and then life went back to normal. Another beehive is forming outside my window but I’ll just let it be. Bees don’t sting unless you meddle with them. Occasionally, I spot a spider free falling and gliding from the ceiling and I can’t wait to see the next cobweb. I am not an insect enthusiast nor do I claim to feel love for them. But my recent experience with cockroaches and bees has been an eye opener. I acknowledge them as resilient creatures. So are spiders.

Do we ever think about the genius in a spider while casually whisking it away or squashing it? Do we ever think about the families we disrupt while smoking out bees? The hives we destroy which took them so long to build? A cockroach can go without food and water for more than two weeks, run up to three miles an hour, hold its breath for over forty minutes and has been around since time immemorial. Such attributes in man would elevate him to the status of a yogi. And yet a cockroach can be killed with one fell swoop by a human hand.

Cockroaches and Spiders and Bees, oh my! Isn’t it ironic that we go to temples looking for miracles while ignoring nature’s little miracles in our own homes?

About the Author
Manisha Hariharan is a businesswoman,corporate trainer,image consultant & writer.She is also a member of People for Animals,Wardha & most importantly a vegan.
manisha_pfa@yahoo.com

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"There wouldn't be so many in subway tunnels if we let them ride the trains" ~Jonathan Marshall

Pests or pets?
Eeeeks… is a telling expression of the contempt people feel for rats.

From agricultural pests to vectors of disease …laboratory specimens to being worshipped as Gods...dietary staples in some cultures to culinary taboos… these furry creatures have ridden the waves that encompass a very broad spectrum of beliefs and superstitions, dearly held by people. But do you know that rats can be lovable scamps?.

You are nobody till somebody loves you…

When I found them, they were merely a few days old. It was the end of a school day. The school sweeper spotted them in the closet, desperately suckling their dead mother. A friend and I trooped into the school office and watched in horror as a bully placed one on the floor and stamped out its life. Just a smear of blood remained in its place. I grabbed a cane and whipped him while my friend plucked the little creatures right out of his hand. And we ran to the car parked outside, where dad was waiting for us. As we settled in, I gave the tiny pink baby rats to my dad.

One of them moved and dad exclaimed in disbelief, “God, these are real rats!" and gave them back to me. Ignorance is bliss. Maybe that’s why children relate better with animals of all shapes and sizes. We took them home and laid them tenderly in a plastic tiffin box, padded with cloth. We held a table lamp over them for some warmth. Then we had to feed them. But how? We figured that twisted cotton swabs dipped in milk would do it and that’s how we fed them.

There was no internet back then to dive into the myriad resources we have today and no animal hospital existed where we lived. My parents doubled up as vets every time I brought in a new animal friend. We did all we knew but nothing could avail the dying creatures. All we could offer was a little love.

Spooks and specks…

One day, while cleaning the bathroom, I was creeped out of my mind to see a tiny rat, slumped in one corner. He was almost lifeless when I picked him up with ice tongs and put him in a shoe box. This was years later and by then I felt indifferent towards rats. He was no baby and already had patches of fur. His eyes were open. He looked every bit a disgusting rodent. Probably a few weeks old but still struggling to survive. I could’ve just left him outside but there was something about his sloppy, disheveled appearance that pulled at my heart strings.

I rushed to a nearby vet who adviced me to feed him mashed fruits and vegetables, along with his daily dose of Glucon D.Milk was a No…No. “Feed him every two hours”, the vet cautioned and then he taught me how to stimulate his genitals to help him do his business. The next few days, I must’ve done something right because he responded positively to all my antics around raising him. He sprayed pee after every meal, his stools seemed fine and he gained appetite. As a mark of contentment, he’d crawl into my palm and rest his chin on my wrist. I could swear that if rats burp, this one most deffinitely did.

I named him ‘Dirty Harry’ and that’s exactly what I told the Mumbai airport authorities when I rang them to book him into a flight .I was shifting to another city in a week and I had company. After several altercations with the airport officials, I mentally braced myself for a road trip. Two days before our departure date, I got back home to find him choked to death. I had been away longer than usual that afternoon and had left behind some extra food for him to chomp away. Big mistake! Till today, I carry with me the little speck of guilt every animal lover feels over losing an animal friend. Yes, even rodents.

Great Pointed Archers

Fascinated by the flash works, I ‘Enter Site’ to find a colorful assortment of entertainment weaved around rats. “To most of the world, Great Pointed Archers are known by the derogatory name rat …” starts the first line of an unusual cause by a website dedicated to restoring respect to these animals. I click on each link, till I am led into an online shopping mall that displays a diamond studded collar pegged at $75,000 coaxing you to show the world that your GPA has style. Tail warmers, rain boots, personalized GPA carrying case, feeder box and other goodies priced at the higher end are displayed proudly. With each click I delve deeper into the website .At one point I am treated to my own home theatre show where I get to pick a film off the rack and watch it on a TV within my computer screen. You can also play ratty games. The page transition effect is slightly put offish by the sound of music that resembles a horror show but overall, a very fresh take on rats by a community that holds them in high esteem.

Humans and rats are uneasy neighbours. In a world that is shrinking by the day, there will forever be a tussle over land between species. Maybe we will never see them as our comrades but can we at least not treat them like our enemies?

About the Author
Manisha Hariharan is a businesswoman,corporate trainer,image consultant & writer.She is also a member of People for Animals,Wardha & most importantly a vegan.
manisha_pfa@yahoo.com

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Lifestyle Management -

Lifestyle Management workshops have become a regular feature for executives in companies.

Occupational Health Physicians & Industrial Psychologists conduct these workshops to help people with their overall health & wellness. The term ‘Lifestyle Management’ has become synonymous with ‘Weight Loss & Stress Management’. The advent of vaccines & antibiotics mitigated the threat of infectious diseases & led to chronic & lifestyle illnesses becoming the primary health concern. The notion of health & wellness emerged which gave a more holistic perspective of health.

What’s Wrong With Lifestyle Management?

Lifestyle management broadly involves lifestyle solutions from the viewpoint of physical & mental health of an individual. Most workshops provide insights on personal lifestyle, stress & ways to cope with it & improving interpersonal relationships through developing positive attitudes, behaviours & emotions. The focus is on self without regard to animals & the environment.

A Step Forward-

According to BC Atlas of Wellness (Miller 2007), the term wellness includes various dimensions such as physical, psychological/emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, occupational and environmental. Many factors contribute to wellness in a series of complex and interacting ways, but wellness, like health, is more than the absence of disease; it involves important subjective concepts by individuals about themselves. The BC Atlas of Wellness highlighted health as a resource for everyday living & gave a framework for better policies to be developed for nurturing human condition & spirit with regard to environment.

Sustainable Lifestyle -

Sustainability means consuming resources responsibly in tandem with production without causing irreversible damage to the environment. It’s about giving thought to what you should buy and consume. Most people do not practice sustainable lifestyles because they are not convinced about the impact of their individual attempts at sustainable living while the rest of the world continues to live in luxury. Companies indulge in a patch work of fitful practices under the garb of CSR initiatives without any long term commitment to change & often to get environmental credits only. Sustained commitment towards a sustainable environment is the need of the hour. Lifestyles are largely matter of individual values, beliefs & preferences. Long held beliefs & personal habits can be difficult to change unless there is awareness and a willingness to change. Empowerment is the way forward.

Veganism-Sustainable Lifestyle Management-

Veganism – Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes animals from the diet & use of animal products in daily life.

Veganism & Health - Studies show that a vegan diet helps in weight reduction .It also prevents & reverses lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease & other chronic ailments.

Veganism & Environment - A vegan diet helps to reduce your personal impact on a host of problems such as global warming, water scarcity, soil degradation, deforestation & world hunger.

Veganism & Conscience - Veganism is a conscious decision to abstain from the cruelty being meted out to animals across the world. It is conscientious objection to acts of violence against the millions of animals that are sacrificed to cater to a consumerist society.

Eriyah Flynn, the founder of Coalition for Planetary Health & Peace articulates it well by saying that, “veganism is not a binary issue of either health or ethics. There is tremendous opportunity to raise the level of consciousness about the true insidious and pervasive impacts of the single behavior of an animal based diet/culture”

Lifestyle Management is passé. A vegan lifestyle must be embraced as an all encompassing long term solution to end a host of worldwide problems. For sustained health & wellness of individuals & the planet, the new mantra should be Sustainable Lifestyle Management through veganism.

About the Author
Manisha Hariharan is a businesswoman,corporate trainer,image consultant & writer.She is also a member of People for Animals,Wardha & most importantly a vegan.
manisha_pfa@yahoo.com

Read More...

Veganism - Sustainable Lifestyle Management

Lifestyle Management -

Lifestyle Management workshops have become a regular feature for executives in companies.

Occupational Health Physicians & Industrial Psychologists conduct these workshops to help people with their overall health & wellness. The term ‘Lifestyle Management’ has become synonymous with ‘Weight Loss & Stress Management’. The advent of vaccines & antibiotics mitigated the threat of infectious diseases & led to chronic & lifestyle illnesses becoming the primary health concern. The notion of health & wellness emerged which gave a more holistic perspective of health.

What’s Wrong With Lifestyle Management?

Lifestyle management broadly involves lifestyle solutions from the viewpoint of physical & mental health of an individual. Most workshops provide insights on personal lifestyle, stress & ways to cope with it & improving interpersonal relationships through developing positive attitudes, behaviours & emotions. The focus is on self without regard to animals & the environment.

A Step Forward-

According to BC Atlas of Wellness (Miller 2007), the term wellness includes various dimensions such as physical, psychological/emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, occupational and environmental. Many factors contribute to wellness in a series of complex and interacting ways, but wellness, like health, is more than the absence of disease; it involves important subjective concepts by individuals about themselves. The BC Atlas of Wellness highlighted health as a resource for everyday living & gave a framework for better policies to be developed for nurturing human condition & spirit with regard to environment.

Sustainable Lifestyle -

Sustainability means consuming resources responsibly in tandem with production without causing irreversible damage to the environment. It’s about giving thought to what you should buy and consume. Most people do not practice sustainable lifestyles because they are not convinced about the impact of their individual attempts at sustainable living while the rest of the world continues to live in luxury. Companies indulge in a patch work of fitful practices under the garb of CSR initiatives without any long term commitment to change & often to get environmental credits only. Sustained commitment towards a sustainable environment is the need of the hour. Lifestyles are largely matter of individual values, beliefs & preferences. Long held beliefs & personal habits can be difficult to change unless there is awareness and a willingness to change. Empowerment is the way forward.

Veganism-Sustainable Lifestyle Management-

Veganism – Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes animals from the diet & use of animal products in daily life.

Veganism & Health - Studies show that a vegan diet helps in weight reduction .It also prevents & reverses lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease & other chronic ailments.

Veganism & Environment - A vegan diet helps to reduce your personal impact on a host of problems such as global warming, water scarcity, soil degradation, deforestation & world hunger.

Veganism & Conscience - Veganism is a conscious decision to abstain from the cruelty being meted out to animals across the world. It is conscientious objection to acts of violence against the millions of animals that are sacrificed to cater to a consumerist society.

Eriyah Flynn, the founder of Coalition for Planetary Health & Peace articulates it well by saying that, “veganism is not a binary issue of either health or ethics. There is tremendous opportunity to raise the level of consciousness about the true insidious and pervasive impacts of the single behavior of an animal based diet/culture”

Lifestyle Management is passé. A vegan lifestyle must be embraced as an all encompassing long term solution to end a host of worldwide problems. For sustained health & wellness of individuals & the planet, the new mantra should be Sustainable Lifestyle Management through veganism.

About the Author
Manisha Hariharan is a businesswoman,corporate trainer,image consultant & writer.She is also a member of People for Animals,Wardha & most importantly a vegan.
manisha_pfa@yahoo.com

Obesity - A Pressing Health Problem

We often wonder how first generation Indian children do so well abroad in the fields that requires intelligence. Could it be? As they have been brought up by their newly immigrant parents in the same tradition of vegetarianism as they were accustomed to at home? How come the second generation of Indian children settled abroad is not as bright as their parents – they are in fact the same mental level as any American children. Could it be because the third generation has been brought up on the typical western meat-fat diet?

The International Alzheimer’s Association once called a meeting to discuss new findings that this mental disease may be the result of meat eating. Alzheimer’s disease isn’t the only thing meat-eaters need to keep in mind when it comes to mental health. Research from the University of Toronto shows that high-fat diets of meat and dairy products starve the brain of its energy supply. Researchers believe that high-fat diets may hinder normal brain function by promoting insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is also a precursor to diabetes, another disease linked to meat consumption.

Carbohydrates effectively boost memory and brain function. Researchers have discovered that a breakfast consisting of mashed potatoes or barley can improve one’s memory. Animal foods have no carbohydrates. A diet lacking in carbohydrates essentially cuts off the brain’s main energy supply, which is sugar. Additionally, a scarcity of carbohydrates can impede the production of acetylcholine, a chemical involved in transmitting nerve signals in the brain.

Weight is important to mental health. Obesity can actually lower one’s intelligence. Experts say that obesity may damage brain function by making it harder for blood to reach the brain, similar to high blood pressure and heart disease. Additionally, social and psychological factors associated with obesity and overeating, such as depression and anxiety, may also be the cause of the decline in brain function seen in obese people.

The fact that obesity lowers intelligence is especially disturbing. One in five American adults are obese. Children are getting fatter for the same reasons that adults are getting fatter: The typical American diet, which emphasizes animal foods, is high in fat and cholesterol. One in five of all nine-year-olds is estimated to be overweight and one in ten obese - a rate that has doubled in the last two decades. Childhood obesity has led to the first cases of Type 2 (or adult-onset) diabetes being seen amongst teenagers and is linked to asthma and serious liver and kidney conditions.

Dieters who have replaced beef, pork, and chicken with fish are not immune to the stupefying effects of eating dead animals. Mercury poisoning from eating fish can also cause fatigue and memory loss, often called “fish fog”. Around the world, fish are accumulating toxic mercury in their flesh as a result of industrial pollution causing severe health problems for humans who eat fish, including brain damage, personality change and damage to developing fetuses. In contrast, vegetarians are less likely to be obese than their meat-eating counterparts.25 % of non vegetarian US children are overweight/obese. Only 8% vegetarian children are overweight/obese. Obesity in general meat eating population is 18%. By contrast 6% of vegetarian adults are obese and only 2% vegans.

This obesity epidemic is affecting children’s mental health. Overweight children not only suffer from psychological trauma but other mental challenges. In a 1980 study in Boston, researchers measured the IQs of vegetarian children. On intelligence testing, they were considerably above average. Western children on a vegan diet exhibited 19 more points of IQ than their meat-eating neighbours. According to research published in the influential Journal of the American Dietetic Association, in 1997 the average I.Q. of U.S. children are 97, while the average I.Q. of U.S. vegetarian kids are 116. In another study, published in the ADA's journal, pediatric developmental tests in vegetarian children indicated a mental age that was advanced more than a year beyond chronological age. In the position paper of the ADA on vegetarian diets, it states: 'Appropriately planned vegan and vegetarian diets satisfy nutrient needs of infants, children and adolescents and promote normal growth.'

Obesity is one of the most pressing health problems in the U.S. and will soon become the country’s leading cause of preventable deaths. This is not just an American problem. It is as much an Indian one. Meat-eaters are fatter. The easiest way to slim down for physical and mental health is to be vegan. Plant-based foods are naturally low in fat and are cholesterol-free. On average, vegetarians are 10 percent leaner than their meat-eating counterparts, and vegans (vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products or eggs) weigh 12 to 20 pounds less than both vegetarians and meat-eaters.

It’s easy to be vegan in India. Hundreds of vegetables, lentils and whole grains give you all the nutrition you need. Researchers have found that overweight people consume about the same number of calories as slim people—but that they don’t consume the same kinds of food. Animal products contain much more fat than plant-based foods—animal flesh, after all, is designed to store calories, which makes it one of the worst things that a dieter can eat. It’s possible to be a fat vegan, of course, just as it’s possible to be a thin meat-eater, but adult vegans are, on average lighter than adult meat-eaters.

Adopting a vegan diet won’t just help you slim down, it will also help you fight—and maybe even treat or cure—an array of ailments, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and more. Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University, the foremost epidemiologist in the world, states, “Quite simply, the more you substitute plant foods for animal foods, the healthier you are likely to be. I now consider veganism to be the ideal diet. A vegan diet—particularly one that is low in fat—will substantially reduce disease risks. Plus, we’ve seen no disadvantages from veganism. In every respect, vegans appear to enjoy equal or better health in comparison to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.” In 1986, the British Medical Association stated that, 'Vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, large bowel disorders, cancers and gall stones. Cholesterol levels tend to be lower in vegetarians.'

Eating habits are set in early childhood. It is much easier to build a nutritious diet from vegetarian foods than from animal products, which contain animal fat, cholesterol, and other substances, that growing children certainly do not need. Calcium, protein, fat, iron, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals – you can get them all in vegetables, lentils, wholegrain, beans, nuts and fruit. Adolescents raised on a vegetarian diet have fewer problems with weight, acne, allergies, and gastrointestinal problems than their meat-eating peers. Diets rich in meat, eggs, and dairy products reduce the age of puberty, as shown in a 2000 study from the Harvard School of Public Health, which found that girls who consumed higher levels of animal protein between 3 and 8 years of age get their periods earlier.

Children who acquire a taste for meat, eggs and french fries today are the cancer patients, heart patients, and weight-loss clinic patients of tomorrow. Dr. Benjamin Spock -- 'America's Pediatrician' advocates in his best-selling pediatric books vegetarianism from birth and veganism after age 2. Also, in a world that is so competitive, can you afford to have a child with less IQ because of the diet you force on him/her.

Maneka Gandhi

Pesticides in Agriculture

Every country in the world is turning organic, including Bangladesh. All except India where, in spite of groups of determined NGOs, the government persists in foisting chemicals onto farmers and giving them misleading information. We are the only country who has not joined the Stockholm Treaty. Our entire agriculture is run by chemical companies, multinationals and corrupt politicians and it doesn’t matter how many farmers commit suicide, how many go bankrupt, how many enter hospitals every day with cancer. It doesn’t matter how little our water is – because chemically sprayed crops need more water – or that we do not have the electricity to lift this water to the fields. It doesn’t matter that the children of the people who continue to allow chemicals on the land, also eat poisonous food every day and that our health problems due to these chemical laden foods are truly staggering. I once asked a business who owned one of the large insecticide plants in the country why he continued to
produce his poison when he know that it had no impact on pests , just on humans , birds and other animals. It gives employment, he said. That is the tragic answer that every bureaucrat and politician, every third rate scientist, gives. And when I argue that drug smuggling and prostitution, thuggery and terrorism give far more employment so they should be encouraged as well, they simply look away. The point is that a Monsanto sends their children to tennis schools in America and pays for their retirement benefits. Everyone knows that 5 years after 1958 when we started using DDT to control mosquitoes, they were completely resistant. In 2004 we continue to buy DDT from chemical companies, long after the world has abandoned it.

Here is an amazing success story from China. It comes in the light of all the crop failures that India continues to have and the money we spend on thousands of scientists to “discover” yet another chemical combination. How many cotton crop farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh? How many of these were due to the enormous debts they had piled up by buying chemicals, water and electricity – only to have all their efforts destroyed by pests.

Worldwide, about a million people are directly poisoned by pesticides each year. The risks are greatest in developing countries where 99% of the deaths caused by agricultural chemicals occur. Many farmers cannot read the warning labels about careful use, because they do not know how to read or because the label is in a foreign language. The farmers may be totally unaware of the dangers of handling these chemicals. Often they don’t know that they should avoid reusing pesticide containers for food or water. And when they do understand the warnings, they often don’t have protective clothing or proper storage facilities.

The malaria story – an intensive pesticide campaign followed by new generations of pests who outlive any attempt to kill them – by now is a familiar one. It’s happened in efforts to wipe out insects that carry diseases, and it’s happened when farmers have tried to rid their fields of pests.

Nearly 25% of the world’s pesticides are used on cotton – in the United States nearly 50%. But despite this massive bombardment with chemicals, yields are declining in much of the world. In the United States, cotton growers have given up vast acreage of cotton when pesticides became too costly and ineffective. With chemical dependence, shrinking yields, and decreasing income from crops, the cotton picture is a grim one for the US, China- which is the world’s largest producer- and India.

Cotton is the chief crop in Hubei Province. People who work in the cotton fields of Hubei Province once relied solely on pesticides. But even as they spent more and more money on them, they saw their harvests dwindle, and sickness increase. One of the chemicals, parathion, was used heavily on cotton and food crops. Parathion killed more than fifty farm workers who have handled it. By drifting through the air or collecting in groundwater, it has poisoned many more people. India continues to use it.

Nearly two thousand years ago, in the orange groves of China, farmers came up with a new way to do battle with insect pests. Beetles, mites, and stinkbugs plagued their trees. Farmers would release ants among the trees, and the ants would dine on the uninvited guests. The farmers knew which species of ants to use – how to breed the ants – and the ideal time of year to put them to work. Dr. Zhao Jingzhao, President of the University of Hubei, has renewed the use of this ancient technique.

The main cotton pest in China as everywhere is the boll weevil .Fifteen years ago Zhao found that spiders were the best answer. He conducted a nationwide survey analyzing the range of different spiders active in cotton fields. Rice paddies, fruit trees and corn fields were also studied. In looking for natural predators to control cotton pests, Dr. Zhao found 600 predators, more than 100 were varieties of spiders.

After Dr. Zhao and his colleagues selected the best spider for the given region they faced the challenge of finding ways to maintain the spider population. Spiders cannot be bred in captivity as they eat each other.

So, in Hubei Province, cotton is planted after the wheat harvest. During the harvest, and in the winter, they dug shallow holes and filled them with grass and also put grass among the branches of plants. The spiders stay in these grassy areas and when the cotton bloomed, they came out and ate the pests. A truly simple and inexpensive method.

Zhao started training farmers to identify the spider. By setting the spiders loose in their fields, the farmers found their crop yields increased. They have cut down on chemical use by 80%. One difficult associated with integrated pest management was the cost of providing a continuous diet for the predators, when supplies of pests fall. Tide-over artificial diets for beneficial insects need to be provided. Dr. Zhao spent several years developing such a diet for spiders. He tried dozens of ingredients before he found a combination that worked. The ingredients are simple – egg, honey, and sugar, several vitamins and enzymes, milk powder, and water.

Zhao encourages farmers to think of a farm, not as a short-term factory that produces a single annual product, but rather as part of a diverse ecosystem that has to be there for the long haul. He stresses the importance of planting a variety of crops rather than just one, that it is crucial to preserve and use a variety of seeds, and that it’s the ecologically healthy, balanced agricultural system that works.

Farmers in other parts of the China, inspired by Zhao’s success, are applying integrated pest management to cotton and to other crops as well. Zhao’s discovery of a successful natural means of controlling the boll weevil, a centuries’ old problem, can now benefit cotton growers not only in China, but India as well. Cotton farmers throughout Hubei now use fewer pesticides, yet produce bigger crops. Their standard of living is improving. They now spend less money on pesticides and make more from their crops, and they have fewer health problems. The United States is now consulting with Zhao and his colleagues for their own pest management for cotton. Why doesn't our government invite them here to work with us?

Maneka Gandhi

Birds in cage - Your desire for a live toy that keeps breeders in business

I was in Nagpur last week. I was told of an illegal bird market and so I went on Sunday morning. I saw hundreds of small cages with budgerigars and pigeons in them. Of course the team of People for Animals, Nagpur took the birds and went to the police station. The police helped them – even though they had been mute spectators of this market every week. But as usual the forest department people, who are illiterate and wicked most of the time, refused to take the birds as they were foreign – obviously they had never heard of the Gujarat judgment which says that no birds can be sold – specially not love birds or budgerigars.

But what broke my heart was this: I was looking at the bird cages and I saw a budgie crouching in the corner. She looked unwell so I put my hand in and took her out. She had no legs at all; obviously the result of inbreeding and over-breeding. As I held her in my palm, she flew off to a tree in front. This brave little creature could not sit on the branch because she had no legs so she clung with her mouth to a leaf till her grasp weakened and she fell down on the road. We picked her up and she tried weakly to fly again but she went back into a special cage and I do not think she lasted the day.

Do not buy love birds and budgerigars. Both originally came from Australia and Africa but they are now grown by dealers in Kolkata and sent illegally through the railways, in packed cardboard boxes with little holes for breathing, all over India. Many of them die from the lack of oxygen.

Lovebirds are social and affectionate small parrots. They live, in nature, in small flocks and are monogamous. They pair for life, sitting only with their mates. They do not live very long when separated: like humans they pine. But the dealers and you the buyer, encourage this terrible hardship on them. In nature, they live upto 15 years. In captivity, one to two at the most. They are bred by dealers for their colours. If blue is the fashion or the order placed, then all the babies that are not blue are killed by the breeder.

Many lovebirds are captured and brought into India by smuggling them through the Kolkata port. Captured wild lovebirds don’t last very long and they die mourning the loss of a mate or a flock.

Many people keep lovebirds without understanding their needs. Single-sex birds are bought because they look pretty together. They can’t mate, don’t interact and die of loneliness. Determining a lovebird’s sex is difficult. After it is a year old it may show behavioural signs - females rip papers and males vomit. But this is mainly hearsay and is not a reliable indicator. The only sure method is DNA testing. No seller knows anything at all and he will say anything to get the bird off his hands.

Birds kept individually or brought up hand-fed require frequent attention to stay happy, and if the owner has limited time to spend daily with a single lovebird, they wilt. Since they are social birds, they require companionship the entire day. No one who keeps a bird spends any time at all with it except to call its name while passing by and occasionally poke a finger into its cage.

Lovebirds require large cages of more than a metre each way per bird. Their beaks are made of keratin, which grows continuously. Chewing and destroying wood toys and perches helps to keep beaks trim. They need cuttlefish bones to help provide beak-trimming, calcium and other necessary minerals. They require plenty of toys, such as branches, swings, tunnels, boxes and safe things to chew on and play with. Lack of toys, keeping the birdcage covered too many hours, and lack of companionship or social stimulation leads to boredom, stress and psychological or behavioural problems (nervousness, aggression, feather-plucking, screaming, depression, illness). Lovebirds are intelligent, enjoy baths and like to sun themselves daily. No buyer knows this or cares. He simply wants a noisy pretty bird to keep his children amused – till it dies.

Lovebirds are vegetarian. A fresh mix of various seeds, grains and nuts: millets, canary seeds, peeled oats, safflower, barley, amaranth, uncooked rice, linseed , hempseed , buckwheat, wholegrain bread, cereals, fruits, lentils, weeds, pulses and vegetables, peas, beans ,cauliflower leaves, cabbage leaves, chicory, collard greens, dandelion leaves, endives, mustard leaves, wild grass, sprouted beans, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds – are to be given everyday. How many owners do this? They eat flowers : carnations, chives, herbs' blossoms, hibiscus, honeysuckle, impatiens, lilac, nasturtiums, pansies, passion flowers, roses, sunflowers. Many lovebirds die of malnutrition.

So many of the lovebirds are children of different species. They are sterile hybrids – and the breeder deliberately does this so that no more are born to the buyer. People are so strange that when their bird dies, they immediately want to buy more – because otherwise the cage will go waste - and the breeder needs that to happen.

Everything I have said so far applies to the budgerigar, also commonly sold in illegal pet shops and bazaars. It is a small, long-tailed, seed eating parrot which is captured from Australia and brought here where it is grown in the slums of Kolkata. Budgerigars are naturally green and yellow with black, markings on the nape, back, and wings, but have been bred in captivity to become blue, white, yellow, grey– more than 32 different shades. They are the most mutilated birds and, like dogs, those that are not exactly as the breeder wants them to be are killed immediately. You will see them with crests and mixes of strange colours – all of this is unnatural. So many have now eyes that are bigger than normal and squashed faces and tiny legs. Budgerigars in their natural habitat in Australia are noticeably smaller than those that have been bred. Since these are bred to be bigger and fatter with puffier head feathers, their legs can hardly hold them up and the eyes and beak are sometimes completely obscured by the feathers. In the wild they live 20 years. In captivity, under the best conditions of diet and exercise, 2-4 years. They do not produce children without a nest box.

These birds will be eaten by kites and other large predators if you release them. So they are condemned to a life in captivity. It is your desire for a live toy that keeps breeders in business.

Please don’t buy lovebirds or budgies, and inform me about any markets that they are sold in.

Maneka Gandhi

Smoking and How It Affects Your Pets

You don’t want to give up smoking for your own health or because you smell or even if people look down their noses at a lower class habit. Would you do it for your companion animals?

Cats living with smokers are twice as likely to acquire malignant lymphoma as those in non-smoking households, reports Tufts University and Massachusetts University scientists. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology entitled "Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Risk of Malignant Lymphoma in Pet Cats” links second-hand smoke to cancer in cats. Feline lymphoma is the most common cancer in domestic cats.

All household pets are exposed to the same environmental contaminants as their owners. In fact their exposure levels might read even higher than those of human household members who can spend time away from the home Cats not only inhale smoke, they also ingest particulate matter by licking it from their fur while grooming. The number of household smokers also appears as a factor with nearly a double relative risk for cats living with one smoker and four times the risk for cats living with two or more smokers. The risk increased according to the duration and level of the cat's tobacco exposure. Cats living with humans smoking a pack or more a day had a three-fold increased risk.

Nicotine poisoning is not uncommon – a smoker who feeds something to his dog or cat after he has smoked a cigarette can kill them. Tobacco products can be fatal to dogs, cats, fish and birds if ingested. Signs of nicotine poisoning car develop within 15 to 45 minutes and include excitation, salivation, panting, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of advanced stage nicotine poisoning include muscle weakness, twitching, depression, collapse, coma, increased heart rate and cardiac arrest.

Veterinarians have long known that cigarette smoke is irritating to the respiratory system and can cause problems for dogs and cats, including lung cancer, asthma and allergies. Dogs living in a smoking household have a 60% risk of developing lung cancer.

Overall dogs and cats exposed to secondhand smoke have a nine times increased chance of developing lung disease than the humans in the household. Dogs and cats have much smaller lung capacity than humans so the smoke has a relatively greater impact on their lungs. Smoke and particles in smoke gravitate and concentrate at floor level, right where your dog and cat are breathing. Cats and dogs ingest particles into their systems when cleaning themselves.

Of the 4,700 toxic substances in a cigarette, 43 are carcinogenic such as benzene, ammonia, 4-obiphenol, butadiene, and benzopyrene, crotonaldehyde , lead and cresol. 1-aminonaphthalene causes lung, liver and leukemia cancers in animals and is toxic for fish. A dose as low as 0.05 mg causes tumours. Acetaldehyde causes cancer in animals .Small amounts of acetaldehyde irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract of animals and interfere with the exchange of nutrients from the mother to the placenta, resulting in growth retardation, malformation and death of the fetus. Carbon monoxide causes decreased birth weights, fetal damage. Nicotine in tobacco smoke is absorbed almost instantly by inhalation, ingestion and skin contact and can result in seizures, vomiting, growth retardation, reduced body weight and brain development in animals. Acrylonitrile leads to deformation in the fetus and Toluene depresses the central nervous system.

In 1992 a study entitled, “Passive Smoking and Canine Lung Cancer Risk”. And in 1998, titled “Cancer of the Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinuses and Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Pet Dogs”. found that skull shape had an effect on the risk of lung cancer in dogs. Dogs with long noses (like German shepherds, collies) have a higher risk for nasal cancer and dogs with short noses (like pugs) have a higher risk for lung cancer. Some of the warning signs of lung cancer in dogs include chronic coughing, weight loss and abnormal fatigue. Warning signs of nasal cancer include swelling over the nose or sinus area, sneezing and bloody nasal discharge.

Birds have a very extensive respiratory system made up of specialized lungs and 9 air sacs. Canaries were kept in coalmines as ‘sentinels’ because they were more sensitive to the poisonous gases or lack of oxygen in the air. If the canary was dead, the miners knew they better get out fast! Because birds are more sensitive than humans to such gases, anything that adversely affects humans such as cigarette smoke is significantly more risky to birds.

Veterinarians have long reported that exposure to cigarette smoke is a common cause of respiratory problems in birds. Some of the clinical problems include conjunctivitis, sinusitis, air sacculitis, rhinitis, and dermatitis. It has been found that the butadiene exposure caused arteriosclerotic heart disease in birds. Bird keepers still expose their birds to these harmful substances even if they only smoke outside. When smoking, toxic substances in the smoke settle in your hair, clothes and hands. Birds are exposed to these substances when you walk back in your home. Birds absorb materials through their skin, such as topical steroids.

The pollutants settle on birds' plumage. Pet birds living in such a home will have feathers that are dull and dark, often feeling greasy to the touch. Their normal attempts to preen and keep the feathers in good order will be in vain, and they will end up over-preening and plucking themselves in attempts to get rid of the noxious deposit. Most parrots that have become bald because they have pulled out their feathers are the direct result of cigarette smoking in the home. So are itchy feet causing the bird to chew the skin on its feet developing scabs and secondary infections?

The nicotine that is swallowed in the preening process will poison the bird, leading to digestive malfunction and nervous signs. Birds that are handled frequently by nicotine-stained fingers will not only have permanently dirty plumage, but the chemical will often act as a direct skin irritant.

When birds inhale the smoke, the tars, nicotine, and hydrocarbons settle in the lungs and air-sacs. Blood pressure will rise, lungs will function with reduced efficiency, and the heart will become damaged by the toxins and the extra work it has to perform. A bird that suddenly dies of heart failure in a smoker’s home will have congested and black air-sac membranes and lungs. This is known as anthracosis.

Anything that applies to a bird will also apply to fish. There have been hundreds of cases where fish have sickened and died for no other reason than that the aquarium owner has changed the water with nicotine stained hands or has transferred the fish from a plastic sac to the aquarium – and the plastic has been held by smokers or someone has smoked in a room. Fish that are put in glass prisons in offices, shops and airports – as they are in India – have short and miserable lives, dying of nicotine.

So if you won’t stop smoking for the people in your house – do it for the animals in your care.

Maneka Gandhi

Alzheimers Disease

When I was Minister for Social Justice there were demands for giving grants to build Alzheimer’s disease Homes - a disease unknown in India till the 1970s. In the West the first 150 cases happened in 1948, rose to 600 by 1978. Now there are 500,000 cases in the U.K., 250,000 in Canada and 4.5 million in the U.S. 10% of people over 65 in the US have it and 50% of 85 year olds. It is now very much in India – which means homes have to be set up as it is almost impossible for anyone to look after an Alzheimer’s patient for a long time.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible brain disorder in which a person loses his capacity to reason, think, recognize and function. The disease progresses from mild forgetfulness to death in just 8 years and is most prevalent in people over the age of 65. 55% of all senility cases are now Alzheimer’s.

Is it to do with old age? If so, everyone would get it. But, the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that very poor people in Nigeria/India are far less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than their relatives in New York, Obviously it is a lifestyle related disease.

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. It is caused by sticky plaque-like deposits and neurofibrillary tangles that kill off brain cells until all memory disintegrates. Ultimately the patient dies.

What is the cause of this deadly epidemic? There is no mention of anything that could be considered Alzheimer’s disease in any medical or other literature before 1900. In the last 100 years, Alzheimer’s disease has gone from non-existence to a disease that affects 12 million people yearly and kills 200,000 people.

Dr Murray Waldman is the coroner of Toronto. He is a professor of Toronto University and medical director of a large rehabilitation hospital. His book Dying for a Hamburger has taken the medical world by storm.

He contends that Alzheimer’s is caused by a protein called a prion. The same prion that causes Mad cow Disease, (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE), variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), and other neurodegenerative diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs ).

Prions are misshapen proteins normally found in the nervous systems of animals. When prions come into contact with normal proteins, they cause these proteins to become misshapen, too. As the chain reaction continues, more and more proteins become misshapen and begin to impair normal neurological functions. In all prion diseases the brain is clogged by dense deposits and dementia is the major symptom. The disease shows up only in later age. It is irreversible. All these factors are true of Alzheimer’s.

Waldman correlates the growth of the industrial meat industry (where cows are fed meat and chickens fed other chicken) and meat eating directly to the increase in Alzheimer’s. WHO’s figures correlate with Waldman’s theory. After researching the spread of Alzheimer’s disease, Waldman concludes that Alzheimer’s disease behaves like an infectious disease, not something congenital. He has linked the spread of the disease to industrialized nations that eat factory-farmed animal meats, saying that, just like mad cow disease, Alzheimer’s disease is the result of the modern factory farm and increased meat consumption in the last century. Till a few years ago scientists denied that mad cow disease could be transmitted to humans through beef. Now hundreds of people who ate infected beef have died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), with perhaps lakhs more at risk. Could the same scenario hold true for Alzheimer's disease?

Waldman shows that Alzheimer’s disease first showed up in medical records at about the same time that world meat consumption began to rise and makes a direct correlation between the levels of meat consumption and the number of Alzheimer’s disease afflicted across the world. In countries, where meat consumption is lower, Alzheimer’s disease is much lower than developed countries, where meat consumption is high.

The Alzheimer’s Society is the world’s premier body on this disease. Their head of Research, Dr Sorensen, refuses the prion theory (which is weird because the Nobel Prize winner Prof Stanley Prusiner who discovered prions agrees with Waldon) instead, he says that the factors that cause heart disease are the same that apply to Alzheimer’s.

This still makes meat the culprit. Saturated fat and cholesterol have been conclusively linked to heart disease and strokes. So have high levels of a substance called homocysteine and high blood pressure – all created by animal products.

Cholesterol is a waxy solid substance. High levels are found in meat, dairy, eggs, fish. Too much cholesterol damages the blood vessels as it deposits in the arteries. The only time vegetable fats carry cholesterol is when they have been altered by industry to be hydrogenated (hardened for shelf life) High cholesterol doubles the risk of Alzheimer unless you already have the Alzheimer’s gene ApoE in which case it goes up sixteen times. (Only 50% of people with the ApoE gene actually develop the disease – those who eat a high-fat diet during their 40s). 70% of people in the West, according to WHO have high cholesterol

In a 21-year study, investigators examined the association of cholesterol with brain plaques and tangles in people who had died of Alzheimer’s. They found a strong correlation between increased cholesterol levels and increases in the number of plaques and tangles in the brain, the two characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease.

Not only does meat and dairy consumption raise cholesterol, it raises the levels of an amino acid called homocysteine, which is now widely seen as a risk marker for heart disease. The American Heart Association has shown a clear association between homocysteine levels ,heart attack and stroke – and Alzheimer’s.

Boston University investigators have found that elevated levels of Homocysteine increases the risk of Alzheimer’s three fold. Homocysteine is formed in the human liver after ingesting another amino acid, methionine, found in animal food. High homocysteine levels make nerve cells weak and prone to premature death. Like cholesterol it causes deposits in the arteries and 100gms of chicken have more than 12 times of what your body needs. In Alzheimer's patients much higher levels of homocysteine were found than in elderly individuals with no cognitive impairment. In fact, now tests on levels of homocysteine are useful in *predicting* who might get Alzheimer's.

The only things that bring down cholesterol and homocysteine levels are vegetables, green leaves and citrus. People who adopt a diet free of meat, eggs, and dairy products can drop their homocysteine levels by 20% in one week. This is because folic acid, a B vitamin found in whole grains, green vegetables, beans, and other plant-based foods, helps convert homocysteine to another, more useful amino acid.

In a study, reported at the World Alzheimer's Congress in 2000, researchers looked at 5,395 elder individuals who were free from dementia in 1993 and again in 1999. “People who remained free from dementia had consumed higher amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and vegetables than the people in the study who developed Alzheimer’s disease”.

The same findings have been reported at Case Western University School of Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland, Ohio, and St. George's Medical School in London. Scientists at The Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing have brought out an ideal menu: it is entirely vegetarian with no milk products. WHO recommends stopping animal based food as exchanging red meat for white, full cream for skimmed, butter with margerine – reduces less than 5% cholesterol.

Why do our doctors not look at prevention – simple, there is no money in that? Medicine, pharmaceuticals and hospitals are huge business. Why do medical colleges not teach nutrition anywhere in the world? If prevention became the norm who would need doctors?

Maneka Gandhi

The Ugly Facts About Beautycare

Beauty products that are routinely creamed onto faces, rubbed into hair and splashed over bodies contain toxic ingredients that are known to cause severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, fatigue, nervousness, headaches, nausea, lack of concentration and cancer. There are 800 such ingredients that personal care products use in varying degrees and combinations. The other shocking fact is that some of these ingredients are also used in pet and human food. including all popular salad dressings. The bonus scary thought is that some of these ingredients are also used in skin care products by companies who market themselves as natural including one worldwide famous company.

Apart from being personally dangerous, cosmetics cause terrible environmental damage. Most cosmetics include a fragrance manufactured from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause allergic reactions and may damage the nervous system. Chemical solvents, which keep substances.

liquid or help them dry quickly or make ingredients combine easily, are likewise an important component of modern cosmetics. So cosmetics entail the huge manufacture of noxious substances. And the manufacture of solvents and fragrances is not just a problem for the user -- it's also bad news for plant employees and the waste stream. Discarded cosmetics and their fellow garbage are either consumed by burning or squashed into a landfill. When subjected to heat or pressure, toxins may escape into the surrounding air, land, and water and attack the natural world with their potentially noxious properties The likelihood of escape depends on the security of the landfill (its lining, seals, and caps) or of the incinerator (its filters, scrubbers, and converters). Nail polish is among the worst offenders. There is no purely nontoxic nail polish, although some brands claim the title by reducing the volatile compounds and fragrances in the polish. Trouble is, you've got to get that stuff off your nails somehow, and we all know that stinky, eye-irritating acetone is the best solution. So if you are willing to give up one beauty product, make it nail polish. At least, paint your nails less frequently and in a well-ventilated room, and stay away from small beauty parlours where the fumes circulate freely.

What about that modern must-have – glitter? All that glitters is actually only normal everyday plastic, glass and aluminium cut into tiny shapes and sizes for cosmetics and crafts and therefore glitter has the longevity of other plastic, glass, and aluminium objects. So you can evaluate the environmental impact of carelessly strewing it around. Perhaps we require a whole new category of environmental offence: g-littering! Glass and aluminium glitter could lacerate certain tiny soil-dwelling invertebrates and glitter on the pavement will eventually get into sewer systems and end up in bodies of water. Other potential negative side effects of large-scale festive glitter tossing include inhalation hazards. Small glitter would count as particulate matter and may aggravate asthma and other respiratory ailments among participating or festivity goers.

Apart from their chemical ingredients of cosmetics, what about the environmental impact of their packaging? As glamour products the way they look is intrinsic to the promise they make, therefore cosmetics such as lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, creams and potions come in extravagant packaging which is mostly unrecyclable. Apart from the glossy packaging that uses paper, cardboard, plastic, cloth, mirrors and ever more innovative inputs, all of which is simply tossed out, there is also the cosmetic container adding to the waste. Most of these products are available only neither in small portions and certainly none are available in bulk nor does one see economy-size lipstick arriving any time soon. What we need are more refill and incentive offers eg MAC cosmetics accepts old makeup containers with a return-six-get-a-lipstick-free policy. There is also the problem of perfume/deodorant dispensers which are mainly sprays which means more ozone-destroying CFCs.

Then there is bleach and hair dye. A strand of hair consists of a cortex surrounded by a protective cuticle. The pigmented cortex is what determines hair colour. It also holds your DNA and various proteins. The cuticle, a scaly covering, defends the cortex against all comers. In order to access the pigment in the cortex, hair-dye chemicals must first breach the cuticle. Some folks have genetically smoother cuticles that are harder to breach, while others have extremely porous hair. The rapid strike force begins with ammonia, which cracks the scaly walls and allows hydrogen peroxide to move into the cortex, where it shatters colour molecules and "lifts" the pigment. Together, these two chemicals will bleach your hair. In hair dye, they are joined by whatever new pigment suits your fancy. Ammonia is! Nasty. It can irritate your eyes and lungs, and at extremely high concentrations (much higher than required to make you look like Britney), it can lead to everything from convulsions to coma. And if something hurts you, it likely hurts others, who in this case include your hairdresser and the fish at the other end of the plumbing.

The need to crack the cuticle is what limits lightening the hair to serious chemicals. Heat also does the trick, which is why we are always told to sit in the sun after applying lemon juice. Lemon juice (an acid) and over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide are the best and least toxic alternatives to ammonia dyes, but their effectiveness relies on heat and repeated applications. Put juice on your hair, blow it dry, add more juice, blow it dry, juice, dry, juice, dry, etc., etc., and eventually you'll be blond. In other hair-colour news, hair-redecorating products have significantly lowered their ammonia content over the past 20 years, and if your hairdresser is a thinking person, she or he will be using less toxic brands. Also, there are herbal hair remedies like henna, aloe vera, shikakai and other plants and plant parts, ranging from chamomile to potato peels that purportedly colour or lighten hair.

As for buying "natural" cosmetics, just be sure you read the fine print and read between the lines and look for those sometimes meaningless but occasionally helpful terms and phrases such as "earth-friendly," "nontoxic," "no harmful fragrances," etc. Or search the web using these terms and see what products turn up. Beauty Without Cruelty has compiled a list of cruelty-free cosmetics. Many of these are likely to be less environmentally destructive too. You can get a copy by writing to Beauty Without Cruelty.

The bottom line: Cosmetics are bad for your personal environment, although their purported function is to improve said personal environment. And items that are toxic to the user are frequently toxic to the maker -- and toxic to the waste stream when you're done with them. Cut down on the toxics and you'll be doing everyone upstream and downstream on the makeup river a favour.

Maneka Gandhi

Cancer

Till a few years ago cancer – and specially any breakthroughs in curing it – hogged the health news headlines. Now, that space has been taken up by AIDS. But it is important to remember that even now cancer kills a thousand more people than AIDS.

Much of our research in India is derivative – based on the work done in the premier research medical research institutions in America. Our best cancer doctors depend to a large extent on solutions and medicines provided by America. So let me give you a few statistics on what America has achieved. The National Cancer Institute spends 3 million dollars a day on research. The American Cancer Society spends one million a day. In spite of that the death rate from the common cancers – cancers of the lung, colon, breast, prostrate, pancreas and ovary – have stayed the same or increased in the last 50 years. Every 30 seconds an American is diagnosed with having the disease, every 55 seconds an American dies of cancer.

There are two ways to deal with cancer:

  • To find the cure- and this, tragically, has taken most of the world’s time and money
  • To learn how to prevent it.

The Director of the National Cancer Institute was asked by the United States Senate Select Committee in Nutrition and Human Needs about how many cancers were caused by diet. He replied: Up to 50 percent”. Repeat the answer –up to 50 percent. And, what, the Senate wanted to know, are the dietary factors that influence cancer. Chemical additives ? Preservatives? Artificial colours ? No. These are not the chief culprits. Dr Gio B. Gori, Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Diet Nutrition and Cancer Programme replied: “The dietary factors responsible are principally meat and fat intake.”

Harvard University nutritional scientists hold the meat, dairy and egg industry responsible for many forms of cancer, chiefly breast and colon.

The journal of the National Cancer Institute noted that “there is not a single population in the world with a high meat intake which does not have a high rate of colon cancer.” The meat industry in America retaliated with “Populations that got colon cancer had hereditary predispositions”. But a study done on Japanese in Japan who ate less meat and were known to have less colon cancer and a study on immigrant Japanese who had embarked on the high meat patterns of their adopted country showed the latter had the same high colon cancer rates as the other Americans.

Still further research isolated two more factors:

  • the more fat people consume , the greater their risk of colon cancer.
  • the less fibre in a person’s diet the more likely he/she is to get colon cancer.

Meat, eggs and dairy products are high in fat and have no fibre whatsoever.

What does fibre do? It helps minimise the damage caused by animal fat. It acts like a broom sweeping things along in the intestine. Animal fats are solid at body temperature. So, if fibre is left out of the diet, this solid fat clogs up the intestines and the length of time your food takes to pass the large intestine increases (in any case the large intestine is far too long for meat. All meat eating animals have short chutes. We have the large intestine of vegetarian animals). The longer the transit time, the more opportunity for the bowel walls to reabsorb the toxins the body is trying to eliminate.

What is the fibre content of the following: beef, steak, lamb chops, pork chops, chicken, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, paneer? Zero. In contrast all vegetables, fruit and cereals (except white rice) have an excellent percentage of fibre.

How many India people in the cities where meat eating is far more prevalent get colonic cancer? The Indian Council of Medical Research, the premier cancer computing body in India did a study from 1990 to 1996 based on 5 cities and 1 rural area (Barshi). These are the findings from single, albeit the largest, hospitals in the areas:

  • Colon cancer is on the increase.
  • Males have about 1.5 times the incidence of females.
  • However it is the 10th leading site of cancer in females.
  • There is an upward trend of colon cancer.

Mumbai has the highest rate of colon cancer (845 male cases and 623 female cases in a single hospital) followed by Delhi (543 m and 357 fm), Bangalore and Bhopal. Compared to that the rural area, Barshi, had only 9 cases.

No one gets colonic cancer till they are after thirty. After that, the years of bad eating start taking their toll. About 2% of the female cancer cases and 4% of the male cancer cases in India are of the colon. What is the average survival rate for colon cancers? Five years.

So easily prevented!!

Maneka Gandhi

Puppy Biting

One of the most interesting professions and one that pays extremely well is that of dog trainer/handler/psychiatrist. A large number of pedigreed dogs that people take into their homes are brought up so badly that they become problems.

The family never blames itself – though, in every single case that we have investigated, it is the human’s fault. It is always the dog that suffers. It is tied up for the rest of his life, he is thrown out into the street where it starves to death, it is thrown into a shelter where it dies of a broken heart, or it is killed. If the family had simply gone to a dog trainer, he would have shown them where the problem lay and worked with both the family and the dog to bring about an understanding. There are thousands of trainers all over the world. In India, there are less than 20 – and the demand is for much more.

Anyway, till young people realise how lucrative and rewarding this profession is , let me try to answer one of the most common questions I am asked “I have a puppy and it is bites, growls, snarls,nips etc. What can I do to change its behaviour?”

To get control of your pup's biting, it helps to understand why puppies bite in the first place. Biting and mouthing are normal behavior for puppies. Dogs don't have hands so they investigate objects and their environment with their mouths. To a curious puppy, everything about this big world is new and exciting. He learns as he goes along. You can almost hear his thought processes as he discovers something he's never seen before: "Hmmm...what's this? [chomping on it] Something to eat? No? [Tossing it around] Can I play with it? Maybe! Can I make it squeak?"

Playing is also a normal learning behavior for puppies, especially play-fighting. Play-fighting with littermates and other animals develops reflexes, coordination and physical skill. It also helps them develop social skills and teaches them how to interact positively within their canine society, their "pack." And it's great fun for them. Sometimes their fighting and "attacks" on us appear frighteningly fierce but to them, it's just a game. Much like a group of kids playing make-believe games and pretending to be grown-ups, puppies have their own games and pretend to be "grown-ups," too!

A dog's ability to control the force of his biting is called "bite inhibition." It's a critically important skill that every puppy needs to learn, the earlier the better. At first, they don't know their own strength nor how sharp their little teeth really are. Puppies learn to control the force of their biting from the reactions of their mothers and littermates during play and especially play-fighting.

We can teach puppies about bite inhibition, too. A puppy is much too busy learning how to be a dog to take time to understand our human words and ways. That takes time and maturity. Mother dogs' methods, however, are very effective, obviously because they speak to their pups in the language they understand best !Lets copy a mother dog's actions.

Take a look at a mother dog disciplining her brood. When a playful puppy bites the mother hard enough to hurt, she squeals in shocked indignation. The puppy, surprised at her reaction, usually hesitates a moment, unsure of himself, then tries to bite again. The mother yelps even louder this time and whirls on the puppy, growling, showing her teeth and scowling at him fiercely. Then she turns her back on him and storms away, completely ignoring him and any further attempts to get her to play. A smart puppy picks up her clear message quickly: "if you can't play gently, I won't play with you at all!"

If the puppy persists or doesn't take the hint, the mother doesn't fool around. With a menacing growl and using her teeth, she grabs him by the scruff of his neck and gives him a shake. If he sasses back, she gives him another little shake, tougher this time. She doesn't let go of the pup till he's acknowledged her authority by relaxing his body, laying his ears back and keeping still for a moment. The mother disciplines especially obnoxious puppies by knocking them over with her online pokies paw and pinning them to the ground, growling angrily and pinching them with her teeth. The puppies shriek but they're not really hurt. She doesn't let them up again until they relax and lie still. After the correction, the puppy shakes his fur back into place and goes off in search of a playmate with a better sense of humour.

Sometimes the mother picks out certain puppies for a little "extra" correction two or three times a day. She'd roll them over, pin them down for no apparent reason, growling at them if they didn't lie quietly. The puppies she chooses are the most outgoing and dominant in the litter. She gave them regular reminders of her authority and the behavior she expected from them.

The next time your puppy bites you, scream "OW!" in a high-pitched voice. Exaggerate a little. Then refuse to play with him or pay attention to him for a few minutes. If he doesn't get the message, give him a little scruff shake and scold him in a low-toned, threatening voice. Sound meaner than you really are. For puppies that just won't quit or seem to get wilder with every correction, flip them over on their backs, scold them in that same low, scary voice and gently but firmly, hold them in that position until they stop struggling.

We sometimes give puppies the wrong message about biting by some of the games we play with them. Wrestling and tug of war can encourage a puppy to bite and make it hard for him to distinguish when it's okay to use his teeth and when it's not. To make it easier for your puppy to learn good manners, avoid these games.

Puppies learn bite inhibition and authority between five and eight weeks of age through play with their mothers and littermates. This is an especially good reason not to get very young puppies. Puppies acquired earlier need to be taught these important things by their owners. They might require a little more intense use of the mother’s methods than puppies that stayed with their litters longer. Puppies that receive little or no training in bite inhibition, either from their mothers or their people, may grow up to develop behaviour problems.

Next week I will tell you how to avoid dog bites in general.

Maneka Gandhi

How To Help Animals In Pain?

If animals had voices, what would they say when in pain?? We talk of higher human attributes towards fellow human beings, but become unconcerned the moment we have to deal with animals. We do not even stop to look into the eyes of an ailing animal and miss the thousand words it speaks. Put yourself in the place of a species that needs you and learn how to alleviate its’ misery.

A basic knowledge of the primary ailments that affect animals and relevant tips to deal with common situations would solve over ninety percent of animal care needs. Therefore, it is important that every.

animal lover know about the basic first aid kit, about disaster preparedness, have a safety & evacuation plan, be prepared for emergencies at home, have a first-aid guide, and possess basic information on what first-aid to administer during difficult situations.

The first step to any disaster prevention is disaster preparedness. Such a prepared facility can be equipped with ladders to enable quick escape through the roof. Cotton ropes, shovels, water buckets, flashlights or lanterns, blankets and a minimum of 100 feet of hose can be kept ready. Similarly, restraining equipment like cotton halters, blindfold, fence panels, along with portable first-aid kit, and powered radio are important constituents as well. Once the facility is in place, one can develop a safety and evacuation plan to outline each type of disaster and determine optimal solutions. Besides including a list of resources such as trucks, trailers, the pasture needed in an evacuation, a list of qualified people and institutions is also required. Water and adequate sources of feed should be identified before a disaster, knowing that most herbivorous animals are going to daily eat approximately 1-2% of their body weight.

Emergency preparedness in one’s house would entail identifying any deviations from the norm, keeping the vets’ phone number handy within the access of all family members, learning how to handle and transport sick or injured pets, and learning basic facts about conditions that might affect one’s pet. It is also a good idea to keep in the first-aid kit, the name, age, breed, and sex, identification, and vaccination records of the pet.

A good first-aid kit should contain muzzles, protective gloves, thermometer, antibacterial soap, ointment, sterile rinse solution, clean syringes, pen light, blanket for pet transport, adhesive tape, medical gauze and rolls, scissors, tweezers, sterile needle (to remove splinters and ticks), eyedropper, nail clippers, pet comb, disposable safety razor, at least 2 towels, small blanket, bandanna and/or nylon stocking, strips of cloth, hydrogen peroxide 3% USP, activated charcoal tablets, Betadine solution, and rubbing alcohol.

The animal casualty scenarios would include car-hit cases, poisoning, wounds, burns, choking, drowning, electrocution, insect bites and stings, itching, rashes, and heat strokes. Each of these scenarios requires a distinct understanding of the first-aid methods. For example if an animal is hit by a car, or sustains high-impact injuries, it becomes necessary to keep the animal as steady as possible. Therefore, the animal can be placed on a firm surface, such as a plywood board or in a blanket. On the other hand, if the animal has been poisoned then it is advisable to induce immediate vomiting by giving it household hydrogen peroxide 3% USP or activated charcoal. If the ingested substance is kerosene, an acid or alkali, or a corrosive, then give the animal milk to dilute the toxin in the stomach. As cats groom themselves, they may ingest poisons such as sprays that get on their fur. Hence, it is better to wash a cat’s fur. An animal with physical wounds and trauma must be handled carefully, as it may bite. If there is bleeding then place clean gauze and apply direct pressure on the bleeding area for at least ten minutes till the bleeding stops. Avoid tourniquets unless absolutely necessary. In non-serious trauma, the first-aid must be given by cleaning and sanitizing the area, and then applying a bandage before taking the animal to the vet.

For burn injuries, flush the area immediately with lots of cool running water and apply an ice pack for about twenty minutes by wrapping it in light towel. Acidic burns are neutralized by rinsing with a solution of baking soda and water, while alkaline burns are counteracted by a weak vinegar-water solution. Olive oil can also be applied. If the animal is choking open the mouth and try to pull out the tongue to check for obstructions. Sweep inside with a finger if you cannot see anything. If you see or feel the object, remove it if you can without causing throat trauma. Do not apply too much force or you may injure the animal. To resuscitate the animal, place your pet on a flat surface, open his mouth, pull the tongue forward, and clear away any debris in his mouth. If the animal is still in distress, hold him by his hind legs and gently swing him back and forth in an attempt to clear the water from his lungs and stomach. If the pet is too large to lift, place him on his side and press upward on his midsection or abdomen. If your pet has been electrocuted and is conscious, then rinse his mouth with cold water, and perform rescue breathing using mouth-to-snout resuscitation. Wrap the animal in a blanket to help prevent shock, and take him to the vet immediately. Insect bites, stings, itching, and rashes can be rinsed and soothed by a solution of baking soda and water. Also, mix a teaspoon of Epsom salt in two cups of warm water to bathe itchy paws and skin. If the animal is suffering from a heat stroke, get your pet inside and place a cool, wet towel over him or submerge him in cool or lukewarm water without ice. Provide drinking water, but do not force the animal to drink. You can apply rubbing alcohol on the skin as a cooling agent.

If the animal is not eating, is depressed, has diarrhea, or any respiratory symptoms then check on its’ temperature. A low temperature may indicate the advent of shock. The normal temperature for cats and dogs is on an average 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Below 99 degrees is too low and above 103 degrees is usually a fever. A heating pad or hot water bottle is helpful, if there is any kind of shock, or low temperature. Take care so that the hot surface is not in direct contact with the skin or fur. Shock can result from acute diarrhea, hypoglycemia, blood loss from trauma, poisoning and many serious internal problems that might not be evident without x-rays or blood tests. If the animal is having diarrhea or displays signs of shock, such as low temperature, cold extremities, pale gums and weakness, then give him electrolyte mixed with water, every hour until it looks better. To check for signs of dehydration, it is best to take the skin at the scruff of the neck and raise it up between your fingers and thumb then let go. It should immediately go back down to normal. If it stays up for more than a few seconds, then give the animal oral re-hydration fluids. Young animals can be given a little honey with water, or glucose. The honey needs to be dissolved in a little hot water then some cool water added to make a solution that can be given with a syringe. To reduce stress during trauma a homeopathic sedative called Rescue Remedy may be given. It will often revive animals in shock.

The importance of even the smallest of precautions cannot be underestimated whilst saving the life of a living creature. It is, therefore, crucial to possess and disseminate primary knowledge of common ailments. This can help provide the basic first-aid to reduce the chances of an ailment becoming life-threatening.

Maneka Gandhi

Circuses: Cruelty On Show And How To Act Against Them

On March 2, 1991, the Environment Ministry ordered through notification the banning of performing animals in circuses. I was responsible for the ban on the training and exhibition of performing animals. The Indian Circus Federation went to court and managed to obtain a stay alleging that the notification infringed upon their right to carry on trade and business. The Attorney General was asked by the Ministry to contest the case and we all thought that since the evidence was so clear, since the breaking of so many laws was apparent, the matter would be over in a few weeks. By 1993, the case had come up several times and each time the Government asked for time.

The new minister, who was at pains to explain that he had not the slightest regard for animals, went on record on July 15, 1991, barely a month after he had assumed office, to say that the ban was unreasonable and should be withdrawn.

Why is it necessary to remove the existing animals from circuses and prevent more from coming in, and what can you do if these circuses come to your town? Let me try to answer. There are about 100 circuses in India, which come mainly from South India. Twenty-two of these belong to the Circus Federation which has challenged the ban.

What laws do circuses break?

According to Section 11 (a) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960) anyone who (a) beats, kicks, overrides, overdrives, overloads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or cause or being the owner permits any animal to be so treated; or (b) wilfully and unreasonably administers any injurious drug or injurious substance to (any animal) or wilfully and unreasonably causes or attempts to cause any such drug or substance to be taken by (any animal); or (c) conveys or carries, whether in or upon any vehicle or not, any animal in such a manner or position as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering; or (d) keeps or confines any animal in any cage or other receptacle which does not measure sufficiently in height, length and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement; or (e) keeps for an unreasonable time any animal chained or tethered upon an unreasonably short or unreasonably heavy chain or cord; or (f) being the owner, neglects to exercise or cause to be exercised reasonably any animal habitually chained up or kept in close confinement; (g) solely with a view to providing entertainment, he shall be punishable by a fine or a term of imprisonment.

Circuses violate almost all these provisions.

How are animals treated in circuses? I will elaborate in detail later, but the salient issues are: they are drugged and made to perform tricks twice or thrice a day. They suffer a lifetime of confinement in tiny cages, bumped from town to town, leading lonely, abnormal and unhealthy lives, without any veterinary treatment (no Indian circus has a travelling vet). They are kept hungry and tortured with whips and shocks. If we cannot stop these cruelties, what’s the use of having laws?

The Agriculture Ministry saw fit to issue a notification called the ‘Performing Animals, Rules 1973’ in which all circuses using animals have to register the animal with them and send a copy of the information to the Animal Welfare Board. They have to state the kind of animal, the nature of the performance and the apparatus used for the performance. If this is approved, the animal is registered for the circus. It is extremely surprising that circuses are able to obtain licences for keeping a large number of wild animals despite the fact that none of them have qualified vets to travel along with the animals.

Fitness certificates then have to be procured from the government vet in whichever town the circus travels to. One look at the animals in the circus shows that the government vet has probably taken a bribe and the certificate has become a matter of routine, with no relation to the condition of the animal or its fitness to travel, perform three times a day, or live in the cramped conditions it is confined in now!

Wildlife enjoys protection under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and the animals used in circuses—lions, tigers, elephants, leopards, bears, hippopotami, monkeys and certain birds—are all highly endangered and belong to Schedule I of this Act, which grants them the highest form of protection. Using them for entertainment and discarding them when they are too old—what kind of protection is that?

There is another reason for which the ban on performing animals must be carried through. Under the Wildlife Protection Act, wild animals with circuses have to be registered both at the time of acquisition and death. Strangely, no animal has ever died in the last 50 years! Death records of circus animals do not exist. Could it be that when an animal dies its skin is traded and the dead animal fast replaced with another, procured illegally?

It is sheer rubbish to claim that circuses breed their own animals. Animals—which are highly sensitive and emotional creatures—seldom breed under hostile conditions. Even in a zoo there is very little reproduction. This means the young animals that you see in a circus come from your jungles and are passed off as the young of circus animals. Circuses lead to increased poaching and the skin and tusk trade flourishes through these ‘entertainment’ centres.

Even before the notification was issued by me, we had contacted zoos and small sanctuaries to provide for the relocation of animals. Except for the 200 dogs—which I agreed to take—we found homes for all the animals. So the argument that the ministry now puts forward, ‘what will we do with the animals?’ is specious. Let them look at their own files.

The circus companies have argued that animals are an inseparable part of a circus without which the circuses would close. Out of the approximately two and a half hour shows of each circus, less than 20 minutes are animal acts! The display of animals in circuses is now forbidden in western countries and their circuses are doing much better than ours. If their ‘fundamental right to carry on their trade and business’ has been infringed (which it hasn’t because no one has argued for the closure of the circus, merely for the replacement of one tenth of its acts) then smugglers, pickpockets and poachers can also argue on the same lines because their arrest by the police infringes on their ability to carry on their nefarious trades as well! No one has the right to carry on a trade that violates laws passed by Parliament.

Circuses kill the feeling of compassion for all animals and their natural environment, thus they help people to forget their fundamental duty as described in Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution of India, ‘to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for all living creatures.’

Circuses have never performed any conservation role—on the contrary, they plunder wild populations in order to supplement their menageries. Now, at a time when excellent wildlife programmes on television are of inestimable value in presenting an educational and balanced view, the circus, by contrast, conveys the impression that animals are worthy of interest only insofar as they are capable of performing unnatural tricks. The circus strips animals of all dignity, respect and natural beauty, presenting them as freaks.

This distorted view of wildlife and its value is damaging to the whole philosophy of conservation, which holds that the health of the planet and, indeed, the long-term prospects for humanity, rely critically on our appreciation and maintenance of the delicate balance and diversity of the natural world. Crucial to this view is a respect for the value of wild animals in their natural habitats.

How can a half-drugged sloth bear, tied to a motor cycle with nylon cords, forcibly made to ride in the ring, throw light on its natural behavior pattern? Or for that matter what can de-clawed lions and tigers jumping through fire rings, and rolling barrels, or the elephant paddling a ‘four-paddle platform’ on all fours, or another elephant doing a head stand, or cockatoos and macaws with their beaks and wings clipped short turning a big wheel round with the aid of their beaks and claws teach us? That this is indeed their natural behaviour pattern? Do we want to teach our children to disregard the feelings of other creatures, to enjoy their suffering and imprisonment and laugh at the indignity and humiliation thrust upon them in the name of entertainment?

Circuses based solely on human artistry and skill can be enjoyable and entertaining. The Moscow State Circus, previously renowned for its animal acts, has successfully toured Britain without a single animal. The all-human circus ‘Cirque de Soleil’ of Canada has got rave reviews about its performances. Our own Indian circuses have artistes who have extraordinary talents.

How much more entertaining it is to watch humans voluntarily stretching their talents to the limit, than to see proud and noble animals reduced to submissive, debased caricatures of themselves!

In contrast, human artistes provide children with an example to be admired and can do much to stimulate their interest in activities such as gymnastics. Surely this is the right path to follow.

The central government has the power to make rules under Section 63 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and should use this power, specially when it comes to preserving and protecting India’s vanishing wildlife. If the ministry cannot fight the case against the circus lobby which has enough money to continue buying officials all over, let the minister take the notification to Parliament and have it ratified. He would be taking a giant step towards the preservation of India’s heritage.

Here are some examples of what the animals in these circuses are made to do and the condition they are in. Mind you they have to perform three times a day.

Gemini Circus:

  • We noticed both the year old lion cubs had round black scars in the centre of their foreheads. These looked like wounds inflicted during the course of their training. The same marks were found on all the lions in the Raj Kamal Circus.
  • A hippopotamus was brought into the ring, and made to walk around opening and closing its mouth for 10 seconds. One of its eyes had turned milky white as a result of a wound. Its two upper fangs were conspicuous by their absence and had obviously been pulled out.
  • A tiger was brought inside in a cage. It had a thick nylon rope tied around its neck. It was made to get onto a contraption which resembled a tricycle and with its hind legs on the cycle and the forelegs on the pedals, it was made to cycle once round the ring. It had small thin black scars all over its body.
  • A bear was tied to the top of the engine 10 minutes before the train started into the ring. The engine is on, emitting poisonous fumes right into the face of the bear. The train circles the ring for three minutes with the bear visibly struggling to get free and choking from the smoke. This train included two Rhesus monkeys which were tied to the roof of the train, who watched the bear panting, two pelicans and a lion which lay on its back motionless as though drugged. The event lasted five minutes.
  • An elephant—Manisha—was made to walk on her hind legs, which she did with great difficulty, in spite of the fact that she seemed pregnant. Then she was made to climb a stool on all fours and balance on two, and then one leg. While she was sitting on the stool and hesitating, the trainer raised his stick to her forehead. She closed her eyes and recoiled with fear. The other elephant who was ‘playing cricket’ had a damaged left eye.
  • Most of the 11 lions were young. They were made to do the usual tricks of sitting on high and low stools on their hindquarters for long stretches of time. Most of them were extremely reluctant to do their act but were ‘persuaded’ by two or three helpers who had big sticks in their hands and constantly hit the lions hard all over their body. What was common in all the lions was a hip disorder, whereby the hind legs and the lower spine are not as strong and muscular as they should be.

It wore a frock and held an umbrella in its right paw. The trainer walked beside the bear goading it with a stick and slapping it on its back. The bear’s eyes were absolutely glazed and it appeared to have been drugged. Its claws had been clipped extremely short. It had a nylon chord around its neck, which the handler held.

This sloth bear was then made to ride a motorcycle. It was put on to the seat of the vehicle, its fore legs tied to the handle. A nylon chord was tied around its neck and taken down from its back to the seat. The bear was panting and frothing at the mouth.

  • An elephant appeared with a cricket bat in its trunk. It hit out with the bat at a football which was thrown at its trunk. When it hesitated, the handler hit it with the stick. Of three other elephants, one had an injury on its right hind leg, and was limping, and the skin above the ankles of all three was rough and raw due to being constantly tied with heavy chains. Any one of the elephants not following instructions was poked and prodded with the stick.
  • There were four lions and two lionesses. The two lionesses were made to jump through the fire ring two to three times. They did so reluctantly, every time the handler raised his stick.

Three of them were made to climb a high platform and raise their forelegs. They were then made to lie on the ground and roll around while two handlers seized them by their tails changing their positions from side to side. The lions were in acute pain.

One lion was made, with a stick and whip with which he was constantly threatened, to stand on a barrel and roll it forward and backward with all four legs.

  • A very small black panther was let out of its cage in the centre of the ring, and made to climb a ladder to a high platform. Two platforms had been constructed about 12 feet apart. Two ropes, about 18 inches away from each other, ran parallel to each other from one platform to other. The panther was made to balance one hind and one foreleg on one rope and the other set on the parallel rope and walk from one platform to another with its legs parted in this abnormal manner. All the while, bright lights glared into its eyes, frightening and confusing it. It had a long nylon rope tied to its neck which ended in the trainer’s hand. A thin metal rope belt (like a harness) was fixed around its stomach and attached to the top of the tent, ready to hoist the animal up, in case it lost its balance.
  • A hippo was brought into the ring by a girl with a stick in one hand and two slices of bread in the other. She constantly poked and prodded the hippo with the stick, and it reluctantly opened its mouth wide, exposing a few teeth to the viewers. The girl threw the slices of bread into the mouth of the hippo, catching it off guard and almost choking it.
  • One elephant was made to climb on four legs, onto a round stool. Then it was made to balance on three, two and finally one leg. Next it was made to sit on the stool in human fashion and raise its fore legs in the form of a salute. The climax of this act was the headstand. This pathetic animal was made to stand on its head with all four legs up in the air, balancing its huge tonnage on its small head.

Tell me if a single one of these acts is natural, amusing or entertaining. Considering that only 20 minutes of each circus show of two and a half hours have animal acts, is it necessary to put these poor animals through such suffering? Is it legal, is it humane? Every time you visit a circus, you pay for the whips, the sticks, the ankush, the bars, the mutilations and the endless suffering of these jailed creatures. Does that amuse you or your children?

How They Live—And Die

Here is the report by a group that went round the animal cages in Gemini Circus. They were not allowed to take photographs—and for good reason. The circus has 10 elephants, 26 horses, eight camels, 32 lions, four tigers, two leopards and a hippopotamus, birds, dogs and other animals.

The cages of the lions and tigers were extremely small. The cats could hardly lie down straight. Approximate dimensions—4’ x 38” x 48” cage for an eight year old child, not a full grown lion. There was a strong smell of ammonia in the cat cages.

There were two Rhesus monkeys in a narrow cage. Apart from being caged, thick metal chains had been fastened around their necks and tied to the metals rods of the cage.

The hippo had been kept in a portable tanker filled with filthy, stinking water. The hippo requires a large dry area to move about. It does not remain in water throughout. There was no provision for its coming out of the water. In Delhi’s winter it would quickly freeze to death or die of lung disease.

The cats were being trained. The lions were inside the iron path, through which they enter the ring. This contraption is only two and a half feet and about three feet broad. The roof is a semi-circle. Next to this small trap three lion cubs were in a small cage next to the training enclosure. The cubs were refusing to go into the enclosure from their cages and were being beaten with iron rods.

The other lions had been separated into two areas within the pathway. Two lion cubs were in one division and one full grown lion and lioness together in the other division. They could hardly fit in and were restless. The lion was constantly pacing towards the training enclosure and seemed under great stress as he watched the cubs being beaten. His pacing and growling were controlled by a man who poked him with an iron rod. The physical, mental and emotional stress was too much for the lion to bear, and he turned around and attacked the lioness. All these lions had dried whip marks on their foreheads.

There were doves, macaws and cockatoos in small cages. The dogs too were in cages. A Spitz had a wounded eye which protruded and was milky white in colour.

Amar Circus pitched tent in Model Town. Here is an eyewitness account from a person who lived directly opposite the animal enclosures and kept vigil all the time they were there. She filed a written complaint with World Wildlife Fund:

‘They do not treat their animals well at all. The hippo is fed only a bucket of boiled potatoes and some dry grass a day, and that too if it is willing to perform. The lions are not given enough meat—only morsels are thrown at them.’

Not only are the animals in a bad state, but their living conditions are extremely cramped and unhygienic. The lions are locked in cages measuring 5.6’ x 5.6’ x 4.5’. The dogs are in cages 20” x 17” x 21”. Birds with clipped wings are squashed together in tiny receptacles.

At the Jumbo circus, the dirty cages of lions were being washed with water for the first time in a month. As the slushy water flowed in their cages the lions immediately tried to lap it up as they had not been given water to drink. No provision had been made for water bowls inside the cages or for the animals chained outside. They were fed milk in the evening after the last show.

It is unnatural to give milk to grown cats.

A mare had given birth to a foal, during transportation.

A white dog was suffering from an advanced stage of ear infection. Another dog had a big wound on the upper foreleg.

One Hobra (cross between a horse and zebra) had a lower hind leg wound.

Dogs were in tiny crates, covered with black plastic sheets.

The depth of the water tank for the hippo was four feet, but the depth of water was only two feet and three inches.

Tigers were in cages the same length as their own bodies, not long enough to stretch or freely turn around, barely able to move. They appeared drugged, because they did not respond to the team members going close or patting them on the their backs.

The camel’s body was covered with sores.

The bear on seeing the hooked metal stick in the hands of a man, crept to the corner of the cage and stood on its hind legs ready to perform!

The elephants are constantly chained—front two legs and one hind leg. The Hobra was made to stand all day long—its neck tied tightly to a stake in front and the hind leg tied to a stake at the back.

Justice Denied—Again

‘The hippopotamus, a water-loving, social, vegetarian mammal lay still on the dry ground surrounded by an iron rod railing. There was no water, no shade. The nearby newly built ditch was empty. It was time for his act. A man came and threw a bucketful of water. It turned his face to the left and thirstily tried to sip the water with his tongue on the side. Another man goaded him in his stomach with a long wooden stick to make him stand up. The hippo opened his mouth in pain and immediately stood up on his feet and his mouth hitting the railing. So he lifted his face upward and moved around anti-clockwise. Now he was facing the gate of the enclosure.

‘There was some fresh green grass kept on the right side of the enclosure. The hippo was very hungry. He moved forward but the man took the grass away. Two men held a rope on either side and tried to push the hippo with it in the direction of the tent. A man held the grass in his hands and moved backwards towards the tent. The hippo kept moving towards the grass and went inside the tent. After a few minutes his act was over and he came out running raggedly into the enclosure. His gate was closed and a small bucketful of raw potatoes (approximately five kg) and dry grass was thrown in. In less than a minute the hippo had gulped them down. That was his meal for the day. The hippo is kept hungry till the show is over. When the hippo refuses to go into the ring, the circus people don’t feed him. Then the animal bangs his head like a bell but does not get anything. Sometimes the food of the animal is stolen by the handlers themselves who take away the potatoes for their own families.’

This complaint, filed by a concerned resident, resulted in a check up by animal welfare workers and the SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.) As a result, a ditch was half-filled with water and a shade was erected for the hippo. But the water was never changed and stank.

KARE filed an official complaint on the basis of their own observation on November 8, 1991, to the Delhi SPCA. Typically, the DSPCA checked the animals the same day, but lodged their official complaint at Tiz Hazari courts, two weeks later. Something very strange happened:

The Metropolitan Magistrate R.S. Mahla gave the SPCA (which is a government-run body) a sympathetic hearing and the Zoo vet, C.K. Mondol was summoned to check the animals.

KARE and the SPCA complained that:

  • (a) The cages of the tigers, lions, leopards, panthers and bears are covered with large, solid metal doors from all sides, without ventilation most of the day and night.
  • (b) It was found that a pregnant lioness was being kept in a cage measuring 5.6’ x 5.3’. There was hardly any room for proper exercise and it was imperative that the lioness was not made to perform.

It was also found that one pelican had its upper front beak broken freshly. No proper care for this was provided and it was felt that the broken beak is the indication of cruelty that the bird was being subjected to in order to make it perform.

It was also detected that dogs were kept in extremely small cages measuring 17” x 20” x 21” for hours. A hippopotamus was being kept in a water tank measuring only 9’ x 8’ with depth of four feet and the water level was much too low. The water was filthy and there was no provision for fresh water to enter the tank and filthy water to be removed. It is a well known fact that the hippopotamus should be able to totally submerge its body in water so as to retain its health.

KARE summed up: ‘All the above facts prima facie make out an offence under section 24 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It is, therefore, requested that cognizance of the above be taken immediately.’

They also added that they suspected a small black dog at the Amar Circus to be suffering from distemper. They had taken along a well known veterinarian who confirmed their doubts.

The judge immediately restrained the Amar Circus from exhibiting the animals and directed that the cages and tank be increased and the water filled and changed regularly for the hippo and the pelican be taken into veterinary care. Less than two days later, the same judge stopped all proceedings against the same circus. His reasoning was that:

  • (a) the circus was ending soon;
  • (b) the pregnancy of the lioness could not be proved without conducting detailed tests of the animal;
  • (c) there was no proof that the upper beak of the pelican had fractured. (This is the most mysterious turnaround that I have seen in a country where allegations of judicial corruption are frequent).

What happened then? The pelican disappeared. Inquiries about his condition were fobbed off with, ‘There’s no bird like that in this circus.’ The hippo was not shifted to a larger and deeper pool. The water of the pool was not changed and its colour became darker than the hippo’s skin.

In the last four days of the circus in Model Town the hippo was not fed at all. He would go to the edge of the enclosure and open his big mouth in anticipation of food all the time. Not finding anything, he would return to the pool. He kept shuttling from the pool to the standing place, sometimes three times in 10 minutes. He tried to chew the cemented sides of the pool. At other times he was seen jumping high to chew the rope and cloth of the canopy with his mouth. Four days later the hippo did not have the energy to stand. The circus people loaded the helpless hippo on an Amar Circus truck to take him to the next town.

What You Can Do:

A 20-year old cow elephant, Lakshmi, belonging to the New Grand Circus, collapsed and died on the road in Chennai. An examination revealed that the pachyderm was suffering from malnutrition and exhaustion. This incident is not an isolated one. Every one of these 100 circuses has killed animals in similar ways.

Government licenced vets on the local level can only give permission for performances after checking that the animals have been given all the mandatory inoculations for their respective species.

You can, if you choose to register a local police complaint against the circus, ask for the immunisation charts to be produced. This means you have to look for charts for the following:

  • Inoculations for all infectious, bacterial and viral diseases. Special attention should be paid to T.B. and foot-and-mouth diseases.
  • Regular deworming of each animal.
  • Birds should have received the Ranikhet vaccination schedule in infancy and adulthood and vaccinations against common Asian diseases should have been given at regular intervals.
  • Dogs should have been given their anti-rabies, distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, leptosporiasis, para-influenza vaccinations and inoculations.

Obviously there should be a permanent vet, experienced in diagnosis, treatment as well as prevention of diseases of wild animals. The vet must possess an emergency first aid kit and be able to handle any such situation while travelling. No circuses without vets should be allowed to have animal performances. The animals should be given fitness certificates at every city and town they enter, not only by a government vet but by vets from recognised animal welfare organisations. Each animal/bird should possess an individual fitness certificate.

On entering a town, the circus should again get a temporary registration from the authorities: municipal corporation, police, wildlife department. The temporary registration should be on the basis of veterinary certificates for each animal, verified as suggested earlier, an okay given by the wildlife department that each wild animal has a registration certificate and that the number, sex, age etc. of these animals tally with those on paper.

There should be some size specifications for both travelling and habitation cages. Special attention should be paid to the type of flooring and roofing for each kind of animal/bird. They must be protected against the elements. The cages, specially of the big cats, should be made much bigger regardless of the fact that there is a case pending in the High Court. The tank for the hippos should be made bigger with more dry area for grazing. There should be a sort of filter system for pumping out dirty water and pumping in clean water. Pelicans and ducks should have a water pond for them to freely wade around in. Water should be provided in all animal cages at all times.

These circuses deserve to be harassed, just the way they abuse their animals. We will have to proceed through long lasting ways: by using society’s disapproval, economic pressure and through the law. Let me tell you what to do:

  • Don’t support circus cruelty. Don’t buy tickets to circuses with animal acts and discourage others as well. If a school is taking its children there, talk to the principal and dissuade him/her. Lodge your protests with circus promoters. This may not affect their behaviour but it certainly warns them that trouble is on the way.
  • Picket circuses and discourage people from entering. Get a group of people together, make placards, stand just outside the gates and shout if you like. Show blowups of mistreated animals. Hand out fliers with details of how the animals in that circus are being treated.
  • Report any abuse to your local commissioners of wildlife, TV and reporters and don’t let the circus settle into your town. Lodge complaints of cruelty in different police stations so that they get a visit a day. Let the police and the wildlife wardens take the measurements of the cages, see the food and water situation, the general health of the animals, the acts themselves. Make sure that you show the police the relevant provisions of the Animal Welfare Act and the new Wildlife Act. How many and how much can they bribe?
  • When the posters go up of the circus coming to your town, put up cancelled stickers over each poster.
  • Write letters to your newspapers and get as many people as you can to do the same. It would be good if you can get signature campaigns done and send copies to the Environment Ministry in Delhi.

Ministry officials, for reasons that I can only attribute as suspicious, have chosen to ignore the rules that they themselves have made into law. A sustained protest might make them realise that India’s natural wealth is more important than their own.

  • Show films of animal abuse on your local cable TV. This is a difficult one, so write to KARE as soon as you hear of a circus coming into town and they might send you (for a small fee) a video. It would be even better if you made your own and then we could use that all over India. This is what you do:

Find out where the animals are being unloaded and be there with a camera. Look out for these signs:

  • Are the animals kept outside or under a tent?
  • Does the tent protect them from weather conditions?
  • What is the cage size for each animal? Do they have space to stand, sit and walk around?
  • Is the animal supplied with any form of bedding? If disposable, has it been recently changed? Is there standing water present in the cage? Are the cages free of faecal matter? How often are the cages cleaned and with what? What type of food and water containers is being used?
  • Do they have clean water in bowls in the cage?
  • What and how often are the animals fed?
  • Do any animals have bald spots? Do any animals have sores or openings in their skin? Do they appear underweight, with protruding ribs, hips or backbone? Do they have damaged eyes or ears or broken legs? Are there any signs of physical abuse e.g. repetitive pacing, rocking or self-mutilation? Are any of the animals pregnant?

No big cats in the big top

Returning to the government as a minister again in 1998, I returned to the circus case. Typically, it had languished for seven years and was in danger of joining a pile of files that never go anywhere. I dusted it off and proceeded with it.

In October of that year, on the basis of a Committee recommendation, mu ministry issued a Government notification banning the use of five species of wild animals from being trained or exhibited. Tigers, lions, panthers, bears and monkeys could no longer be used by circuses.

In December 1998, the Delhi High Court (which has never yet disappointed me in an animal case) ruled unequivocally in the matter. In a detailed and well considered judgement, the court upheld the notification and dismissed the circus federation plea. Therefore, as of now, none of these five categories of wild animals may be part of any circus performance. Since the law involved is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, these categories are meant in their broadest sense. For example, monkeys mean all primates and so on. Violations of this order GSR 19(E) dated 14.10.98, can be prosecuted under Section 26 © of the PCA Act and punished with fine, jail term or both.

When a circus comes to town, be sure it is not using any of these species. If so, alert the SPCA (if one exists in this district), the SP, the DM as well as the Forest and Wildlife Department. The circus can have its permission to perform revoked, its owner arrested and the concerned animals confiscated to safe custody in the nearest zoo or national park.

So the law is there, now it is up to you to give it teeth.

Maneka Gandhi

Kamadhenu & Nandini

Kamadhenu and her daughter Nandini are the magic cows in our lives. Many of you will not have read about them and so you have not been able to understand their importance in the turn of events. Here are their stories for your children: Kamadhenu, also known as Surabhi, is a divine cow-goddess described in Hindu mythology as the mother of all cows. She is a miraculous "cow of plenty" who provides people whatever they desire. She is shown as white with various deities within her body. She is supposed to be venerated not through temples but through venerating her children as her earthly embodiment. How was she born?

Once the gods and demons decided to churn the ocean of milk to extract heavenly nectar, amrit, which would free them from death, In the course of the churning, first poison came out which threatened to destroy everything. Lord Shiva drank the poison. After that came Surabhi the wishful filling cow. Vasishta was the chief of the seven first sages (Saptarish) born of Brahma the Creator. Kamadhenu, the divine cow and her daughter Nandini could grant any wish. They lived with Sage Vasishta and supplied him with all the essentials needed for his rituals to the gods. The Vasus were eight attendants of Indra. When they visited Vashishta's ashram with their wives, one of the wives demanded Kamadhenu. The Vasus then prepared to steal the cow from Vashishta. They were caught and cursed by Vashishta that since they had the traits of men they should be born in the world of men. Vashishta later softened his curse on the intervention of Kamadhenu herself and pronounced that they would be liberated from their human birth as soon as they were born. The Vasus met Ganga and said Mother Ganga, we are doomed to be born as human beings.

Please take human form and become our mother and liberate us. Ganga took human form and met King Shantanu who fell in love with the goddess of the river immediately. Ganga married him on condition that he ask her no questions or interfere with her actions. She said she would leave as soon as he did. She had seven children and drowned each one as soon as he was born. All seven were the Vasus. When she was about to drown the eighth, Shantanu could not resist trying to save the baby. Ganga went back to her celestial home after explaining to the king that she had in fact liberated the Vasus and now, because of his interference, the eighth Vasu, Prabhasa, was destined to live on earth.

The baby was Bhishma and he became the main player of the epic war known as the Mahabharata. So, the desire for the cow Kamadhenu resulted in a stream of events that Vishnu himself had to take part in as Krishna. When King Kaushika visited Vashishta's ashram with his army, the sage fed the entire army with seemingly unlimited food. Kaushika asked the sage how he could have fed an entire army since his hermitage was so bare. Vashishta replied, "O king, this feast that you have partaken with your kinsmen, has been provided by my calf Nandini, who was gifted to me by Indra. You must know that she is the daughter of Indra's cow Kamadhenu. She provides me with everything I need". Kaushika immediately wanted the cow. After all, he thought, feeding an army everyday was very difficult and Nandini would solve that problem. He asked Vashishta if he could buy or take the cow. Vashishta was polite, but steadfast in his refusal. He would not be tempted by the offer of wealth made by Kaushika, for after all who can set a price on a cow, which yields all the riches in the world. Kaushika attacked the ashram with his army. Nandini created warriors for Vashishta’s defence and Kaushika was defeated. Kaushika then decided to acquire the powers of the gods through penance. After severe penances he obtained power and weapons from the God Shiva. Once again he attacked Vashishta’s ashram. Again he was repelled by Nandini’s magic. Kaushika then decided to become a rishi himself, and he renounced all his possessions and in time became Vishvamitra, one of the most venerated sages of Hinduism. He was also the father of Shakuntala who was the mother of Bharat after whom India is named. And all this goes back to Nandini King Dileepa and his wife Sudakshina of the Raghuvansha dynasty had no children. They visited the sage Vashishta in his ashram, and asked what they should do to have a child. Vashishta replied that they should serve the cow Nandini, daughter of Kamadhenu, and if Nandini was happy with their devotion, she would grant them with a child. Dileepa attended to Nandini for twenty-one days. On the twenty-first day, a lion attacked Nandini. Dileepa immediately drew his bow to shoot the lion but found his arm paralysed. The lion growled “You have no chance of saving a cow from a lion, mortal, so get out of my way”. Dileepa replied by asking if the lion would let Nandini go if he offered himself in her place. The lion agreed and Dileepa sat in front of the lion with his head bowed awaiting death. But the lion disappeared. Nandini explained that the lion was just an illusion to test Dileepa. Nandini granted him a son. Dileepa’s son Bhagiratha was the king who brought the Ganges to earth with his meditation and prayers – and all because of the cow Nandini. The Puranas state that it is forbidden to kill cows under any circumstances. Those who fail to give cows reverence and protection and choose to sell a cow for slaughter or kill her himself or permit the slaughter of cows will all rot in the darkest regions of hell for as many thousands of years as there are hairs on the body of each cow slain. There is no atonement for the killing of a cow. The cow is a goddess with her own personal heaven like all the other major gods. It is called Goloka. Think of that when you see the next truck at night carrying cows to slaughter. Have you done anything to stop the trade?

Maneka Gandhi

"Skin Care" And Cosmetic Products

  • If you insist on being seduced by TV commercials into buying “skin care” and cosmetic products, if you are the kind of person who needs to have make up on their face to be confident , then start reading the labels of the cosmetics before you buy them . These ingredients should be avoided as they are toxic.
  • The new buzz words for advertising personal care products are “ natural”, “ back to nature” “herbal” “eco friendly” – these terms are so loose that anything chemical and lethal is also included Many of these ingredients are used in skin care products by companies who market themselves as natural so start getting educated.
  • 1. AHA (alpha hydroxy acid):
  • Skin is exfoliated chemically instead of mechanically via abrasion, dries the skin and increases aging. Supposed to be anti-wrinkle, found in many skin and hair care products. Used as a solvent originally in cleaning compounds and for tanning leather. A smooth finish is developed by stripping the outer layer of the skin, irritated skin can puff up. All your Fair and Lovely type creams have this ingredient.
  • 2. Acetamide MEA:
    Used in lipstick and cream blusher to retain moisture. Causes adverse reactions, carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic.

    3. Alkyl-phenol-ethoxylades:
    Mimics estrogen. Used in shampoos. It is carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic. Causes adverse reactions. Reduces sperm count.

    4. Aluminum:
    Used as colour additive in cosmetics, especially eye shadow. Listed as carcinogenic, toxic and mutagenic.

    5. Benzene:
    Found combined with other chemicals in many personal care product and is a known bone marrow poison. Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.

    6. Coal Tar:
    Many kinds of shampoos designed to treat dandruff and flaky scalp contain it. Disguised with names like FD, FDC, or FD&C colour. Coal tar causes potentially severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, fatigue, nervousness, headaches, nausea, lack of concentration and cancer.

    7. Cocomidopropyl Betaine:
    Used in shampoo in combination with other surfactants. Synthetic. Causes eyelid dermatitis.

    8. DEA (diethanolamine):
    A synthetic solvent, detergent and humectant widely used in brake fluid, industrial degreasers and antifreeze. Mostly used in liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner. Can be harmful for the liver, kidneys and pancreas. May cause cancer in various organs. Irritates skin, eyes, mucous membranes. Found also in hair dye, lotions, creams, bubble bath, liquid dishwashing detergent and laundry soap Health risk especially to infants and young children. Forms nitrosamines known to be carcinogens. Causes allergic reactions and other contact dermatitis. Hazardous and toxic.

    9. Dimethylamine:
    Secondary amines cause allergic dermatitis. Carcinogenic properties.

    10. Dioform:
    Many toothpaste and other tooth whiteners contain it. Damages your teeth enamel weakening their protective shell.

    11. Disodium EDTA:
    May contain dangerous levels of ethylene oxide and/or dixane, both potent toxins. Also used as chelating agent. Carcinogenic.

    12. Hydantoin DMDM:
    Causes dermatitis. Acts as a preservative and may release formaldehyde and is a suspected carcinogen. Rats develop cancer when injected with this chemical.

    13. Fluoride:
    Hazardous chemical. Researchers linked it to cancer years ago. Fluoridated toothpaste is especially dangerous to young children who tend to swallow it after brushing their teeth. Scientists are now linking fluoride to dental deformity, arthritis, allergic reactions, can lead to Crohn's disease.

    14. Formaldehyde:
    Due to its bad name it is sometimes hidden under the name DMDM hydantoin or MDM hydantion. Trade name if Formalin which is also used in vaccines. Released by diazolidinyl urea. Causes dermatitis, adverse effects, is very toxic when swallowed or inhaled, skin irritant, very toxic, a suspected carcinogen and linked to cancer.

    15. Glycols (group):
    Causes delay contact allergy. Used as humectant (emulsifier/moisturizer). In most cases as a cheap glycerin substitute. Propylene glycol did cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage in laboratory animals. Diethylene glycol and carbitol are considered toxic. Ethylene glycol is a suspected bladder carcinogen. Glycols are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and cause adverse reactions.

    16. Imidazolidinyl Urea:
    Causes dermatitis. If heated to higher temperatures it produces formaldehyde.

    17. Methyl Chloroisothiazolinine:
    Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.

    18. Paba (p-aminobenzoic acid): Causes photo sensitivity and contact dermatitis. A common sunscreen ingredient.

    19. Parabens:
    Trademark for butyl, ethyl, germa, methyl, propyl paraben. Causes dermatitis. Used as a preservative in a variety of personal care products especially cream and lotion. Allergic reactions. Petroleum based.

    20. PEG (4-200):
    Abbreviation for polyethylene glycol, polyoxethylene, polyglycol, polyether glycol. Dangerous levels of the toxin dioxane has been found in this product.

    21. Polysorbate- (20-85):
    Causes contact sensitivity and irritation.

    22. Polyquaternium:
    Followed by any number they are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions. Induced contact dermatitis, causes fatal drug allergy (anaphylactic shock), may cause increased sensitivity to muscle relaxants.

    23. Propylene Glycol:

    Found in most shampoo and conditioner. Derived from petroleum products. Also used in anti-freeze, de-icer, latex, paint, and laundry detergent. Can cause irritation of nasal and respiratory passages and if ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Research also shows it is mutagenic, causes cardiac arrest. Japanese studies also show it damages cell DNA (genetic code). Strongly degreases and dries skin.

    24.Sodium Laureth Sulfate:
    Causes skin irritation and dermatitis. Used mainly in shampoo and conditioners. Has ether added and is toxic.

    25.Sodium Lauryl Sulfate:
    An ingredient used in 90% of commercially available shampoo and conditioners. Corrodes hair follicles and impedes hair growth. If found in car wash soap, engine degreasers, toothpaste, cream, lotion, and garage floor cleaners. Penetrates your eyes, brain, lover and remains there for long term. Degenerates cell membranes and can change the genetic information (mutagenic) in cells and damages the immune system. May cause blindness and lead to cataracts. Retards the healing process.

    26.Sodium Cyanide:
    Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic, and causes adverse reactions.

    27. Sodium Oleth Sulfate:
    May contain dangerous levels of ethylene oxide and/or dioxane, both potent toxins.

    28. Styrene Monomer:
    Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.

    29. Toluene:
    Used as a solvent in cosmetics, especially nail polish and dyes. Also in pharmaceuticals and gasoline as a blending agent.

    30. Triethanolamine (TEA):
    Causes severe facial dermatitis, irritation and sensitivity. Used as pH adjuster. Reacts with stearic acid to form oil in water emulsions (typically lotions). May contain nitrosamines, known carcinogens.

    Descriptive Words:

    • Carcinogen: known to be cancer causing.
    • Mutagenic: changes the genetic code which are the building blocks of cells.
    • Toxic: poisonous, either short term or long term.

    Maneka Gandhi

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Homeopathy

When Dr. Samuel Hahnemann developed homeopathy as a system of medicine, he stressed in 1813 that its principles should be the same as in humans. Boenninghausen continued to develop veterinary homeopathy. In the UK, George Macleod (1912 - 1995) was a very well-known veterinary homeopath. In 1982 the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS) was formed, as a focal point for homeopathic vets and those vets and students interested in veterinary homeopathy. The first veterinary courses commenced at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. In April 1986, the International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy (IAVH) was founded in Luxembourg, with Christopher Day as its first President. Among other work, this organisation has produced a Veterinary Materia Medica. That organisation created the post of Veterinary Dean in 1988, in order to oversee education and examinations in veterinary homeopathy and, in 1991, the first Veterinary Fellow of the Faculty (VetFFHom) was elected. In 2001, the first examination and qualification in basic (first-year) homeopathy was established [LFHom(Vet)]. There is now a thriving homeopathic vet community. The list of homeopathic medicines now available to the homeopathic vet runs into several thousand.

 

Homeopathy has been used in pets to farm animals, from horses to wild animals, from birds to fish. Organic farmers rely upon homeopathic medicine as an effective, safe medicine which does not give rise to drug residues in meat, milk or eggs.

 

Recurrent ophthalmia, head shaking, hip dysplasia, bone cysts, pasteurellosis (pasteurella), chlamydia, pneumonia, meningitis, mastitis, ringworm, epilepsy, pyoderma, eczema, dermatitis, eosinophilic myositis, eosinophilic granuloma, rodent ulcer, miliary eczema (miliary dermatitis), kidney problems, liver problems, cystitis, skin disease, arthritis, auto-immune disorders, bowel disease, epilepsy, heart problems, kidney disease mastitis, and behavioural conditions are frequent callers for the homeopathic vet.

 

Homeopathy stimulates the organism’s immune system so that the being under treatment can go on and heal itself.

 

This Homeopathic Remedy Guide will provide you with the most commonly used remedies. However this list should be used as a quick reference only! Please, read up on each remedy if possible as symptoms must match the remedy for Homeopathy to work.

 

Please do not attempt to treat chronic problems on your own! Seek professional advice of a Homeopath and a Veterinarian to prevent any harm to your animal. Even though there are no side-effects to using Homeopathic medicines, you can confuse the situation to the point that even a good Homeopathic doctor will not be able to help.

 

If, after giving a Homeopathic medicine four times, there is no reaction, stop administering and seek help from a Homeopath. You may have the wrong remedy or potency. However, if you have given the remedy and there is a reaction, either the symptoms get better or worse, seek help from a Homeopath for further instructions.

 

Commonly Used Remedies

 

ARNICA - Injuries, bruises, head traumas, first remedy to give in injuries of any kind including shock. First remedy to give wherever there is trauma or injury especially head injuries. Can prevent blood clots therefore may be very useful in preventing strokes etc.

 

ACONITE - Inflammation, sudden onset, anxiety and restlessness, dry mouth. Check ears for heat or coldness.

 

APIS MELLIFICA - Allergic reactions, hives, swelling/closing of throat due to allergy.

 

* ARSENICUM ALBUM - Colic with vomiting/diarrhoea, food poisoning, sepsis, anxiety, restlessness especially at night, thirst for small quantities but often.

 

* BRYONIA - Colic, all symptoms worse with motion and better by resting or staying perfectly still, thirst for large amounts of water, vomiting bile after eating, constipation.

 

* CALCAREA CARBONICA - For old injuries after giving Rhus-tox for some time. A muscle tonic. Aids the body in utilizing Calcium and making it more bio-available. Get more information on Calcarea Carbonica

 

* CALENDULA CREAM - For speeding up healing of wounds (do not apply if drainage is still necessary – Calendula will close a wound quickly and therefore trap infectious material that may need to drain. Wait to apply if infection is present)

 

* CHAMOMILLA - Teething, irritability, colic, wants to be carried, capricious.

 

* HEPAR SULPHUR - is a superb remedy for infections. It is used for respiratory inflammation, sinusitis and abscesses. Whether the infection is in the eyes, ears, the lungs or skin, Hepar-sulph when indicated can help heal like no other remedy. Great for really bad colds/flues that causes hoarseness and loss of voice, or a rattling wet cough. This remedy is also often used for cold-sores with much success.

 

* HYPERICUM (St. John’s Wort) - Prime importance in the treatment of lacerated wounds where nerve endings are damaged. An important nerve remedy in back/neck and especially coccyx (tail bone) injuries.

 

* MAG-PHOS (6 x Tissue Salt) - Cramping colicky pains, better bending double/curled foetal position and better warm applications flatulent colic, cramps. Combine: Nux-vom & Mag-phos when you can see constipation, swollen abdomen and gassy – lots of cramping.

 

* NUX-VOMICA - Colic, constipation with urging, sinus infections, cramping, looks bloated, digestive remedy patient is chilly, from over-eating or eating of ‘bad’ food.

 

* PULSATILLA - Colic, ear infections, yellow discharges.

 

* RHUS-TOX - Where pain & weakness in muscles/tendons/joints gets worse during rain or humidity and wears off when the patient moves & limbers up. Leading remedy for arthritis type symptoms.

 

* RUTA - Best used for bruises to bones, cartilages, tendons, the insertion of tendons & even the cartilages around the joints (over-exertion of fibres such as the flexor tendons).

 

* SEPIA - Chronic cystitis, female uterine problems, mood swings due to hormone imbalances. Also given to mothers that reject their young.

 

* SYMPHYTUM/COMFREY – for bone breaks.

 

* TEA TREE – wound cleaner, anti-septic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Tea tree has a long history of traditional use. Australian aboriginals used tea tree leaves for healing skin cuts, burns, and infections by crushing the leaves and applying them to the affected area.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,   www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

MY TALE OF WOE – An open letter to the public

By Dr. Abi O’Connor BVM&S, MRCVS

I recently discovered a letter my grandfather had written to himself, a year before his death.  The letter was titled, “My Tale of Woe” and described his feelings of helplessness in the ever-changing world.  I found it strange to read my grandfather’s letter and discover how, at the end of his life, this great patriarch of our family who had such a firm command of his own life felt so feeble and out-of-control.

My grandfather ended his letter to himself by writing, “I feel terrible and there isn’t anything I can do about it.  End of my tale of woe.”  Reading  this affected me deeply.

I decided to write my own brief tale of woe.  Rather than waiting until my mid-80’s to express my concerns, I chose to write openly to the public in hope that change may come.  And thus begins “My Tale of Woe.”

 

I have always had a strong sense of self.  I’ve always known what I am passionate about and have a strong sense of morals that seem to have largely kept me out of trouble over the past few decades.   As my parents instructed me as a child, I have tried to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” believing in the mantras of “what goes around comes around,” karma, juju, what have you…

I have tried to be a good person.  And, a few disgruntled ex-boyfriends aside, I think I have done a pretty good job.  I wake up early, go to bed late, work hard and love deeply.  I strive to learn and teach, to improve myself and the lives of others.

It is because of this that I am affected so deeply by the cruelty and injustice I witness on a daily basis here.  By the men who beat dogs within an inch of their lives leaving their bodies ruined and bones destroyed.  By the rapists and perverts who violate the helpless.  By the bystanders who watch these injustices occur and do nothing…

I hope we can live in a world where employers don’t beat their staff, where people and animals don’t live in fear, where hypocrisy and ignorance are relics of the past.  I hope to live in a world where people love animals and each other selflessly, not selfishly, putting their loved one’s interests above their own in times of need.  In this dark world, I hope the fearless can keep their moral compasses true and stand up to the tyrants and bullies that lie around the corner.

Until then, I ask you, the audience, to help me change the world.  To give of yourselves freely in service to others.  To resort to diplomacy instead of tyranny.  To bring joy to the lives of others instead of fear.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “you cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

End of my tale of woe.

Can you help?  Click here to make a donation to the Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre and be part of the solution.

POTATOES DELIGHT

Think of any form, any colour, and any combination of colours, sex, eating habits or whatever. Nature has already invented it.  And every year scientists discover more and more life forms. In Madagascar alone 615 have been discovered, one of them, the stunningFurcifer timoni chameleon, a shocking green with purple spots who looks as if he has just been painted for a heavy metal rock show. Every year scientists list the ten weirdest creatures found. I wish I could show you their pictures but I have to be content with writing about those found in the last five years. I am not choosing the medical malformations like the one eyed shark or the two headed one. These are aberrations and do not survive. Let’s look at the amazing wonders that exist normally across the world.

 

The deep-sea acorn worm with huge lips, Yoda purpurata, has been discovered 2.5 kilometres beneath the Atlantic Ocean. The bright purple worm has large lips on the side of its head and uses them to snag its prey. Scientists have names it after the Star Wars character Yoda. No one knows what it does as yet but scientists say this may be an ancestor of ours.

 

An amazing fungus species Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani has been discovered that grows like a dark stalk out of a "zombie" ant's head in a Brazilian rain forest. The fungus is made of four distinct species—all of which can "mind control" ants. The fungus species infects an ant, takes over its brain, alters its behaviour and then kills the insect once the fungus moves to an ideal location for growing and spreading its spores. The fungus's spores enter the body of the ant and makes it climb up the stem of a plant and use its mandibles to secure itself to the plant. Infected ants bite the leaf veins with abnormal force, leaving dumbbell-shaped marks. The fungus then kills the ant, and continues to grow eating the insect. When it is ready to reproduce, its fruiting body grows from the ant's head and ruptures, releasing the spores which infect the ants nearby. Even more amazingly,ants have evolved the ability to sense that a member of the colony is infected; healthy ants will carry the dying one far away from the colony in order to avoid fungal spore exposure.

 

A new discovery has been made in the Philippines of a sea slug that looks like a pancake. It’s almost flat with black branches running across a white surface and yolk like yellow spots bursting through. The sea slug is a hermaphrodite and has a set of reproductive organs for both sexes but cannot fertilize itself. To mate, two sea slugs come together side by side and (usually both) pass sperm sacs through a tube right behind the head. The eggs hatch into free-swimming larvae which eventually settle onto the ocean bottom as adults. A pair of tentacles called rhinophores on the head have scent receptors that allow it to smell its food. Since the rhinophores stick out and can be a target for hungry fish, the slug hase the ability to withdraw them and hide them in a pocket in its skin if it senses danger.

 

An expedition by the California Academy of Sciences to the Philippines brought back evidence of more than 300 new species, some of which are bizarre. For example, the deep-sea swell shark that can suck in water to make itself larger when confronted by a predator.

 

The mountain jungles of Vietnam are home to a new breed of "vampire"—a "flying" tree frog dubbed Rhacophorus vampyrus. Found in 2008, the two-inch-long frog uses webbed fingers and toes to glide from tree to tree.  Vampire tree frog tadpoles have a pair of hard black hooks like fangs sticking out from the undersides of their mouths. These frogs never come down on the ground - Adults deposit their eggs in water pools in tree trunks. The parents feed their baby tadpoles by laying unfertilized eggs as meals. The fangs help in slicing these open.

 

A “devil worm" called Halicephalobus mephisto, for Mephistopheles the demon of Faustian legend, has been found 3.5 kms under the Earth—the deepest-living animal yet found. These creatures are millions of times bigger than the bacteria they feed on and live in rocks, having evolved to survive the crushing pressure and high heat of the depths.

 

 Off the Florida Keys, hundreds of stinging tentacles dangle from a "pink meanie"—a new species of Drymonema larsoni jellyfish discovered this year, which is large ( 3 feet across and 50 pounds) and pink and has a taste for other jellyfishes. Pink meanies prey on other jellyfish, entangling them in tentacles that can be up to 70 feet long. The meanies then reel their victims in and consume them. Adult Drymonema do the majority of their digestion using specialized "oral arms" that dangle alongside their tentacles. The oral arms exude digestive juices which break down the prey. The creatures have been documented eating 34 jellyfish at a time.

 

An underwater oddity, the coral reef-dwelling harlequin shrimp is a colourful and dangerous predator. Male and female shrimps pair for life. Although they are small (2-5 cm in length) they eat animals bigger than them. A mated pair of harlequin shrimp will co-operate when it comes to preying on their favourite food, starfish. When a starfish is found the couple will work together to prize its arms from the rock it's anchored to, and turns it over. They will then begin to feast, starting with its delicate feet and working inwards. Sometimes they will take it into a dark nook or cranny and continue to feed on it for days, or keep it alive deliberately in order to feed on it later.

 

The Potato Bug has nothing to do with potatoes. It feeds on dead material, burrowing underground to get to decaying roots. It produces a unique song, used to communicate during mating, and is made by the insect beating its abdomen against the ground, and gives off a foul-smelling scent.

 

The Dunaliella algae discovered in 2010 in a cave in Chile's Atacama Desert thrive on very little water. These microbes grow on top of spiderwebs to capitalize on dew that condenses on the webs in the mornings.

 

The Deinococcus radiodurans bacterium can survive a 15,000 gray dose of radiation, where 10 grays would kill a human and it takes over 1,000 grays to kill a cockroach.

 

One newfound creature is a loriciferan of the genus Spinoloricus. The creature can survive without oxygen.

 

How many odd creatures have been discovered ! Mudskipper which are fish that live most of their life on land ; Slender Lanternfish that have light organs dotted along the undersides of their bodies; Deep-sea stargazer fish that look like bulldogs and  bury themselves in the seafloor to ambush passing prey after locating them with eyes set on top of the head, and use electricity to stun their prey; Humpback Anglerfish which are the size of a tennis ball, have an enormous head dominated by a cavernous mouth full of long slender teeth that can fold backwards when prey is being swallowed; The Fangtooth fish whose teeth are so long that when the jaw is shut, the lower pair must slide into special sheathes on either side of the fish’s brain to avoid impaling it; The Black Swallower which has the ability to extend its stomach 3 times its size so that it can swallow fish that are bigger than itself, and when it encounters dark waters, creates its own light.

 

More than 99 percent of all species that have lived on Earth are now extinct.And scientists estimate that roughly 90 percent of the species left on Earth have yet to be discovered. How sad that most of these will also be extinct long before we discover them thanks to our way of living.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Gau Mutra- A Remedy

Last week I went to inaugurate a little gaushala in a village outside Delhi. After the ceremony the gaushala committee head handed me a bottle of distilled cow urine. I asked him what I was supposed to do with it. Drink it, he said, it cleans the body.

I may be an animal lover but I draw the line at drinking cow urine. I took it and decided to experiment on a dog which had fleas and ticks. We rubbed the urine on and, after some time in the sun, bathed her with soap. The fleas and ticks disappeared and there was no smell at all of urine.

I am now sending it to my animal hospital to try it on other animals with parasites.

According to those who drink it, cow urine has many benefits: it improves digestion and intelligence, is useful in treating abdominal colic pain and bloating. It is useful in conditions like intestinal worms and skin diseases, obesity, anaemia. It acts as a natural detoxifier.

Apparently it is to be boiled and distilled first. There are many companies that sell distilled cow urine. But if you can get fresh urine, you can prepare the distillate like this:

Put it in a pressure cooker. At the opening on top where the whistle normally is, attach a heat resistant pipe. The other end of the pipe should open into a clean vessel kept dipped in water. Heat the urine in the pressure cooker and collect the distillate in the vessel. Do not use the pressure cooker for anything else. The distilled cow urine can be used for 1 – 2 months, if preserved in an air tight container.

Start with drinking 3-4 drops of cow urine once or twice a day. After a week, increase it to one spoon twice a day.

However there are lots of dos and don’ts: Check whether the cow is well first. Do not store raw cow urine for more than an hour. Take the cow urine for the prescribed time period only.  For example, if used for indigestion, it should be take only till proper digestion is restored. Do not have it if you are very thin, emaciated, tired, suffer from fatigue, male infertility and insomnia. It is not to be given to children. Remember: cow urine therapy is not nourishing. It is detoxifying and cleansing in nature.

Many Ayurvedic medicines use cow urine as an ingredient: Shiva Gutika, Panchagavya Ghrita, Maha Panchagavya Ghrita, Gomutra Haritaki,Mandoora Vatakam

Some Ayurvedic medicines recommend cow urine to be drunk along with their medicines: Punarnavadi kashayam, Mahayograj Guggul - in the treatment of anaemia. Vyoshadi Guggulu,Khadiradi Kashayam–  worm infestation, kankayan Vati- to treat abdominal lump due to kapha origin.

It is used along with Pathyadi Lepachurna, an herbal powder, to prepare a paste applied externally to relieve skin diseases such as dermatitis.

It is used in the process of making of Loha Bhasma

Our old texts like Atharva Veda, Charaka Samhita, Rajni Ghuntu, Vridhabhagabhatt, Amritasagar, Bhavaprakash, Sushruta Samhita extol the benefits of cow urine. The Cow Urine Treatment and Research Centre, Indore has conducted research and claim that that it is capable of curing diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, heart disease, blockage in arteries, fits, cancer,  piles, prostrate, arthritis, migraine, thyroid, ulcers, acidity, constipation, gynaecological problems, ear and nose problems, varicose veins and dysmenorrhoea, ringworm, skin problems, acne. The major claim is for curing Aids – and it would be such fun if this turned out to be true. Villagers use cow urine as a disinfectant and  apply it on wounds.
The analysis of cow urine shows it contains nitrogen, sulphur, ammonia, copper, phosphate, sodium, potassium, manganese, carbolic acid, iron, uric acid, urea, silicon, chlorine, magnesium, calcium salts, Vitamin A, B, C, D, E, minerals, lactose, enzymes, creatinine, Aurum hydroxide.

 

I may not drink it , but I certainly think it should be used as both  pesticide and bio fertilizer. Hundreds of case studies have been done. In one , 11 farmers of Kali Talavadi in Maharashtra  have made a club that uses cow urine as bio fertilizer on cotton, groundnut, maize, castor, chillies. They say that spraying 100-200 litres per acre increases the production of crops and of course reduces the cost of production because the urine is collected from the village cows. The farmers reported that chilli production increased by 10%.and maize by 15%

Farmers from this club bring all the animals under one shed and collect the urine at night. In two years they have collected 1.7 lakh litres of cow urine and sold 1.68 litres at Rs.2.50 / litre earning Rs.4.2 lakhs. At present 107 families are using cow urine as a bio fertilizer in the area and they say that if cow urine is used on the fields for three years , you will never need chemical fertilizers and pesticides again.

I firmly believe that the cow and the buffalo are the answer to all our agricultural issues. If the government that forced our farmers into chemical dependence would simply see the cow as our saviour out of this trap and stop letting her be killed for leather and meat export , we would get cheaper food, less cancer and a far healthier economy.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contactgandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Fish lovers how is your fish?

What do you eat when you eat fish? Chemicals, human faeces and plastic.

 

Lets discuss the plastic bit.

 

According to a recent study in Marine Pollution Bulletin done by scientists from Plymouth University, one third of fish off the coast of England have been found full of plastic bits. This is not just the fish of the North Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. “We have previously shown that on shorelines worldwide, on the sea bed and in the water column around the UK, these tiny fragments of plastic are widespread,” scientist Richard Thompson says in Planet Earth Online. The study shows how these plastic fragments are making their way into organisms.

 

504 fish include whiting, horse mackerel, John Dory and red gurnard were collected about 10 kilometres off the coast of Plymouth. 184 of the fish had between one to fifteen pieces of plastic in their gastrointestinal tracts. 351 pieces of plastic were removed from the fish, most of it from plastic bottles, single use bags. styrofoam, plastic gloves, lids, foam packaging, plastic rope, plastic fishing line, plastic bleach bottle, plastic egg cartons, lighters, plastic lids, straws, exfoliators, face scrubs, cosmetic and sanitary items. This is apart from the cigarette butts. Some dead ones had metal caps and glass pieces in them. All these fish would have ended up on a fisheater’s dining table.

 

In 2011, U.K. supermarkets handed out a total of 8 billion “thin-gauge” bags, a 5.4 % increase from the 7.6 billion handed out in 2010. Every U.K. shopper now uses about eleven plastic bags a month and most of them end up inside fish. Plastic microbeads used by cosmetic companies are easily eaten by fish and get passed up and down the food chain.

 

31 million tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2010 in the USA – 92% was thrown into the ocean. In 2011 scientists found plastic in 10% of the lantern fish collected from the Pacific Ocean. These fish are commonly eaten by larger fish which are eaten by humans. A study by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego estimated that fish in the middle depths of the northern Pacific Ocean are ingesting as much as 24,000 tons of plastic each year. The plastic in the fish may sometimes be large but is mostly broken down into small fragments that go unseen by the human eater. “10% is on the low side. We can't tell how many fish ate plastic and died and how many fish ate plastic and regurgitated it or passed it out of their intestines," said Rebecca Asch, one of the study's authors. A study by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation found plastic in the stomachs of 35% of fish in the same general area of the Pacific.

 

Cheap, durable and lightweight, plastic is used in countless industries. But little of it is recycled and much ends up in the environment, the rivers and seas, where it fragments without degrading and ends up doing a great deal of harm. Some of it, eaten by fish, goes right back into your body.

 

In India, Delhi alone produces 250,000 plastic waste annually - plastic bags, sheets, films – which is all thrown into the water. Plastic never degrades in a marine environment. It chokes wetlands and wildlife.

 

So much is the plastic that there is a Great Pacific Garbage Patch, made mainly of plastic, stretching for hundreds of kilometres across the North Pacific Ocean, an island bigger than U.P. and Madhya Pradesh combined, forming a nebulous, floating junk yard on the high seas. An alien looking out of an UFO could mistake it for a country.

 

Unlike most other trash, plastic cannot biodegrade as no microbes that break down other substances recognize plastic as food. So it stays forever. Eventually sunlight breaks down the bonds between the polymers reducing it to smaller and smaller pieces, but that makes matters worse because then it is eaten by tiny marine organisms, entering the food chain.

Sea turtles are especially susceptible. In addition to being entangled by fishing nets, they often swallow plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish, their main prey. Turtles that are caught and eaten, often have a great deal of plastic in their stomachs which has clogged their intestines starving them to death. Plastic resin pellets, which are tiny, industrial-use granules shipped in bulk around the world, are often washed into the sea and are eaten by sea birds who regurgitate them and feed their children. Decaying albatross chicks are frequently found with stomachs full of plastic debris. These small plastic particles have been found in the stomachs of 63 of the world's approximately 250 species of seabirds.

 

The plastic in the fish is toxic to the fish eater in many ways. It will have poisoned the fish because of its inherent toxicity as it contains colourants and chemicals like bisphenol-A, organic pollutants like PCBsand other toxins. The fish eater swallows all of these cancer causing and organ blocking elements.

 

So the plastics floating down your sewers, flushed down your toilets, thrown out as medical waste, tampons, diapers, condoms, thrown out of boats that empty their trash directly into the ocean (In 1975, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that 14 billion pounds of garbage was being dumped into the ocean every year. That's more than 1.5 million pounds per hour. A 1985 report estimated that merchant ships dump 450,000 plastic containers each day into international waters. The oceans received tons of plastic products dumped daily by commercial fishermen, military vessels, merchant ships, passenger liners, pleasure boats, offshore oil and gas drilling operations, the plastics industry and sewage treatment plants). These are eaten by small fish who are eaten by larger fish who are eaten by you.

 

Humans love freebies. And you get lots of plastic free when you eat fish. Small fish mistake plastic particles for plankton, their normal food. There are many estimates about the ratio of plastic particles to plankton. They range from 6:1 to a catastrophic 46:1. The point is, there is MUCH more plastic than plankton. Soon the fish body is eating more plastic than food.
So the fish is caught and wrapped in plastic and sold to you. Plastic inside, plastic outside. Why not just cut out the “middle man” and eat your plastic bag for lunch?

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contactgandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

 

 

Animal Welfare-real way

How to Make a Difference in Animal Welfare.

 

More and more people are coming forward to join the animal welfare movement. But they have no idea of what to do. Even after becoming members of organizations, they are left mainly on their own, or asked to help the local shelter. But, the issues of animal welfare increase by the day and we really need lots of people to multitask, whether they are in organizations or not. Every colony, every building, every institution needs a group to protect the local animals and to teach the laws to local policemen and the local authorities.

 

First I would suggest that you join an existing group. But if there isn’t one, make your own. If there are just two of you in a building, institutionalize yourselves by giving a grand name to your group XYZ Building Animal Protection Group. The moment it is made, you will find more people joining it.

 

Then learn the laws. You will find them on my site www.peopleforanimalsindia.organd I would also like you to read all my articles on it as they will give you an understanding of the animal issues. You can also look at the site of the Animal Welfare Board of India to learn the laws www.awbi.org.

The next thing is to apply for the Colony Caretaker card from the AWBI site. This will empower you to look after animals in your area.

Now let’s get on to the really helpful stuff you need to do. These are the things that really make a difference.

 

Knowledge is half the battle won. Schedule a speaker from a shelter to talk to your clubs, school, college, neighbourhood group, religious gathering. If you work in a company, let the speaker come to your company employees. Basically a gathering of 20-30 people is a good place to start. People don’t know much and until they get to know why an animal is important and how to deal with the local animals, you will never get to win your local battles.

 

Place donation boxex of an animal group wherever you do business (or pleasure), such as your office, grocery store, dry cleaners, restaurant, gym. Even if you do not make much money, the cause is highlighted and becomes important.

 

Volunteer to feed, bathe and walk dogs, play with cats, design an exhibit, spearhead a special event, or otherwise volunteer at your local shelter. If you are a computer person, make flyers for the shelter and distribute them – even if it is only to 100 people at a gathering about their services – do this in your apartment complex, office or educational institution. Offer to make and run their Facebook and other social networking sites and do it everyday.

Think of and coordinate small fundraising projects, like bake sales, tables at melas, T Shirt sales. Give yourself a target of how much you will earn per month.

 

Get the dogs in your colony sterilized. This includes the owned dogs as well. Feed all the animals in your area and explain to disgruntled neighbours that if you do not feed them, they will get aggressive and that the law mandates that you feed them. Put collars on them. Do not throw food around, especially not meat.

If your company, school, college, club donates to charities, add animal welfare organizations to their list.

 

Find out if your local shelter could use any of the services or products your company produces and then provide them. You will be surprised at the things a shelter needs. Even paper and pens would help a lot, good working second-hand computers , old fans, cupboards, tables and chairs, kitchen equipment, light bulbs… there are hundreds of items.

 

One of the mistakes made by the animal welfare lobby is that we do not tap into our representatives. You need to know who your corporator is, your MLA, your MP and your local state minister. You need to meet them and ask them for help. You need to make friends with the local police station head and the DCP and possibly the commissioner. You need to know at least two local media reporters. Without this backup, you will be paralysed in an emergency. Animal welfare is not only about looking after local cats and dogs. It is about: slaughterhouse reform and stopping animal smuggling, catching poachers and stopping shops that sell birds and illegal animals, stopping dissection in educational areas which do not need to do it, stopping the display of cruelty in films and TV, getting SPCAs set up and the local government vet to come to work, stopping animal sacrifice in temples, removing pesticides, starting sterilization of dogs in your area. For all these things, one MP and MLA can be of tremendous help. But if you do not ask them they will never consider it on their own. You need to make your municipality animal sensitive, and if you do not meet your municipal commissioner regularly you will never do so. One lone poor woman in Nagpur who supports herself as a teacher has managed to get the municipality to put land and money for a shelter, get an ambulance, start the forest department working, stopped the illegal bird markets. Every MP, MLA and corporator knows her. The media writes about her all the time. When I went to Nagpur she got the local education officer to get 600 teachers to come and listen. If she can do it, anyone can. A single woman of absolutely no power in Uttarakhand has done more than that and, having engaged the best lawyers in Uttarakhand has stopped animal sacrifice in the entire state, got the dog breeders to stop, has had SPCAs made and now is building her own shelter. If she can do it, you can.

 

Start with these simple tips. Each one who is sensitive to animals remember this: compassion without action is of no use. One action has very far reaching consequences. So start any of these today.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Myths or Beliefs

Last time I tried to tell you the truth of some commonly held beliefs. Here are some more.

 

* Cats and dogs should drink milk -

No one should drink milk except the milk-giver’s child. Cat and dogs may drink it but it is not good for them as nearly all of them are lactose intolerant. Cats will get gas, diarrhoea and throw up. In fact, after the first few times the cat gets sick she usually avoids milk – unless she is starving and you are not giving her any options. Yoghurt has less lactose and is a probiotic, but no more than a spoonful can be given.

Most dogs lack the enzyme beta lactamase, which allows the digestive system to break down the kind of sugar contained in milk. Dogs that lack this enzyme end up with a lot of undigested sugar in their intestinal tract, which creates a breeding environment for bacteria. When a lot of bacteria grow in the intestinal tract it can irritate the stomach and intestine and cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

* Earthworms, when cut will regenerate the other half -

Cut a cow in half. Two cows or one very dead one?  Do it with a fly or cockroach. Same thing. Earthworms are as biologically complex as any insect. They too, have heads, brains, hearts and tails and systems for eating and metabolizing food.  So to think that sawing them in half will produce two is insane.

The myth probably comes from the fact that the parts keep moving for a bit after they are cut in half, but that is a pain reaction as the final nerve signals shoot through. You can see the same in decapitated chickens and humans.

Earthworms, like most beings, have minor regenerative abilities. if a teeny part is cut off they might be able to re-grow a stunted replacement or heal over the cut part. But that’s all.

 

* Shells are the abandoned houses of sea creatures-

Seashells are very much a part of the body; the external skeletons of a class of marine animals called Molluscs. While we have our skeletons on the inside of our bodies, molluscs have their skeletons on the outside of theirs. This way they help protect the creatures from predators, strong currents and storms, help camouflage the animal, and do many other things. Seashells are primarily made of calcium; a hard mineral, just like our own bones.
When a mollusc dies, its shell is left behind, just as land animals leave their skeletons behind.  After the animal that created the seashell dies, the shell often washes up onto the shore, or remains in the tide pool where the creature lived.  Sometimes other creatures such as small hermit crabs then take the empty shell and use it as their home.

Most of the shells you find in the market, however , have not been taken after the animal has died naturally. The mollusc has been killed and then the shell is washed and sold.

 

* Dogs with wet noses are fine -

Many people believe that if a dog's nose is dry, then the pet is sick, and that the main sign of a healthy dog is a wet nose. Not true. A wet nose reflects humidity. When it's humid outside, your dog's nose gets wet. If the weather is overly dry, so will be your dog's nose. This leads to the misconception that you can tell your dog’s health by touching its nose. This is inaccurate, because nose temperature changes based on the environment.

A feverish, lethargic dog might have a hot, dry, nose, but so might a perfectly healthy dog. A sick dog will usually have other symptoms. For example, a dog with a respiratory illness might have a very wet nose, but it might be runnier than usual, with thick or crusty discharge.

The moisture on dogs’ noses helps keep the dog cool, and to help the dog smell. Although dogs only sweat through the pads of their feet, they can also shed heat through evaporation from their mouth and from their nose. The thin, clear moisture produced by a dog’s nose is mucus not sweat. The mucus provides a good surface for dissolving chemicals from the air and absorbing them into the skin, where the cells that detect smell are located. A dog that is actively sniffing and alert will have a wetter nose than one who is relaxed or asleep. Additionally, dogs will lick their nose to sample the chemicals that are stuck there and take them to another olfactory sense organ on the roof of their mouth.
Many breeds sneeze when happy or excited or whine, and this is perfectly normal. As for humans, sneezing is a good way to get irritants out of the nose. Dogs get upper respiratory infections, coughs, sinus infections, runny noses, and all the things we associate with “colds” in people. Most respiratory infections in dogs are more severe. Distemper is a serious illness in dogs that can cause a runny nose and neurological symptoms. Any dog with a discharge from the nose which is not thin and clear or with a persistent cough or sneeze, should take a trip to the vet. Nasal discharge should be clear, never yellowish, thick, bubbly, or foul smelling.

 

* Snakes hunt down those that kill their mates -

The King Cobra is the reason for the legend. The female builds a huge two chamber nest to deposit her eggs in. She lives in one part and puts the eggs in the other. She stays in the area and actively defends her nest. Sometimes the male will stay in the area also. They don't mate for life, but if you disturb one and the other is in the area you are probably going to be disturbing the mate as well. The king cobra's hiss is low pitched, almost a growl and the theory is that if the other snake is in the area it will feel the hiss and respond. The theory is unproved.

 

* Camels Store Water in Their Humps -

A camel can survive some days without water, but not because they are carrying large reserves inside their humps. They avoid dehydration because they have oval-shaped red blood cells (we have circular ones). The camel's kidneys and intestines are so efficient at retaining water that a camel's urine comes out thick as syrup and their faeces is so dry, it can fuel fires. The hump is a big mound of fat somewhat like a pot-belly.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Myths-Indian Fairytales

Now that one mythology has been put to rest – of the world ending on December 21st- let me attempt to disabuse you of some beliefs that have survived time.

 

* Bats Fly into Your Hair -

Bats flying around and tangling with human hair are a staple of horror movies. When I was young my grandmother used to tell me that we should use mosquito nets when we slept in the garden as bats would fly into our ears. This belief runs across the world. But it has no truth in it at all. While bats primarily use a form of sonar to navigate through dark areas and avoid obstacles, their eyes, while small, are also completely functional, not to mention the fact that they have excellent hearing and sense of smell. Their agility and echolocation are precise enough to detect and dodge even a single hairor pluck a single tasty mosquito out of the sky. Why would a bat want to dive bomb your hair and tangle itself up? What does it have to gain – a nest, lice, coconut oil?

Why do bats sometimes fly up close to humans? Because humans attract insects. Scents and shampoos and light clothes attract even more. And bats love to eat mosquitoes. So if bats will get near your head, it's just that with that amazing sonar we talked about, a bat can swipe a single flying insect mere inches from your face and never even touch you. It's almost as if they're swooping down from the night sky to protect us. There is a reason why Batman, as guardian angel of the dark, exists


* Mother Birds Abandon Their Chicks if You Touch Them -
If you have ever seen a baby bird under a tree, you will have been told not to touch it as its mother will not take it back. It will be abandoned by its family and die of hunger and cold or be eaten by dogs and cats. As soon as the mother smells a human on it, it’s dead to the family.

The warning is a good one and has probably saved many more chicks than killed them. Most of the time a bird has not been abandoned. It is usually learning how to fly and its mother is away for the moment. It’s a different matter if the bird is completely featherless. Then look for the nest and put the bird back if you can. However the smell part is purely mythical.
Birds hardly use their noses
; they rely on their eyes and ears. So whether the bird has been touched by humans or not isn’t terribly apparent to them. Second, birds don't really care if humans touch their chicks or not. It doesn't stop mother birds from feeding or caring for their chicks. They're still bonded to them through good and bad, just like your parents are with you. It was probably started because it was the best way to stop people from touching chicks .

 

* Rabbits Love Carrots and Mice Love Cheese -

Search for a cartoon rabbit – it will be eating a carrot. Carrots are supposed to be to rabbits what bananas are to monkeys. The only thing more certain than a rabbit's carrot addiction is this: Mice love cheese. If a mousetrap doesn't have a big triangular wedge of cheese in it, it doesn’t work.

Thousands of rabbits have died from this misconception. Every single bit of rabbit information says: If you try to feed a rabbit nothing but carrots, it will die. It's like giving a human nothing but sugar. If your rabbit happens to like carrots, you still have to ration it. Rabbits eat mostly hay and green leafy vegetables. If you give a rabbit a carrot with the green top still on it, it will disregard the carrot part and eat just the top.

As for mice and cheese- this is another cartoon induced myth. Mice have sensitive nosesand will decline something as strong-smelling and highly flavoured as cheese. They're actually drawn to foods with relatively high sugar content, such as grains and fruit. Better to use roti in a trap, as most of our villagers know.

How did this myth start? Probably through the cartoon character Bugs Bunny. Like Popeye and his spinach, a way to make carrots more fun for children to eat. One reason may be that cheese in European cupboards hundreds of years ago was always found gnawed into by rats. But that was so because all the other food was locked up: meat was hung and salted and grain stored in jars. It was cheese or starvation.

 

* You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks-

It takes two days for a senior dog to learn anything – including his new name. As long as you are patient and loving with the dog,  he learns whatever you want him to in a week of just 15 minutes a day. I recently rescued a 9 year Labrador with a cataract and a severe kennel cough. He had been locked, beaten, starved for 9 years. In one week he knows his new name, sits, stops, eats gently (he used to jump and snarl when fed) lies at my feet while I work and knows the names of everyone in the household. In fact, with approximately 15 minutes of training every day for two weeks, even the most stubborn dog can usually learn how to sit, stay, fetch, and roll over or whatever your heart desires, regardless of age. It’s people – young or old, who have a problem learning anything. 

 

* Snakes drink milk -

The snake is a reptile and lacks mammary glands. It does not produce milk for its offspring. Therefore, snakes do not drink milk naturally. They are water drinkers. Captive snakes used by charmers are kept thirsty for days especially before Nag Panchami. Because of their thirst, they are forced to consume milk to soothe their parched throats as a matter of survival. However, milk is not good for their health, and the kidney and liver get badly affected. If milk is forced down their throat they get pneumonia. Most of them die. About 50,000 snakes die each year during the Nagpanchami festival, when people offer milk, congealed butter and sweetened rice to starving snakes.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

 

Witch Craft and Myths

Two months ago I was at my shelter when a man came and asked me if he could adopt a cat. Adoptions make me very happy so I took him to the cat division and was showing him the different cats we had when the head of the division came, took me aside and told me that this same man had adopted two cats before and had given a false name and address (we check up on our adoptions to see if the animals are being kept properly) and had also told our sweeper that he would pay him money if he threw cats over the wall to him. On “ investigation” (I won’t confess what I did !) the man said that he got the cats pregnant and then aborted the foetuses and ate the placenta as he had been told it would bring him good luck. He was promptly arrested by the police under Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code.

More than any other animal, the cat features in the mythology of every country and religion. It goes from being goddess to a witch’s familiar. With its huge jewel-like eyes, the cat seems the most mysterious being. Being able to see in the dark, it roams at night, (time that is known as the "witching hour"), and no matter how much affection it shows it remains its own master. The Norse Goddess of love and fertility, Freya, travelled in a chariot pulled by two black cats. In Hinduism, cats are a symbol of fertility. The Egyptians were the first to keep and use cats to hunt fish and birds as well as to destroy rodents. Cats were considered so valuable that Egypt imposed the death penalty for killing cats. Cats were believed to be a manifestation of Bast the goddess of protection, fertility, the moon. clip_image001clip_image001[1]clip_image001[2]In Celtic mythology cats were guardians of the gates to the “Otherworld” and the spiritual link between humans and the universe.

In Japan, the Menki Neko or “Beckoning Cat” is revered for bring good fortune. According to Buddhism, the body of the cat is the temporary resting place of the soul of very spiritual people.

 

How many predictions revolve round a cat’s behaviour? Here are some:


A cat sleeping with its paws tucked under its body foretells of rain.

A cat sneezing once indicates rain; a cat sneezing three times indicates that the humans of the household will catch a cold.

A cat washing its face on the front doorstep foretells a visit from a member of the clergy. (American)

Finding a white hair on a black cat foretells good luck.

A cat placed into the empty cradle of a newlywed couple will lead to conception- providing that the cat doesn’t jump right back out. (Amish tradition)

Owning a black cat is very lucky, but seeing another’s black cat is unlucky. (Yorkshire)

Seeing a black cat by moonlight foretells of an impending epidemic for the entire locality. (Ireland)

Rubbing the tail of a cat over one’s eyes cures a sty. (American)

If a cat washes its face in front of a gathering of people, the first person that it looks at afterwards will be the first to marry. (American)

If you wilfully kill a cat, you will forfeit your soul to the devil. (British)


Carrying a cat over a stream is bad luck. (France)

 

If you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb before pressing it into the middle of your opposite palm while making a wish.

 

When a cat sits with her tail toward the fire or licks herself above the ears, bad weather is on the way. If a cat licks its tail, rain is forecast.

 

When a cat washes its foot and then passes the foot over the left ear, a stranger is coming.

 

If you kick a cat, you will have bad luck.

 

A cat at a wedding will bring good luck.

 

If a cat jumps on a dead man’s coffin, he will not get into paradise. (Australia)

 

Viewing a male and female cat fighting is very inauspicious. It is a sure omen of quarrel in the house and of imminent infamy to the viewer.


If a cat washes its face and paws in the parlour, company's coming. (German)

 

If a cat continually looks out a window, rain is on the way.

 

Dream of a tortoise shell cat and you will be lucky in love.

 

Dream of a ginger cat and you will be lucky in money and business.

 

Dream of a black and white cat and you'll have luck with children.

 

Dream of a tabby cat (striped or dotted) and you will have luck with your home.

 

Dream of a multi-coloured cat and you will have luck making friends.

 

Dreaming of being badly scratched by a cat foretells sickness and trouble. (Italian)

 

Black cats could find buried treasure: find an intersection where 5 roads connect, then turn the cat loose and follow him. (France)

 

Tortoiseshell cats can pass on the gift of seeing the future to a child in the household.

 

If you kick a cat, you will develop rheumatism in that leg.

 

If you are a farmer and kill a cat, you can expect your cattle to die mysteriously.

 

If you drown a cat, you will fall victim to a drowning.

 

It is bad luck to see a white cat at night.

 

If a cat sits on a grave, the buried person's soul was in the devil's power. (Christian)

 

If two cats are seen fighting near a dying person, or on the grave shortly after a funeral, the creatures are the Devil and an Angel fighting for possession of the soul.

 

If a black cat lies on the bed of a sick man, he will die. However, a cat will not remain in the house where someone is about to die - if the family cat refused to stay indoors, this is a bad omen. (Italy)

 

If a funeral procession encounters a black cat, another member of the family will soon die.

 

When moving to a new home, put the cat in through the window, not the door, so that it will not leave.

 

In India, the Vastu books say:

Grey cats are lucky.

 

If a black cat enters the house , it’s a lucky sign.

 

While setting out on a journey if a cat is seen on the left side it is a good omen.

 

If a cat gives birth to kittens it means wealth for the head of the house . Evil forces do not reside in such a house.

 

If a cat follows a person coming out of a house, it brings wealth to the family.

 

The death of a cat in the house is a bad omen.

 

If a cat washes only one of her ears three times it means a guest is expected.

 

If a cat calls repeatedly when someone is going out of the house it indicates a loss for that person to happen shortly.

 

To see three black cats together is extremely lucky.

 

A cat climbing or scratching furniture means rain.

 

A cat that runs away from home means disaster.

 

If a cat falls on a sleeping person, it is an inauspicious sign.


If a cat sniffs at any person's feet, it is ominous.


If a cat licks the forehead of a woman, her husband may die.


If a cat licks the foot of a woman, her father-in-law may die.

 

If a person is entering a village or city or a house and sees a cat coming out of it on his right, it is inauspicious.


If a person embarking upon a journey sees a cat meowing it is auspicious.


If a cat delivers her child inside any house, it means prosperity within three months.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Animal World

As I write this article I have five dogs sleeping around my chair. They will wake when I go for a walk, when the food is to be served or if we have guests. The rest of the time they are dead to the world.

Sloth is considered one of the seven deadliest sins. It is associated with wickedness. An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop is such a common saying – especially by parents and teachers to their wards.

The whole purpose of our lives seems to be to work really hard in order to be idle at some point. The idea of heaven in every religion is to lie around, eating, drinking, playing harps. I dream of lying on beaches or in flower filled meadows and never having to see another human again.

Humans work harder than any other creature (not counting those animals that are used as beast of burden like oxen, donkeys, horses etc). But even in that there is variability. The Frenchman works much less than a Japanese for instance.  One of the reasons is that humans often override impulses to slow down as they are driven by the desire to acquire resources that are far in excess of what they need.  A squirrel stows away what he might need for the winter ahead but a human works for retirement, to replace cars with newer models or buy jewellery. All the other primates gather their day’s resources and then sit down to enjoy them. Humans just want more and they call it civilization.

How idle are animals?  Animals forage for their day’s food and spend the rest of the time doing nothing in particular. Even animals like hummingbirds who seem so industrious, find the nectar they need and then go back to their trees.  Social activity comes in a distant third to eating and resting. According to animal behaviourists, “When more time must be spent foraging, animals sacrifice the time spent on aggressive behaviour rather than time spent on resting.”

Biologists engaged in a new study called Time Budget Analysis have found that most creatures do almost nothing at all. They eat when they need to or can. They court and breed driven by inbuilt genetic impulses. Some of them build temporary shelters.  And then what? Fun like picking fleas off each other, playing, basking in the sun, sleeping, rocking back and forth, ambling, sitting, watching the sun go down, gossiping. According to zoologists at the University of Vermont who have studied comparative laziness in animals, “No organisms do every much. Being lazy is almost universal”

But, are animals lazy or does their inertia  mean something?  Biologists say that animal inactivity is never born of aimless indolence, but serves many purposes. Some animals sit around to preserve calories, others to improve digestion of the calories they have consumed. Some do it to stay cool, others to keep warm. Predators and prey alike are best camouflaged when they are not fidgeting. Some creatures linger quietly in their territory to guard it, and others stay home to avoid being cannibalized by their neighbours.  Efficient predators have more free time and thus appear lazier than relatively inept predators that have little free time. Animals that have no competitors for their food, take their time, like beetles. Those that have competition, work harder. 

Scientists believe that if they can understand the reasons for inactivity, they can understand some of the mysteries of how animals survive harsh environments and lean times and why a certain species is found in a certain place.

A lion can lie in the same place without budging, for 12 hours at a stretch. A lion eats an enormous amount in one sitting which is why he needs so much resting time in the heat . Monkeys are not nature's indefatigable acrobats - they sit around for three-quarters of the day, not to mention the 12 hours of the night they spend sleeping.  No dawn rising for them- most species get up very late.

Hummingbirds are supposed to be the world's most vigorous fliers, but these birds spend 80% of their day perched motionless on a twig: at night, they sleep.  Hummingbirds need frequent breaks. To hover in midair while sipping from long-tubed flowers, they must beat their wings at a rate of 60 times per second, burning more fuel in calories per gram of body weight when flying than anything else ever studied. In fact flying is so draining for most birds that they are better off doing nothing unless the food is calorie rich. To help assure that they can get nectar without having to travel too far for their dinner, sun birds will choose a territory and stand around on the perimeter, waiting for the flowers within it to become plump with nectar. 

For some creatures, immobility carries many benefits. The spade-foot toad of the south-western desert burrows underground and refuses to budge for 11 months of the year. In that time, it does not eat, drink, or excrete waste; conserving energy by turning down its core metabolism to one-fifth of what it is during its single active month. The fringe-toed lizard, which lives in the desert, sits motionless just below the surface of the sand for hours, with nothing sticking up but its eyes. As the lizards sit, the sand warms and invigorates them and makes them incredibly quick at catching even butterflies that pass by. They also avoid their own predators like snakes by making themselves immobile. By staying snug in its sandy blanket, the lizard cuts down on water loss. All desert creatures wait for the rain. Spade-foot toads come out only in July, when the annual rains bring insects to feed on. Male and female toads meet and mate the very first night they emerge from their rock-like state, and then they begin eating enough to put on an extra 30 percent in body fat to make it through their dormant 11 months. 

Even the busy bees and ants dedicate only about 20 per cent of the day to doing chores. Otherwise, the insects stay still.  The myth of the tireless ant or bee comes from observing the anthills or hives in which activity is ceaseless. But humans consider whole colonies rather than individuals. Studies at Harvard University reveal the curious fact that ants and bees are born with a set amount of energy which is not dependant on the food they eat, but on their genetics. Like batteries, their energy can be used up quickly or slowly. The harder they work, the quicker they die. Which is why they rest a lot. 

Several hundred species of mammals go into hibernation each winter, cutting down on energy expenditure by lowering their metabolic rates. Ground squirrels slow their heart rate to only one or two beats per minute, and the body temperature down to near freezing. For herbivores, winter hibernation makes sense because there is nothing to eat, no sex and lots of hungry predators.

Even the animal that stands for laziness, the sloth has a reason for its inactivity. Its hangs by its arms, sleeps 15 hours a day and moves so infrequently that algae grows on its coat. But, by moving so slowly, it stays inconspicuous to predators and its fungal coat makes it resemble the plant it hangs from.

The short tailed shrew rests 68% of the day and spends only 3% foraging. The crow rests for 60%  The walrus  rests for 70% and fish for 18% of the day. The male Anolis lizard socializes for 52% of the day, rests for 26% and hunts for 22%, The female on the other hands hunts for 86% and rests for only 4% The synonym for work is “as busy as a beaver” but beavers work for a maximum of five hours a day when needed and then retreat back into their homes. 

The Gorilla rests for 51%, the orangutan for 40%, the spider monkey between 54-63% , the lemur for 53% and the Howler monkey for 70%.

Animals seem to be far superior mathematicians in managing time. Everything is calculated : how far and how much is the food and water available, much energy will be spent , what is the weather, how hot will it be in motion, how : basically cost-benefit analyses, asking questions like: How high is the cost of foraging compared to the potential calories that may be gained?  Scientists who compute using the same factors usually come to the same conclusion as the animal – that it is better to be still than to move.

Perhaps if we relaxed more, there would be less harm done to the planet and less strife.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Mights and mirror of soul

Today I am not in a good mood.  I have spent the last week throwing out papers from my house and I have removed two truckloads or so it seems without making the slightest difference. The government has decided to paint the walls of the compound round my house and the painters have trampled on and destroyed most of the bushes and removed the vines on the walls. Ten years of greenery gone in a week. Most Indians have such little respect for flora that I am surprised that even one tree exists in this country.

I see no reason why I should not destroy your day by giving you information about animals that will make you feel ill as well. You can read the rest at your own risk.

Have you ever felt like scratching your eyes ? Why do you feel itchy ? You probably have – like most humans – a colony of tiny insects living in your eyelashes. These eyelash mites, under a microscope look like tiny wormlike cockroaches with stumps for legs. They live in your eyelash follicles and feed on the oil excretions and dead skin cells. During the day their heads are burrowed into the follicle as they eat insatiably and avoid light. They come out at night and run all over your face , at a speed of 8–16 cm per hour, to eat, mate and lay their eggs. When their eggs hatch you have more mite babies running all over your eyes and face.

Demodex folliculorum  is a tiny mite,  about 0.4 mm long and it  lives in your pores and the hair follicles of your nose, forehead, cheek, and chin, and roots of your eyelashes. A follicle is the pore from which a hair grows. It has a semi-transparent elongated body that has 2 segments with 8 short legs. The mite has a pin-like mouth part for eating skin cells, hormones and sebum (oil) that accumulates in the hair follicle. An individual female may lay up to 25 eggs in a single follicle. When mature, the mites leave the follicle, mate, and find a new follicle in which to lay their eggs. The whole cycle takes between 14 to 18 days. Actually there are two mites. D. folliculorum was discovered in 1842.  D. brevis was identified as separate in 1963. D. folliculorum is found in hair follicles, while D. brevis lives in sebaceous glandsconnected to hair follicles. D. brevis  is slightly shorter than D. folliculorum.

Both species are primarily found in the face, near the nose, the eyelashesand eyebrows. Females of Demodex folliculorum are larger and rounder than males. Both male and female Demodex mites have a genital opening, and fertilization is internal. Mating takes place in the follicle opening, and eggs are laid inside the hair follicles or sebaceous glands. The six-legged larvaehatch after three to four days, and the larvae develop into adults in about seven days. The mites have tiny claws, and needlelike mouthparts for eating skin cells. Their bodies are layered with scales, which help them anchor themselves in the follicle.
People with oily skin, or those who use cosmetics heavily and don't wash thoroughly, have the heaviest infestations.. but most adults carry a few mites. Inflammation and infection often result when large numbers of these mites congregate in a single follicle. What seems to be an itchy inflammation could often just be a heavy infestation of these animals.
Apparently they do not do much harm except that, if too many are in one follicle, that eyelash will come loose and fall out easily. If you use eyeliner and mascara, you most definitely have more of them! If you don’t wash off your eyeliner and mascara you probably already have an infestation. People who wear a lot of eye makeup often complain that their eyelashes are falling off. The make up is not to blame. It becomes such rich food for the mites that they multiply even faster and then 25 or more push down into one follicle loosening it and pushing it out.  No scrubbing will get them out – I’m told washing closed eyes with baby shampoo or Tea Tree Oil shampoo helps keep their numbers down. Another oil recommended for the treatment of these mites is macadamia-nut oils. The best treatment for eyelash mites is to remove all traces of makeup at the end of a day. Not a single product can grow longer and thicker lashes but applying these commercial preparations that the advertising agencies keep telling lies about, will certainly increase the mites as most of them are oil based.

Apparently eyelash mites prefer older people because they tend to have oiler skin so two thirds of old people have them – could that be why they blink so much and scratch their eyes and have virtually no eyelashes? 50% of adults and 30% children (The lower rate of children may be because children produce much less sebum) have them and they spread through direct contact .
 The dead mites decompose inside the hair follicles or sebaceous glands. Recent research has indicated that the common skin malady rosacea  in which parts of the face specially the skin round the nose turns red, bruised and itchy may be caused by the decomposing mites, possibly due to the bacterium Bacillus oleroniusfound in their bodies.

Normally, the mites have no adverse symptoms, but if you already have a suppressed immune system, caused by stress or illness mite populations can dramatically increase, resulting in a condition known as demodicosisor Demodex mite bite, characterised by itching, inflammation and other skin disorders. Blepharitis(inflammation of the eyelids) can also be caused by Demodex mites.

 Our eyes are said to be the 'windows to our soul.' Next time you look into your beloved’s soul, look for the parasites at the gateway. If you don’t believe me, look for yourself. Remove an eyelash or eyebrow hair and place it under a microscope.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Holy Cats

If only I could be sure that dogs and cats would get along I would immediately bring 5 cats home from my shelter. For one thing, they would drive away the rats who have now taken their toll of my clothes and books and who seem to have made friends with my dogs. But my dogs fight so much among themselves to get close to me, that I doubt if they would let a cat survive.

The colder it grows, the more I want a cat to sit on my lap and another to let me bury my toes in her fur.

My thoughts turn to the most influential person on Earth, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the founder of the most widespread religion on Earth, Islam.

The prophet was a great cat lover. Muezza was the name of his favourite cat

As the legend goes, Muhammad awoke one day to the sounds of the Azaan, the Muslim daily call to prayer. Preparing to attend, he began to dress himself; however, he soon discovered his cat Muezza sleeping on the sleeve of his prayer robe. Rather than wake her, he used a pair of scissors to cut the sleeve off, leaving the cat undisturbed.

Another version is that the Prophet was reading from the Qur’an to a group of listeners in the desert. A sickly cat walked up to Muhammad, sat down on the hem of his very precious robe and went to sleep.  The day passed and no one stirred. The cat, snuggled in the robes of the Prophet remained asleep. As evening fell, all were to return to their dwelling places.  Silently, the prophet  took a knife, cut off the hem of his robe on which the sick cat still lay sleeping, destroying the finest of robes, and left the cat undisturbed.

The Prophet was so attached to his cat that when he gave sermons he let Muezza rest on his lap and he also drank from water previously drunk by his cat. The Prophet of Islam was once performing ablution for prayers from a pot of water. A cat passed there and turned its eyes at the pot of water with a thirsty look. The Prophet realised at once that the cat was very thirsty, so he stopped the ablution and placed the pot before the cat. Only after the cat had fully quenched its thirst, did the Prophet resume the ablution. Legend holds that the 'M' marking on the forehead of the tabby was created by the prophet as he rested his hand lightly on the brow of his favourite cat.

Abu Hurayrah, famous as a companion of the Prophet and a major narrator of his sayings was given the affectionate nickname Abu Hurayrah (literally father of kittens) by the Prophet because he used to care for a small male cat.

There is also a legend in which a cat saved the Prophet's life from a deadly snake. The story is narrated by Annemarie Schimmel "There are variants of the story of how Abu Hurayra's cat, which he always carried in his bag, saved the Prophet from an obnoxious snake, whereupon the Prophet petted her so that the mark of his fingers is still visible in the four dark lines on most cats' foreheads, and, because the Prophet's hand had stroked her back, cats never fall on their backs”.

Due primarily to the love Muhammad displayed for Muezza, Muslims are traditionally encouraged to cherish cats. The Hadith, which are the oral tales of the life of the Prophet, have recorded that the Muslim will be punished who mistreats a cat.  Al-Bukhari reported a hadith regarding a woman who locked up a cat, refusing to feed it till it died. The Prophet Muhammad said that her punishment on the Day of Judgment would be torture and Hell.

In another story from the Hadith, Dawud ibn Salih ibn Dinar at-Tammar quoted his mother as saying that “her mistress sent her with some pudding to Aisha, the Prophet’s wife, who was offering prayer. She made a sign to me to place it down. A cat came and ate some of it, but when Aisha finished her prayer, she ate from the place where the cat had eaten. She stated: The Messenger of Allah said: It is not unclean: it is one of those who go round among you. She added: I saw the Messenger of Allah  performing ablution from the water left over by the cat.”

Islam teaches Muslims, in relation to a cat, that:

the cat should not be sold or bought like traded goods.That is because of the hadeeth of Abuâl-Zubayr who said:  “when asked Jaabir about the price of dogs and cats. He said, The Prophet forbade that.(Narrated by Muslim, 1569).

Cats’ saliva is harmless unless the cat has "visible impurities" in the mouth; that Muslims are free to live with cats but they must treat cats well, providing the cat with enough water and food and giving "roaming time" 

Thousands of Sufi stories include cats. Sheikh Ashraf's Madrasa cat, who helped the teachers to bring order to the school, even sacrificed itself for the sake of the disciples, or the tale of the Sufi master from Baghdad, Shaikh Abu Bakr al-Shibli (d. 945) who was seen by one of his friends in a dream when he passed away, On being asked what Allah had done to him, he said that he had been granted admission to Paradise, but was asked by Allah if he knew the reason for this blessing. Shaikh Shibli enumerated all his religious duties but none of his acts of piety had saved him. Finally Allah asked him, ‘Do you remember the cold day in Baghdad when it was snowing and you were walking in your coat when you saw a tiny kitten on a wall shivering with cold, and you took it and put it under your warm coat? For the sake of this kitten We have forgiven you.’

If every Muslim would just take a cat and treat it well, we might see more. As it is, they are being killed in the thousands and their meat sold as chicken and their fur commercially. That is why the rats are so many. Remember this :

"Those who are kind and considerate to Allah's creatures, Allah bestows His kindness and affection on them. Show kindness to the creatures on the earth so that Allah may be kind to you." Hadith - Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Emotions-a gift of our ancestors.

If only I could be sure that dogs and cats would get along I would immediately bring 5 cats home from my shelter. For one thing, they would drive away the rats who have now taken their toll of my clothes and books and who seem to have made friends with my dogs. But my dogs fight so much among themselves to get close to me, that I doubt if they would let a cat survive.

The colder it grows, the more I want a cat to sit on my lap and another to let me bury my toes in her fur.

My thoughts turn to the most influential person on Earth, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the founder of the most widespread religion on Earth, Islam.

The prophet was a great cat lover. Muezza was the name of his favourite cat

As the legend goes, Muhammad awoke one day to the sounds of the Azaan, the Muslim daily call to prayer. Preparing to attend, he began to dress himself; however, he soon discovered his cat Muezza sleeping on the sleeve of his prayer robe. Rather than wake her, he used a pair of scissors to cut the sleeve off, leaving the cat undisturbed.

Another version is that the Prophet was reading from the Qur’an to a group of listeners in the desert. A sickly cat walked up to Muhammad, sat down on the hem of his very precious robe and went to sleep.  The day passed and no one stirred. The cat, snuggled in the robes of the Prophet remained asleep. As evening fell, all were to return to their dwelling places.  Silently, the prophet  took a knife, cut off the hem of his robe on which the sick cat still lay sleeping, destroying the finest of robes, and left the cat undisturbed.

The Prophet was so attached to his cat that when he gave sermons he let Muezza rest on his lap and he also drank from water previously drunk by his cat. The Prophet of Islam was once performing ablution for prayers from a pot of water. A cat passed there and turned its eyes at the pot of water with a thirsty look. The Prophet realised at once that the cat was very thirsty, so he stopped the ablution and placed the pot before the cat. Only after the cat had fully quenched its thirst, did the Prophet resume the ablution. Legend holds that the 'M' marking on the forehead of the tabby was created by the prophet as he rested his hand lightly on the brow of his favourite cat.

Abu Hurayrah, famous as a companion of the Prophet and a major narrator of his sayings was given the affectionate nickname Abu Hurayrah (literally father of kittens) by the Prophet because he used to care for a small male cat.

There is also a legend in which a cat saved the Prophet's life from a deadly snake. The story is narrated by Annemarie Schimmel "There are variants of the story of how Abu Hurayra's cat, which he always carried in his bag, saved the Prophet from an obnoxious snake, whereupon the Prophet petted her so that the mark of his fingers is still visible in the four dark lines on most cats' foreheads, and, because the Prophet's hand had stroked her back, cats never fall on their backs”.

Due primarily to the love Muhammad displayed for Muezza, Muslims are traditionally encouraged to cherish cats. The Hadith, which are the oral tales of the life of the Prophet, have recorded that the Muslim will be punished who mistreats a cat.  Al-Bukhari reported a hadith regarding a woman who locked up a cat, refusing to feed it till it died. The Prophet Muhammad said that her punishment on the Day of Judgment would be torture and Hell.

In another story from the Hadith, Dawud ibn Salih ibn Dinar at-Tammar quoted his mother as saying that “her mistress sent her with some pudding to Aisha, the Prophet’s wife, who was offering prayer. She made a sign to me to place it down. A cat came and ate some of it, but when Aisha finished her prayer, she ate from the place where the cat had eaten. She stated: The Messenger of Allah said: It is not unclean: it is one of those who go round among you. She added: I saw the Messenger of Allah  performing ablution from the water left over by the cat.”

Islam teaches Muslims, in relation to a cat, that:

the cat should not be sold or bought like traded goods.That is because of the hadeeth of Abuâl-Zubayr who said:  “when asked Jaabir about the price of dogs and cats. He said, The Prophet forbade that.(Narrated by Muslim, 1569).

Cats’ saliva is harmless unless the cat has "visible impurities" in the mouth; that Muslims are free to live with cats but they must treat cats well, providing the cat with enough water and food and giving "roaming time" 

Thousands of Sufi stories include cats. Sheikh Ashraf's Madrasa cat, who helped the teachers to bring order to the school, even sacrificed itself for the sake of the disciples, or the tale of the Sufi master from Baghdad, Shaikh Abu Bakr al-Shibli (d. 945) who was seen by one of his friends in a dream when he passed away, On being asked what Allah had done to him, he said that he had been granted admission to Paradise, but was asked by Allah if he knew the reason for this blessing. Shaikh Shibli enumerated all his religious duties but none of his acts of piety had saved him. Finally Allah asked him, ‘Do you remember the cold day in Baghdad when it was snowing and you were walking in your coat when you saw a tiny kitten on a wall shivering with cold, and you took it and put it under your warm coat? For the sake of this kitten We have forgiven you.’

If every Muslim would just take a cat and treat it well, we might see more. As it is, they are being killed in the thousands and their meat sold as chicken and their fur commercially. That is why the rats are so many. Remember this :

"Those who are kind and considerate to Allah's creatures, Allah bestows His kindness and affection on them. Show kindness to the creatures on the earth so that Allah may be kind to you." Hadith - Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Law of Nature

Next time you call someone a rat, think of what it means.

Two rats unknown to each other were kept together in a large cage. One rat was trapped in a small restrainer -- a closed tube with a door that could be nudged open from the outside. The second rat roamed free in the cage around the restrainer, able to see and hear the trapped cage-mate. The free rat hearing distress calls from its compatriot became agitated and learned to open the restrainer, and did so with greater efficiency over time with no expectation of a reward. Though slow to act at first, once the rat discovered the ability to free its companion, it would take action almost immediately upon placement in the test arena. If given access to a small hoard of chocolate chips, the free rat would save some for the captive.

To discover whether the rat was actually reacting to his fellow prisoner’s stress, the experimenters used a stuffed toy mouse. The rat did not open the door.

In another variation, as soon as the rat in the restrainer was opened, he was allowed to go free whereas his rescuer was not. Even so, the free rat continued to save his companion.

In yet another experiment, chocolate chips were put in a corner of the cage. The free rat had the option of eating chocolate or freeing his unknown cellmate. In every case, the rat first freed his companion and then started to feed.

The researchers came to the unavoidable conclusion that what they were seeing was empathy and selfless behaviour.

Anyone who has ever dealt with animals, knows they are capable of doing for each other without any selfishness, and that they not only have deep emotions but feel them in others. So many times scientists have found “emotional contagion” in animals - a situation in which one animal’s stress worsens another’s. Scientists tried to limit this to animals that they felt were “intelligent” or large brained- apes, whales. But, this study on rats done by University of Chicago neuroscientists, on December 8th in Science magazine, showed that all animals have pro-social helping attitudes. "There are a lot of ideas in literature showing that empathy is not unique to humans, and it has been well demonstrated in apes, but in rodents it was not very clear. We put together, in one series of experiments, evidence of helping behaviour based on empathy in rodents, and that's really the first time it's been seen" says Jean Decety, co author of the study.

Mark Rowlands, professor of philosophy at the University of Miami, whose latest book is Can Animals Be Moral?,gives some examples. One of them was how his two dogs, a ferocious German shepherd/Malamute cross and a wolf-dog mix, looked after his baby son “ during the year or so that their old lives overlapped with that of my son, I was alternately touched, shocked, amazed, and dumbfounded by the kindness and patience they exhibited towards him. They would follow him from room to room, everywhere he went in the house and lie down next to him while he slept. Crawled on, dribbled on, kicked, elbowed and kneed: these occurrences were all treated with a resigned fatalism. The fingers in the eye they received on a daily basis would be shrugged off with an almost Zen-like calm. In many respects, they were better parents than me. If my son so much as squeaked during the night, I would instantly feel two cold noses pressed in my face: get up, your son needs you.”

This is available on You Tube: A dog had been hit by a car and lay unconscious on a busy motorway in Chile. The dog’s canine companion, at enormous risk to its own life, weaved in and out of traffic, and eventually managed to drag the unconscious dog to the side of the road.

“The old elephant Eleanor, the matriarch of her family, is dying. She is unable to stand, so Grace, a younger unrelated elephant, attempts to help her, lifting and pushing her back to her feet. She tries to get Eleanor to walk, nudging her along gently. But Eleanor stumbles, and falls again. Grace appears very distressed, and shrieks loudly. She persists in trying to get Eleanor back to her feet, to no avail. Grace stays by the fallen figure of Eleanor for another hour, while night falls.” Grace is not unusual among elephants. Crippled elephants are protected by the rest of the herd which often slows down to accommodate them.

De Waal relates the story of Kuni, a female bonobo chimpanzee at Twycross Zoo in England. One day, Kuni encountered a starling on the ground. She picked up the starling with one hand, and climbed to the top of the highest tree in her enclosure, wrapping her legs around the trunk so that she had both hands free to hold the bird. She then carefully unfolded the bird’s wings and, spreading them wide open, threw the bird as hard as she could towards the barrier of the enclosure.

In 1959, the experimental psychologist Russell Church demonstrated that rats wouldn’t push a lever that delivered food if doing so caused other rats to receive an electric shock. Likewise, in 1964, Stanley Wechkin and colleagues at the North-western University in Chicago demonstrated that hungry rhesus monkeys refused to pull a chain that delivered them food if doing so gave a painful shock to another monkey. One monkey persisted in this refusal for 12 days.

Kindness and patience are widely spread throughout the animal kingdom. And why should they not be? According to philosophers and scientists from David Hume to Charles Darwin, morality is not an intellectual addition but a basic part of our nature. The empathy and sympathy we have for those around us are basic components of our genetics and biology, traits that help forge social bonds that aid in the survival of individuals and groups, and is sub-cortical behaviour - closer to a reflex than a thought, and driven by ancient parts of the brain. In which case how simple it is to understand why animals also have kindness and compassion. After all they are the same as us in terms of their evolution, their genetic structure, the structure of their brains, and their behaviour. There is this illusion that humans have some exclusive qualities that no other living creature possesses. That is why scientists feel compelled to constantly put animals into laboratories to see if they have any emotions or intelligence.

Empathy is not unique to humans – in fact, I see it far less in humans and more in animals all the time. If humans had this quality we would not have armies and wars, guns and violence. If one human had the ability to put himself in another’s place and feel for him, the world would be an ideal place. There is a law of nature. The scum always gets to the top. Is that why humans rule the planet?

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Camel-Ship of Desert

The Indian camel, the single humped or Dromedary, is the pride of Rajasthan and thousands of poor families are dependant on the camel for their travel across the desert. It lives for 40-50 years. The camel takes 15 months to give birth and it attains maturity after it is 5 years old. It has one child at a time. The young ones are raised by their mother for a period of two years after their birth. They are low maintenance animals, needing dry grass and thorny plants to survive. They can survive in very high temperatures. The thick coat of a camel reflects sunlight and serves as insulation from the heat of the sand.

This animal is disappearing before our eyes. In Rajasthan, the camel has become expensive and rare. The 6 lakh camels have now come down to 2.5 lakh. Within 5 years they will be no more than 5000 camels and these will only be owned by the very rich or the zoos that show rare creatures.

Is the camel being phased out because roads and vehicles have come in? No. As the price of petrol/diesel rises, a large part of the rural population has gone back to buying camels. In some of the more remote villages, camels are still used by the post office for their mail service. Camels pulling carts are used to deliver goods, in banking and to draw water out of deep water wells. Entire families and their household equipment migrate on their backs. It is a common sight to see camel caravans with large bags filled with grasses used for feeding horses, oxen, water buffalo. Tourists say that one of the most enchanting experiences you can have in India is to ride through the desert on a camel’s back and camp out under the stars.

Unfortunately, the price of a camel which used to be only a few thousand has soared – because there are no camels. In 10 years the population has come down to one fourth – only because of its illegal slaughter outside the state. A sturdy male now fetches up to Rs.40,000/-.

The reason for that is simple: it is being smuggled to other states to be killed and eaten. The Raikas, who were the traditional breeders of camels, are now selling them for slaughter.

Five years ago, the rich people of one community decided that during Id, they did not want to kill goats but camels. So camels started being smuggled to Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Karnataka. They went through Bihar into Bangladesh.

How is a camel killed during Id. First, one day before, the camel’s front leg is tied so that it cannot run or struggle without falling. Then a knife is taken and words are incised on its back. Its jaw is broken to keep it in pain and docile. Then, the next day the man takes a razor and puts it on a stick. He cuts its throat so that blood comes gushing out. The camel keeps standing till it weakens from loss of blood. It sits down then it lies down. When it lies down, the children looking at it, dance on its stomach and kick it to make it hurry up and die. It takes an hour to die with pools of blood around it. Its head is then cut off and put on a stick and its meat is eaten.

This has been happening during Id. But now, the same community want camel meat all the time. So an illegal market for camel meat has opened in Hyderabad. The Municipality turns a blind eye because it is in the heart of old Hyderabad, a dangerous area that respects no laws.

What is the route? Camels are being sold at weekly bazaars in Rajasthan. The great Pushkar mela , for instance, which used to be a camel celebration is now attended mainly by animal smugglers and butchers. These come pretending to be farmers. Why would a farmer need a camel? Does a camel plough the field? But these so called farmers all come from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh. The camels are taken by road through Haryana, either walking or crammed into trucks with their legs tied. In Baghpat they are killed and the meat sent to Meerut and Hyderabad. I have just caught 30 in Delhi going to Meerut and 64 in Jhajjar going to Baghpat. The SP of Baghpat told me that he caught camels almost every day until the trade stopped. Then, the day he was posted out, the mafia got to know and the trade started the same day.

Other camels are sent to Bangladesh via Bihar. I have just caught 140 in Katihar and 49 in Araria. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka have forbidden the entry of camels. People were bringing them in, pretending they were coming for joyrides for children.

It is illegal to kill camels. The Kerala High Court has ruled that camels are not meat animals and they cannot be killed and eaten. But the police turn a blind eye to the groups of camels being taken across India.

There is no excuse to take camels out of Rajasthan. They are not farm animals, they do not survive the tarred road, so they are not transport animals. They die very quickly on the beaches and have been forbidden to go there by law. They are only good in the desert where they save lives and homes.

They cannot be killed at Bakr Id because only goats are allowed. After all it is Bakr Id and not Oonth Id. Today it is camels, tomorrow it might become fashionable to kill cows or tigers for this day.

I have written to the Rajasthan Chief Minister to declare the camel the state animal and to ban its sale outside Rajasthan. No camels should be sold at weekly bazaars, and certainly no farmers from Baghpat or anywhere outside Rajasthan should be allowed to buy any.

If this does not happen, say goodbye to this animal, full of temperament and pride and character. It is already on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species. It has become yet another victim to our inability to enforce any laws in India.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Animals in India have no mercy from law makers

Last week an 80 year old man in Mumbai was beaten up by three goondas for feeding dogs and cats near his home. The police refused to register a case until my lawyer went to the station. In Thane, the RWA secretary stuffed a puppy’s mouth with cloth and then beat it to death. Many people in the building went to the police with the postmortem report. The police refused to take cognizance until I stepped in. In Delhi a doctor called Kuldeep Tayal in Vasant Kunj sat on an old female dog and stabbed her eyes out with his bunch of keys. The people who went to the police station could not get the police to respond. Again I had to call and he was arrested after weeks of dillydallying. A man keeps 5 dogs in a cage on his roof and breeds and sells them. The neighbours who complain are asked by the police what their locus standi is. In Karnataka a man throws acid on a buffalo for entering his fields. The complainant sits for three hours at the police station before he calls me. A team of animal activists stop a truck in Pune. They are attacked with guns and lathis by the illegal butchers. They call the police frantically. They do not turn up. A college dean in Seoni ties up puppies with barbed wire and throws them outside the campus. Outraged students call the police who ask them to respect their teachers. Then they call me and then he backs down.

The police in India does not understand what the rest of the world’s police forces have understood and acted on. That cruelty to animals is directly linked to cruelty to human beings. In the West they have computers in which any complaints about animal cruelty are directly fed into a crime computer and become part of the record of the human being that has been cruel. The police then keep a special computer watch on this person. In almost every case, the police say, within a few years the same person will come up before the police for beating his family, armed robbery, rape or murder. In India, every time a complainant goes to the police they will respond negatively. None of them know the laws. First they ask the complainant what his/her locus standi is. Then, after they make a written complaint, they refuse to turn it into an FIR. Finally, when the FIR is made, they will take money from the accused and bring in the complainant at odd hours for a ”compromise” – as if it is a personal matter between two people.

The whole country has now understood that unless there is severe police reform, we cannot be protected. The police are the most vicious of all. Half of the people who complain to me and have police dealings say that they will ignore animal cruelty in future because dealing with the police made them sick. Getting them to move on the case took weeks and hundreds of calls. Getting them to move honestly without asking for money is not possible – especially in the case of illegal animal slaughter. In Tamil Nadu, not one case was booked for years – even though 2 lakh cows are jammed into trucks and sent weekly to Kerala. Then, finally with the combination of Chief Minister Dr. Jayalalithaa, an honest DGP and a dynamic Animal Husbandry secretary, Tamil Nadu has suddenly ordered its police to catch illegal trucks. In one night 26 trucks with over 2000 animals were caught. Even then, in one district, the police caught the animals , gave them to a shelter and then arrived at the shelter two days later to threaten the shelter owner into returning the animals to the smugglers. When I complained about the local SP to the DGP, the SP made up a pack of lies that the shelter owner was demanding money to keep them. Finally the shelter owner went to court – and the police opposed her in court, taking the side of the smugglers – and she won the case keeping the animals.

Odisha has a steady traffic of cows to the slaughterhouses of Andhra Pradesh. Any animal activist who tries to stop them is arrested by the police. One was even urinated on. Animal activists lead brave but dangerous lives.

Until now the humble widow on the street who feeds fifteen dogs has been unprotected. When she is recognized as a public servant, then the activist who is trying to save the cows of India will get far more strength.

The first step in giving recognition and protection to people who take care of animals in their colonies has been made by the government. They have started issuing cards called Colony Caretakers to people who look after animals in their areas. These cards will be useful for the police who only back down in front of government might. You can see the forms on the site of the Animal Welfare Board of India (www.awbi.org.) Theyare easy to fill in. You need to send your photos and some form of ID. If you cannot send this through the Net then you can send them by normal mail to-

The Secretary, ANIMAL WELFARE BOARD OF INDIA, 3/1, Third Seaward Road, Valmiki Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai - 600 041.

Thousands of people have responded in the large cities. I am writing this for you today so that you can inform people in smaller towns and villages across India. Let the government also see that animal welfare people run into lakhs and are every bit as determined to do good and to preserve this country’s culture of kindness, as the police and criminals are to destroy it.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Intoxication

Naisargi Dave is a professor / author in Canada who comes to India once a year. She knows I thirst for unusual books. This year’s treasure trove includes an amazing book called Zoobiquity, written by a medical doctor Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and it talks about the sameness of all species.

One of the things we have in common is a love for intoxication.

Humans throw away their lives, destroy their families, ruin their careers, in search of that which makes them high for a few hours. Cigarettes, alcohol, heroin, crack, opium, glues, cough mixtures, LSD… the list of substances that are smoked, drunk, eaten or injected is endless and no matter what governments do to get rid of the substances and no matter how stringent the laws, lakhs of people carry on abusing their bodies in search of chemical mind altering happiness.

So do animals. Tasmania, in Australia, is one of the leading growers of opium. Wallabies, which look like mini kangaroos, ignore the fencing and strict patrolling to eat the poppy sap. They flail about and some of them pass out and have to be carried away. Wallabies, who are drug addicts, have the staring large eyes of addicts.

Birds eat the Brazilian pepper tree berries and then fly crazily into buildings, killing themselves. In Scandinavia, it is common to see birds eating alcohol filled rowan berries, falling drunk into the snow and freezing to death. Horses that eat fermented apples go equally crazy and harm themselves. The tree shrews of Malaysia’s rain forests prefer the alcoholic nectar of the Bertram palm to food. Pigs that eat pomace, the pulpy mass that remains after apples have been crushed and pressed to extract the juice to make cider, get so drunk they scream and whimper. Squirrels cluster round fermented pumpkins and goats love fermented plums. When the Mahua tree of North India bears fruit, thousands of animals and birds come from far away to gorge themselves on its alcoholic content. In my garden the bees buzz round the bhang plants, forsaking all other flowers.

In India rhesus monkeys that stray into the sugarcane distilleries of Uttar Pradesh, stop eating and drink themselves into a stupor, often electrocuting themselves on the high tension wires. Monkeys drinking alcohol is so old that Aristotle, the Greek philosopher 384 BC – 322 BC, recorded ways to trap wild monkeys by laying out jugs of wine for them to drink and then picking them up when they passed out. In the Caribbean islands the monkeys enter hotel bars and run off with customers’ cocktails.

Some animals, like humans, seek out intoxicants at a great risk to themselves. Bighorn sheep in Canada climb steep cliffs in search of psychotropic lichen. They scrape the stones so hard that their teeth are destroyed.

Cattle and horses that graze in the western United States eat a weed called Locoweed, go weak in the knees, lose their sense of direction and suffer irreversible brain damage, becoming easy prey to predators. Amazingly, one drugged animal makes the others want to start as well, so ranchers have to remove them from the herd immediately before others go seeking the weed. Deer and antelope have the same problem.

Drugs can be found in the strangest places. Cane toads produce a hallucinogenic toxin on their skin. Animals, even dogs, who taste this substance, go after the toads to lick them again and again.

Both animals and humans have the same approach to intoxicants. At first they have an aversion – which is probably overcome with peer encouragement. Then, when they start using the drug, they lose control over their bodies, staggering till they pass out. They both have withdrawal symptoms. Darwin has written about a monkey hangover- “On the following morning they were very cross and dismal; they held their aching heads with both hands and wore a most pitiable expression: when beer or wine was offered them they turned away with disgust, but relished the juice of lemons.” The next step is that they both go actively in search of the drug, forgoing sex, food, water and ignoring children. They beg for more and are prepared to do anything. Animals like humans use more when they are in pain or stressed by their surroundings and – amazingly so- by their subordinate social positions.

Artists and musicians claim to produce much better work when smoking weed. Students take methamphetamines to increase their memories. Likewise, some animals reach their peaks when under the influence. Spiders make much more intricate webs when under the influence of marijuana. Flies become hypersexual.

According to scientists, both human and animal bodies have evolved specialized doorways, called receptors, for drugs. Even fish, amphibians and insects have receptors for opiates. From birds to sea urchins and leeches, the receptors for cannabis exist. So, the urge for outside stimulation exists in all beings.

According to Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist in Washington’s University College of Veterinary Medicine, animals and humans go after drugs to dull the pain that they feel. Not physical pain but sadness; what is known as weltschmerz. Weltschmerz is a German word, meaning world-pain and denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind. It is used to denote the psychological pain caused by sadness that can occur when realizing the inappropriateness and cruelty of the world and one’s own weakness and inadequate physical and social circumstances. Weltschmerz can cause depression, resignation and escapism.

An animal is as emotionally vulnerable as a human being. The goat is as sad as you are and often puzzled by the pain and cruelty he sees round him. Animals don’t react in ways that communicate pain to humans: they don’t vocalise, except when they really cannot bear any more. They don’t communicate through their facial features. When they are hurt they withdraw. So, most humans believe that the animal they eat, experiment on , enslave and misuse are “biological machines”, creatures that do not feel pain. (Scientists used to think that about babies as well). But all brain imaging now shows that they respond to the same stimulants of pleasure: finding food, playing with friends, escaping to a hideout, interacting with family, bonding with mothers. Conversely they feel depression, fear, grief and anxiety in any survival threatening situation – as we do.

An intoxicant creates the feeling of an immediate benefit. The animal or the human is not required to “work” first to get the reward, to forage, earn, flee, protect, socialise or love. They go straight to reward when the chemical provides a false signal that all is well. An addict lurks in all of us, animal or human. For, all of us are sad and all of us crave reward; food, praise, a pat on the back, a tummy rub. Basically, a temporary good feeling to ward away the permanent unhappiness of life. Man or animal, some of us prefer chemical intoxication to real life.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Compulsive disorder

I know a girl who spends a lot of her day pulling out tiny hair from the backs of her fingers and scratching her pimples till they bleed and scar. Some humans mutilate themselves by inflicting cuts on their bodies. Not to kill themselves but to cause pain that makes them feel better. Some people chew nails right down to the cuticle and seem to enjoy the ache. Others go and get regular tattoos that hurt a lot. What makes people do this? They give all sorts of fancy names – borderline personality disorder, for instance. The fact is that no one knows what the trigger is.

Do animals do the same? I have adopted a very strange dog who was thrown out of his house because all he did was bite his own body till he got smelly sores. While he has stopped most of it, he does it again when his hair gets long. He pulls the hair out, making whimpering noises of pain- usually when I have visitors. Some years ago, we had a dog who licked and licked his front foot till he had a large wound. Any dressing was quickly bitten off. We had to put an Elizabethan collar round him till the wound healed. Dogs that are tied up in the same place all day are likely to start hurting themselves.

Some owners complain that their cats lick themselves so hard that they get red oozing sores. They do not do it in front of humans, being secret lickers.

Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Alsatians, Great Danes, Dobermans are some of the dogs that also suffer from this: they lick themselves obsessively till they develop sores. Most abused parts of the body are the base and tips of the tail and the legs. This has nothing to do with fungus, fleas or infection. It has no reason. Watch an animal do this and you will see the dazed hypnotized look on its face. Vets have named it Canine Compulsive Disorder.

Turtles do it too, biting at their legs. Snakes chew their tails. Horses bite their flanks violently drawing blood and opening old wounds. This is accompanied with bursts of spinning, kicking and bucking. Zoo animals do it a lot: circling for hours, rubbing their skin to the point of breaking it, banging their heads against walls, picking out hair.

Humans with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) get fixated on cleaning their hands. The same problem is obsessive cats who use their rasping tongues to clean themselves, or as vets call it, overgroom.

Caged birds are the worst. They pull out their feathers from the roots, shrieking with pain but carrying on till the feathers lie in a heap and there is blood on the root shafts.

In nature, grooming each other, monkeys pulling out insects, or simply combing each other’s hair, is done to make each other feel good. Cats and rabbits spend a few hours of each day washing and cleaning themselves. Seals and sea lions comb their own fur. Birds fluff and preen themselves. Snakes finish a meal by wiping their faces on the ground. Humans go to hairdressers and massage parlours to relax. Grooming changes the chemistry of the brain. It releases opiates into the blood, brings down blood pressure, slows breathing. People do lots of small things: twirl hair, twist eyebrows, scratch ears, stroke their own cheeks, bite nails, chew gums, poke noses – anything that relaxes the body . Sometimes these processes are painful – like picking pimples till they burst or scratching scabs before they are dry – but the pain is followed by release. All people do some of these things to maintain an active yet calm state. Self mutilations enlarge this pain-pleasure syndrome. “ Q. Why are you doing this ? A. Because it feels so good when I stop.” The routines at a beauty parlour are also painful- body waxing, threading, acid peels, electrolysis, lasers, botox injections, facelifts. This is pain for self care. This could tip over into self-harm.

When vets see this syndrome, the good ones ask about the environment of an animal. Acute stress, boredom, isolation are the three main factors. The problem of isolation should be solved immediately. This has an immediate impact on the mutilation. All herd animals like horses get very stressed when alone. The single most common denominator among animals who self harm is isolation. Birds, monkeys, donkeys, horses, rabbits, people and pets are all social creatures. Touch plays a big role in the lives of all of these species and, when left alone, that physical contact disappears and anxiety increases. Preening and self-grooming is one way animals and people cope with anxiety. Self touch is soothing but a poor substitute for contact with others.

The boredom of doing the same thing everyday also leads to this problem. Vets advise enriching the environment and doing more things with the animal. Dogs need to be exercised, both mentally and physically. Parrots are known for over-preening, feather plucking and even picking open their flesh with their beaks. Feather plucking is often a symptom of boredom. Parrots are highly intelligent creatures and with nothing to do but preen, they eventually get overzealous. In Phoenix Zoo when two coyotes were found mutilating themselves, the keepers hid their food on different branches, gave them food to play with and made them forage for their food. Within a week, the mutilation had stopped. Basically the animals need to be excited and distracted into wanting to live.

Stress can come when feeding is erratic or the animal is faced with an ever present danger – birds who are in cages with cats around, wrong temperature, harsh smells, for instance. Emotionally disturbing situations cause self-injurious behaviour, particularly those over which the individual has little or no control, like being locked up alone. The cause of stress must be eliminated. Scientists have noted for years that primates in captive situations are prone to self-mutilation, especially if kept in solitary conditions. Rhesus macaques bite themselves. Primates that are extremely frustrated may also present self-harming behaviours. If the animal cannot escape or attack when something or someone induces fear, it may bite itself in the same spot repeatedly. These injuries will start small and eventually become obvious. Sometimes the animals may even lose limbs because the damage is so severe.

Humans too need stimulation. Boredom, as everyone knows, is the starting point of harm to the individual and all the people around him/her. Isolation for a human is the worst thing you can do because we too are herd animals. A number of self mutilators have been cured by simply getting them pets.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Threats n fear

 

I am still reading the book Zoobiquity and one chapter is about the similarity of heart attacks in people and animals. According to the author, a doctor and head of internal medicine in a teaching hospital, whenever a shocking event like an earthquake or tsunami or even a war close by takes place, people get far more heart attacks than normal. Chest pains, arrhythmias and deaths rise. For instance when the Iraqi forces sent Scud missiles into Tel Aviv and civilians faced the possibility of being blown up at random, more Israelis died from heart attacks than from the missiles. Fear and dread is a terrible weapon. I know because I have lived with it most of my life and working with sick and dying animals can literally weaken and break your heart. During the 9/11 time, heart attacks reached an all time high across America. Doctors say that people watching sports matches often keel over from anxiety.

But are humans the only ones that die of fright? No. Bird trappers see that when they throw a net over forest birds and then move to put them into capture boxes, many have died on the spot, terrified by the sudden capture. The heart and the mind are inexorably linked. People die of emotional stress- even though their hearts and arteries are clean and healthy. The only thing that doctors find in such cases is a lightbulb shaped bulge at the bottom of the heart, now known as Takotsubo- direct physical evidence that severe stress (fear, grief, shock, intense negative emotion) can alter the shape of the heart and the way it pumps blood. It is now called the “broken–heart syndrome”. Not just human, every animal gets it. Watch an elephant that lies down by its dead friend or child and dies a few days later. That is Takotsubo. Stress hormones called catecholamines gush into the blood stream, poisoning muscles, causing clots, and causing the heart to beat wildly and dangerously.

Many years ago, a very prominent wildlife scientist in South India was arrested when the tigers that he had captured in order to radio-collar, died immediately on capture. There was no explanation except that the animal had simply died of stress. In zoos, deer die when they are being relocated from one enclosure to another. One deer is darted, the others start running around and then heart attacks kill them. Ignorant zoo officers then try to put the blame on stray dogs.

The catechocholamines in a chased animal rise so high that they overwhelm the skeletal and cardiac muscles and cause them to break down. The skeletal muscles break down and their proteins enter the bloodstream and shut down the kidneys. A sign common to both humans and animals is rust coloured urine. Sports that call for extreme performances often result in this: Horses, dogs and other animals that are used for races simply collapse and die.

Animals that are chased die from the stress of being hunted by predators, hunters, zoologists and wildlife “experts”. Some crumple to the ground and die immediately. Some linger for weeks, listless and depressed till they die. Giraffes that are caught to be relocated die quickly. Deer deaths can go up to 50%. Even wild horses, that are chased and caught, die from what scientists call capture myopathy. Post-capture deaths are 10% – an extremely high figure. In birds it is more.

Human beings are so frightened of being captured and restrained that the number of sudden cardiac deaths in new prisoners is very high. Similarly, nothing is more frightening for an animal than to be captured or restrained. It means they are going to be killed. The brain and heart goes into overload immediately. Even lobsters caught in pots die of fright. Their meat is discoloured and rots faster. Leopards that are caught in Uttarakhand almost never survive their capture. They die by the time they are taken into the zoo – often it is thought to be that the anaesthetic has been badly calculated, but see the thrashing and head butting of a leopard against its cage and you will see an animal that is scared enough to kill itself rather than be killed. Bears and wolves react the same way.

Physical restraint on an animal on a medical table invites terror. Dogs with muzzles overheat and die very quickly – more from fright than the weather.

Noise has the same effect. During the terrible senseless noise and firecrackers of Diwali, thousands of birds and animals die in their nest and trees, not hit by missiles but scared by the terrible sudden noises. Every city loses 20% of its birds during October-November and it can never make them up which is why you don’t see birds around any more. Dogs crouched in the open sewers die. Dogs under the beds of their owner’s homes shiver and die.

Rabbits and sheep die. Rabbits die suddenly when rock music is put on. Sheep and goats die from the noise of a helicopter above them. It has often been thought that music is good for animals but concerts held near zoos has often resulted in several sudden deaths. Dalmatian dogs are especially vulnerable to sudden noise related death. The takotsubo malfunction shows up in all their hearts.

Baby animals that are frightened into hiding, from baby fish, fawns, alligators, rats to birds, have their heart rate decreased out of fear. But in the tension of hiding, a sudden loud noise and the heart literally bursts. Doctors say this is what happens in most crib deaths of human infants as well.

Flocks of small birds often react like this to predatory birds. A raptor swoops down and snatches a bird. The birds near the victim often keel over with fright. Some faint. Others die.

The terror of an animal needs to be understood so that captured or confined animals can survive. We need to understand that the connection between the heart and brain is the same in the human as it is in the tiniest of all creatures.

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Lovebirds

I was in Nagpur last week. I was told of an illegal bird market and so I went on Sunday morning. I saw hundreds of small cages with budgerigars and pigeons in them. Of course the team of People for Animals, Nagpur took the birds and went to the police station. The police helped them – even though they had been mute spectators of this market every week. But as usual the forest department people, who are illiterate and wicked most of the time, refused to take the birds as they were foreign – obviously they had never heard of the Gujarat judgment which says that no birds can be sold – specially not love birds or budgerigars.

But what broke my heart was this: I was looking at the bird cages and I saw a budgie crouching in the corner. She looked unwell so I put my hand in and took her out. She had no legs at all; obviously the result of inbreeding and over-breeding. As I held her in my palm, she flew off to a tree in front. This brave little creature could not sit on the branch because she had no legs so she clung with her mouth to a leaf till her grasp weakened and she fell down on the road. We picked her up and she tried weakly to fly again but she went back into a special cage and I do not think she lasted the day.

Do not buy love birds and budgerigars. Both originally came from Australia and Africa but they are now grown by dealers in Kolkata and sent illegally through the railways, in packed cardboard boxes with little holes for breathing, all over India. Many of them die from the lack of oxygen.

Lovebirds are social and affectionate small parrots. They live, in nature, in small flocks and are monogamous. They pair for life, sitting only with their mates. They do not live very long when separated: like humans they pine. But the dealers and you the buyer, encourage this terrible hardship on them. In nature, they live upto 15 years. In captivity, one to two at the most. They are bred by dealers for their colours. If blue is the fashion or the order placed, then all the babies that are not blue are killed by the breeder.

Many lovebirds are captured and brought into India by smuggling them through the Kolkata port. Captured wild lovebirds don’t last very long and they die mourning the loss of a mate or a flock.

Many people keep lovebirds without understanding their needs. Single-sex birds are bought because they look pretty together. They can’t mate, don’t interact and die of loneliness. Determining a lovebird’s sex is difficult. After it is a year old it may show behavioural signs - females rip papers and males vomit. But this is mainly hearsay and is not a reliable indicator. The only sure method is DNA testing. No seller knows anything at all and he will say anything to get the bird off his hands.

Birds kept individually or brought up hand-fed require frequent attention to stay happy, and if the owner has limited time to spend daily with a single lovebird, they wilt. Since they are social birds, they require companionship the entire day. No one who keeps a bird spends any time at all with it except to call its name while passing by and occasionally poke a finger into its cage.
Lovebirds require large cages of more than a metre each way per bird. Their beaks are made of keratin, which grows continuously. Chewing and destroying wood toys and perches helps to keep beaks trim. They need cuttlefish bones to help provide beak-trimming, calcium and other necessary minerals. They require plenty of toys, such as branches, swings, tunnels, boxes and safe things to chew on and play with. Lack of toys, keeping the birdcage covered too many hours, and lack of companionship or social stimulation leads to boredom, stress and psychological or behavioural problems (nervousness, aggression, feather-plucking, screaming, depression, illness). Lovebirds are intelligent, enjoy baths and like to sun themselves daily. No buyer knows this or cares. He simply wants a noisy pretty bird to keep his children amused – till it dies.

Lovebirds are vegetarian. A fresh mix of various seeds, grains and nuts: millets, canary seeds, peeled oats, safflower, barley, amaranth, uncooked rice, linseed , hempseed , buckwheat, wholegrain bread, cereals, fruits, lentils, weeds, pulses and vegetables, peas, beans ,cauliflower leaves, cabbage leaves, chicory, collard greens, dandelion leaves, endives, mustard leaves, wild grass, sprouted beans, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds – are to be given everyday. How many owners do this? They eat flowers : carnations, chives, herbs' blossoms, hibiscus, honeysuckle, impatiens, lilac, nasturtiums, pansies, passion flowers, roses, sunflowers. Many lovebirds die of malnutrition.

So many of the lovebirds are children of different species. They are sterile hybrids – and the breeder deliberately does this so that no more are born to the buyer. People are so strange that when their bird dies, they immediately want to buy more – because otherwise the cage will go waste - and the breeder needs that to happen.

Everything I have said so far applies to the budgerigar, also commonly sold in illegal pet shops and bazaars. It is a small, long-tailed, seed eating parrot which is captured from Australia and brought here where it is grown in the slums of Kolkata. Budgerigars are naturally green and yellow with black, markings on the nape, back, and wings, but have been bred in captivity to become blue, white, yellow, grey– more than 32 different shades. They are the most mutilated birds and, like dogs, those that are not exactly as the breeder wants them to be are killed immediately. You will see them with crests and mixes of strange colours – all of this is unnatural. So many have now eyes that are bigger than normal and squashed faces and tiny legs. Budgerigars in their natural habitat in Australia are noticeably smaller than those that have been bred. Since these are bred to be bigger and fatter with puffier head feathers, their legs can hardly hold them up and the eyes and beak are sometimes completely obscured by the feathers. In the wild they live 20 years. In captivity, under the best conditions of diet and exercise,  2-4 years. They do not produce children without a nest box.

These birds will be eaten by kites and other large predators if you release them. So they are condemned to a life in captivity. It is your desire for a live toy that keeps breeders in business.

Please don’t buy lovebirds or budgies, and inform me about any markets that they are sold in.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.inwww.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Don't buy instead Adopt one!

Have you reached that state of evolution where you are ready to get a pet dog? Congratulations. You will add a loving member to the family and make a true and loyal friend.

Where are you going to get the dog from?

Please don’t buy one. You will add to the burden of misery in the world by encouraging a criminal who breeds female dogs till they die and separates them from her children early so that they remain sickly. You will encourage a criminal who takes the money in black, pays no taxes and kills his dogs as soon as they stop breeding. Most pet shop puppies come from slum puppy mills where dogs are not bred for good health and temperament, and where they are often raised in inhumane conditions.70% of bought dogs die after a few weeks because they are the result of inbreeding – mother with brother/father/son etc so you will make yourself and your family so miserable that the joy of having a dog will go away.

The best place to find a dog or puppy is your local animal shelter or rescue group. They have plenty of pedigrees, mixed-breeds, big dogs and little dogs -- you’re sure to find a great companion.

When you adopt from a shelter or rescue group, you’ll give a dog a second chance at finding a home. Dogs die in shelters, some from a broken heart at being abandoned, some from disease that they have picked up from a sick dog. Dogs in shelters are at the mercy of all – if food does not arrive they cannot do anything. If they get sick, they cannot get specialized treatment because their symptoms go unnoticed in a crowd. So many of them are euthanized -- many because they could not find families to adopt them.

The abandoned pedigreed ones are the worst. They cannot be left on the road as they have no means to fend for themselves. They have seen love and now their hearts ache to belong to someone. They are as frightened and confused as a child would be – one day in a loving home, and the next day in an orphanage. First they wag their tails at any human who passes by, hoping to be loved and taken away. Then, after a few weeks they get despondent and give up hope. They refuse to eat, fall ill quickly and within a few months they are dead.

So choose a rescued dog. Here are some reasons why:

1. Pet stores often source their dogs from puppy mills. Puppy mills are breeders who are simply growing dogs to make money. They have no affinity to the animals and keep them at near starvation level so that they have to spend no money. They do not give them vaccinations and certainly no medicine. Any puppy that does not sell is killed. The mothers are forced to breed through every heat cycle until their body physically cannot support it any more, & then they’re either killed or sold to a laboratory. These dogs are stuck in cages all the time and often have extremely serious illnesses. They often die young. The puppies suffer from major psychological problems and end up abandoned by the families that bought them.

2. An adult cat or dog is always a better option than getting a puppy or kitten! As adorable as little babies can be, they are a LOT of work! You have to housebreak them, clean up after them, go to the vet frequently, socialize them. While most shelters have hundreds of young animals available, if you want to get an animal who fits in without the bother of so much work then an adult is already trained and more than happy to be part of your family.

3. Having a pet is good for you. Pets combat so many problems, from old age illnesses like dementia to loneliness, depression even autism. People become less agitated & more interested in social interaction. Pets control blood pressure, make you exercise and reduce stress. Children get into a routine and become more disciplined.

4. No animal has been dumped in a shelter because he is bad. Their owners are the bad guys. They are going on transfer and don’t want to pay for the animal’s ticket. Their children have left and they don’t want to look after the animal. They have a new baby and don’t want the hassle of looking after both. Some can’t afford to feed them any more. Some animals that have been in shelters have been abused and have been rescued from bad families. But the dog is still perfect and is still hoping for a good home.

5. Adopting a shelter animal is a lesson in compassion. When you welcome an abandoned cat or dog into your family, you are leading by example. The only way to teach compassion is by showing it. If you have children, one of the best things you can teach them is how to take care of something which needs their love. The idea, of course, is that they take these lessons they’ve learned from having a pet and extend them to their future relationships.

6. All deeds of compassion are good for you. Scientists all over the world have found that children below six years old who get pets will have better social skills, better speech, better co-ordination, more confidence and will be less likely to suffer from allergies.

7. You are saving a life. Most shelters in India do not euthanize abandoned dogs. But some do because they do not have the resources to look after them forever. Which means that when you adopt an animal , you have literally saved a life. That brings brownie points with all the gods in every religion!

8. Knowing that you rescued an animal will amplify the joy of having it in your life even more. And the dog never forgets. They will love you more, try even harder to please you. Every day is a miracle for them and you are their miracle. No matter what happens, they adore you, are happy to see you every time you walk through the door and want to be with you as much as possible. They will protect you from intruders and keep you warm at night if you let them.

There is one waiting for you now in a shelter. Go get him or her and you will be rewarded beyond anything you could possibly imagine.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Middle Management Monkeys-are you the one?

My sister is a middle child and she says that part of her personality is shaped by being that. The eldest is the boss. The youngest is the cutest baby of the family. But middle children, especially if they are the same sex as the eldest, often feel left out and invisible, as if they are not unique at all and nothing belongs to them. Studies say that middle children are more flexible, better listeners and better talkers than their siblings but are far more prone to depression.

 

A manager in the middle rung of the government or company would probably be also stressed terribly. He is not senior enough to be followed implicitly. He has to maintain order and progress, yet he can be unseated whenever the bosses want. He has to toady to the people upstairs and rule the people downstairs and yet his salary is as insecure as the people he rules. He faces challenges both from above and below. No wonder most of the heart problems occur in the middle ranks.

 

Is this a unique human feature or does it exist in all animals. I am certain all colony creatures like ants, wasps and bees would have different management executives as well. Monkeys, who live in troops and certainly have all the features and probably as much intelligence as humans, would also have management levels.

 

A recent study, done by Liverpool’s Institute of Integrative Biology on Barbury macaques, showed that middle-ranking Barbury macaques experience the most stress of their troop. The team spent 600 hours monitoring a group of varying ranks. They were monitored on how long they spent eating or resting, and recording any threatening behaviour or chases and positive group behaviour such as grooming or close contact. This was combined with hormone readings taken from their faeces. Macaques, like humans, release specific hormones to cope with periods of high stress, including hydrocortisone (cortisol) from the adrenal gland to increase blood sugar and accelerate the fight or flight response.

 

Samples were collected throughout the day and analysed to take into account differences between morning and afternoon samples. The study also took into consideration personality type, availability of social support within the group, or previous experience. The findings showed that when individuals faced antagonistic behaviour such as threats, chases and slaps, their levels of cortisol were highest. Middle ranking monkeys recorded the highest levels of cortisol almost all the time.

 

In any group with a hierarchy, there are rules on who can have the best food and the best grooming partners. A middle monkey might want them, but if the high ranking monkeys want the same, then the middle ones have to give them up. This could be done passively – the lower rankers moving away from the source of food, or aggressively with threats.

And, similar to human beings, those in the middle were more likely to be challenged by those higher up, while simultaneously batting away advances from lower ranking individuals that would not dare attack those at the top of the hierarchy. The team found that unlike the small fry monkeys on the front lines—and , unlike those that reign supreme who distance themselves from any conflict, middle-managing monkeys are getting hit from both sides while being tasked with keeping the peace amongst everyone. Other macaque observers say that middle monkeys have a really hard time. “Middle-ranking individuals are under more stress because their interactions are less predictable. They're not exactly sure how others are going to respond to them and how they should respond to others." says National Geographic macaque observer Agustin Fuentes.

 

According to the 2012 annual Employee Outlook reportby The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Europe's largest professional institute for people management, 49 % of middle managers said they are under excessive pressure every day or once or twice a week – which was 12 percent more than the top or the bottom of the hierarchies. The report revealed they were generally less satisfied with their work-life balance, more concerned about job security and most likely to be looking for a new job. And this doesn’t apply only to civilians in a cubicle but also to middle rankers in the military.

 

How are the monkeys, stuck in middle management, taking out their frustrations?

A common stress reliever among macaques is taking care of infants. Both males and females spend time and groom younger members of the troop, whether their own infant or someone else's. That helps them calm down. This is similar to how humans pet their dogs or cats when they come home from a long and stressful day. Macaques scratch themselves more if they are stressed. So do people. (Watch out for an itchy boss before you confront him). A stressed-out macaque will seek an individual within their network for companionship. Female macaques, who tend to stay close to their relatives, will go to their mothers to be embraced. Those that are really annoyed at being where they are will use threats, slapping the ground and chasing opponents till they calm down. The report records “agonistic behaviour like threats, chases and slaps, submissive behaviour like displacing, screaming, grimacing and hind-quarter presentation.”

 

Can you see the same happening in your office?

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Nature's Gift-Plants

One of the most important side effects of global warming is more erratic rain and greater heat. This simply means more mosquitoes and new types of mosquito related diseases.

 

You know all the standard ways to repel mosquitoes. Today I am going to suggest some plants that keep mosquitoes away. You can plant them round the house or in pots near the doors and windows. Making window boxes outside each window is something that all builders of flats should do. Use the plants in containers around your verandah or outdoor living space. Some of these plants can be cut and used in flower arrangements in the house. It is the oils extracted from these plants which mosquitoes hate. Crush the leaves to release the fragrance and rub it on parts that usually get bitten

If you are in a municipality you can recommend these plants to be put in colonies, near water bodies or near garbage dumps.

 

1.The best plant to use is Cymbopogon or Lemongrass. You can even cook with it.

This is a tall perennial grass of about 55 varieties. Common names include lemon grass, barbed wire grass, silky heads, citronella grass, fever grass, cochin grass. In Malayalam: inchippullu,  Marathi: gavati chah.

Lemongrass is native to India. It has a subtle citrus flavour and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. It grows to about 6.5 feet. You can use the oil as an insect repellent as well in sprays and candles. Brush the planted Lemon Grass to release more of its fragrance.

 

2. Ageratum conyzoides or A. houstonianum is originally from outside India but has become an invasive and common plant here. It is an annual plant which belongs to the sunflower family. It thrives in any garden and agricultural soils and is very common in disturbed sites and degraded areas. It is found in all habitats, specially near ricefields or where it is damp.

Its common name is Goat weed, Billy goat weed, Tropical whiteweed. In Hindi it is known as jangli pudina, visadodi, semandulu, gha buti, bhakumbar • Manipuri: khongjai napi • Marathi: ghanera osaadi • Kannada: oorala gida, helukasa • Tamil: pumppillu, appakkoti • Malayalam: kattappa, muriyan pacca • Bengali: uchunti • Sanskrit: visamustih.

It is an erect softly hairy annual plant which grows up to a height of 2.5 feet. Its hairy leaves are coarsely egg shaped and have a toothed margin. The small threadlike flowers range from white, purple, pink to blue, and form dense domed clusters. It flowers most of the year. It grows in full sun to partial shade.

You must be very careful about growing this plant and not allow it to spread at random as it takes over areas and does not allow other plants to grow. Ageratum is not just a repellent; it can render most insects sterile if ingested in large enough quantities.

 

3. To reduce numerous other flying insects, including mosquitoes, plant marigolds in containers or in the ground in full sunlight. Marigolds are known commonly as gainda and have many varieties ranging from light yellow to deep orange. It is used for medicines, garlands, salads, dyes. You can even dry it and burn it to repel insects and flies. If you choose marigolds for your garden they must be scented.

 

4. Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a herb from the Tulasi family. Hindi : babuyi tulsi, bawari bawaiMalayalam: ramatulasi. It can grow to 2 feet and can be planted in full sun to partial shade. A number of varieties exist today, ranging from a tiny-leafed Greek basil to robust 2-feet-high plants with large succulent leaves. Some varieties have deep purple leaves. While flowers are usually small and whitish, some can be pink to brilliant magenta. Leaves can be dried for later use. Lots of people keep pots of basil on their tables to keep mosquitoes away. You can rub it on your skin as well.

 

5. Catmint or catnip is a plant of the mint, Nepeta, family found all over the world. Catnip is a gray-green aromatic perennial that grows to 3 feet, with fuzzy leaves, and twin-lipped flowers. The oblong pointed leaves have scalloped edges and gray or whitish hairs on the lower side. Nepeta cataria (Urdu: badranj boya) is a hairy aromatic perennial herb with whorls of small white purple-spotted flowers that grow in spikes. It is s an effective mosquito repellent both by growing the plant and applying its oil. Nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip, repels mosquitoes 10 times more effectively than DEET, the active ingredient in most insect repellents.

 

6. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is an evergreen perennial plant that grows upto 1.5 feet. It requires full sun to partial shade. It has silvery green, long, narrow leaves and stems and tall, colourful, violet-purple flowers growing in whorls. The oil glands that appear among the flowers are responsible for the plant's scent. If you are using lavender for its oils, cut it before the flowers open fully and dry them by hanging bundles upside down in a cool, dark location. Plant lavender in garden beds and in pots, to repel mosquitoes naturally. Cluster pots of lavender around seating areas to keep the mosquitoes away. Lavender is skin safe and can be used topically. Disperse lavender essential oil in water and spray it on your skin for a refreshing and mosquito-repelling spray.

 

7. There are lots of different varieties of geraniums in India and the rose scented one is even exported for its oil. The Lemon scented geranium (Pelargonium crispum) is not common but it is very useful against mosquitoes. It is a perennial which grows in full sun to partial shade. It is a nectar plant for butterflies and can be used for potpourris, and sachets. It is lemon-scented, with pale pink flowers and small wavy crinkled leaves. Originally from Africa, geraniums were believed by many that they helped to keep away evil spirits (which included mosquitoes!)

The chief constituent of the oil are geraniol and citronellol.

 

Go to a nursery and ask for these plants. All of them are sweet smelling and will help keep away the biggest nuisance of the summer and monsoon. I will give you the second list in another article.

Maneka Gandhi

 

(Pictures of some plants are attached)

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Animal Cruelty and Ignorence

Two months ago I held a meeting with the Ministry of Animal Husbandry officials. I went to ask them to change their policy on things that were killing India : the growing of emus and rabbits, the hundred percent subsidy on slaughterhouses, the bad slaughter practices. They heard me out in silence – and the next day Sharad Pawar told me that none of these things would be changed because he was personally in favour of them.

 

One of the things I asked for was for a policy decision to be taken on the terrible physical mutilations done to cattle – dehorning , castration and nose-roping. The Commissioner for Animal Husbandry, a horrible, foolish man who epitomises the illiterate and pompous bureaucrat that has ruined India felt he had to add to the discussion. So he butted in “I am a vet and I believe that animals do not feel any pain when these things happen to them, because they are not capable of feeling pain. So we cannot change these procedures.” I asked him “Do you think that a living being whose testicles are being crushed without anaesthesia does not feel pain?” He answered “Pain is relative, madam.” At this point, I really wanted to apply that procedure on him. How unlucky animals are that these kind of people, who fail at ten exams, then take up veterinary science and then pay their way into government jobs , are the people who are put in charge of their lives. No wonder there is so much cruelty.

 

This is the problem:

 

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 certain procedures which are commonly done on cattle are exempt from being technically known as cruel. These include: “the dehorning and disbudding of cattle or the castration or branding or nose-roping of any animal in the prescribed manner”. They can be done by anybody to these poor beasts and still not be considered cruel.

 

Dehorning is the removal of cattle’s horns and Disbudding means destroying the cells which produce horns. These procedures are performed not to make the animals more comfortable but to make them defenceless when they are mishandled, beaten, pushed into trucks for slaughter etc. It is also done because when animals are squeezed together into small spaces, they do not hurt each other so that the owner earns more from their sale.

Both dehorning and disbudding are extremely painful.

 

Disbudding methods include searing the horn buds using a hot iron, which is extremely painful and can damage underlying bone; applying or injecting caustic materials or cutting the bud using knives, shears or dehorning spoons. Dehorning methods include surgically removing the horns or physically cutting them off using wires, guillotine shears, dehorning knives, saws or spoons. No anaesthesia is used – not even by a vet. Compounders, village quacks, animal husbandry officials – anyone can do it.

The cattle are in extreme pain during and after the procedure which causes tissue damage to the most sensitive part of the body, the head. Blood tests show all the pain indicators: increased plasma cortisol concentrations, increased adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations. The poor mute animal physically shows all the pain response that he can : tail wagging, head movement, tripping and rearing during dehorning and head rubbing, head shaking, neck extension, ear flicking, tail flicking, restlessness, lying and getting up frequently, lack of appetite. Because of the inept way it is done, diseases such as tetanus, bovine cutaneous papillomas and bovine leukosis virus infection are a common result.

 

All we are asking for is that there should be anaesthesia before, and painkillers and human handling. This is a major operation. If you cut off my ears and then sear the nerves and bone with common iron applied to the side of my head, would I not go mad with pain ? Why should this be any less?

 

Castration is another common procedure on male cattle. It is done to prevent unwanted breeding and reduce aggressive behaviour so that the animal becomes docile even when he is overloaded, beaten, mishandled, starved and eventually crowded into trucks for slaughter. The Bail or castrated bull is the backbone of the agricultural economy. This is how it is done in India:

In most deep rural areas, you truss the animal after forcing him on his side. Then you crush his testicles using a heavy stone. The “approved” method is not much better: Apply a rubber ring to the neck of the scrotum above the testicles and use a clamp (called testicle crusher) to crush the animal’s spermatic cord. The chemical method involves injecting toxic agents (eg, lactic acid) into the testicular parenchyma, and the hormonal method requires injecting immuno-contraceptives into the animal to induce antibody production against gonadotropin-releasing hormone, resulting in decreased production of hormones such as testosterone.

All types of physical and chemical methods of castration cause animals to endure tremendous stress and pain. The testes and scrotum are heavily supplied with nerves, and any damage to them causes immediate and prolonged pain for several weeks. Following the procedure, cattle’s blood cortisol concentrations have been found to increase and it takes a long time for them to return to normal.

The intense pain that animals experience during and after castration causes many cattle

to exhibit acute pain responses, including struggling, kicking with the hind legs, tail swishing, foot stamping, head turning, restlessness, a stilted gait, reduced activity, increased recumbency, abnormal standing posture, glazed expressions and reduced feed intake.

Analgesics, sedatives and anaesthetics can reduce or eliminate fear and pain during castration..

 

Immuno-castration is a much better alternative: injections given every six months, which reduce a bullock’s testosterone production – is a humane alternative to conventional castration.

 

Cattle in India are commonly subjected to painful hot-iron branding and freeze branding to signify ownership. Both are extremely painful and lead to moaning out loud by the animal, an increase in the heart and respiratory rates. Kicking, tail flicking and trying to escape are other reliable indicators of their pain. This branding should be strictly banned unless accompanied by local anaesthesia, pain killers and done by an experienced vet. It would be much better to outlaw the process and replace it with ear tattooing or microchipping.

 

Nose roping involves piercing an animal’s nasal septum in front of the cartilage using an iron rod, passing a rope through the hole and permanently fastening the rope behind the animal’s head below the base of the horns. Pulling or twisting the rope exerts pressure on the extremely sensitive septum, causing the animal pain and making it easier for handlers to force him or her to move in the desired direction.

In addition to the initial pain of piercing, nose ropes cause cattle chronic pain and injuries. Once in place, the nose ropes are pulled, yanked and jerked, causing immeasurable pain and suffering. According to a recent study, moderate to severe injuries in the nostrils were noted in 62% of cattle. 3% lesions bled continuously and 44 % had pus discharge.

 

A halter (called a morkee) is a simple, effective, inexpensive and humane alternative to nose ropes. This could be official policy and people taught how to use properly fitting gear and instructed to control bullocks through the use of positive training methods, including treats such as sweet grass, calmly talking to and gently stroking the animal.

 

Castrations must be performed by a registered veterinary practitioner. Anaesthesia should be mandatory for any invasive husbandry procedures in cattle. Why should we be so mean to those animals that help us in every way to survive? India will not be viable if we remove her cattle. But how viciously we treat them. Animal husbandry practices should be refined and state animal husbandry departments should define a standard operating procedure. And take extremely strict action against those who violate them. Each rural hospital should have inventories of drugs, instruments and equipment for humane procedures. The Veterinary Council of India should issue directives to veterinary colleges and universities to amend their veterinary curricula to teach students to administer sedatives, analgesics and anaesthetics during field procedures. The old procedures must be banned in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Magic in Plants

In a previous article I told you about some plants that keep away mosquitoes. Here are some more. None of these are difficult to get : try your local nursery.

The European Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) is a member of the mint family.

It is a low, spreading perennial herb, native to Europe and western Asia. Reaching a height of 0.3 meters, the plant has ovate to nearly round leaves with hairy undersides and lilac flowers in dense whorls. Crushed Pennyroyal leaves have a very strong fragrance similar to spearmint. It is used as a mosquito repellent in the environment and a flea repellent on the body. It is cultivated in parts of India for its essential oil.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial mint family shrub that can reach 1.5 metersin height. It is a drought tolerant plant with pleasantly fragrant needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers. Like many of the plants used as repellents, it can also be used in food and medicine.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is also a member of the Mint family. A perennial, it grows to 0.6 meterhigh. Its leaves are joint toothed pairs, broadly ovate or heart-shaped, which emit a fragrant lemon odour when bruised and can also be used in salads. They are rubbed on the skin as a repellent, though the essential oil would be more effective here. It repels flies and ants as well. It has small white flowers full of nectar . Lemon balm grows in clumps The stems of the plant die off at the start of the winter, but shoot up again in spring.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita), pudina,  is a perennial plant growing to 0.3–1 metertall, with smooth stems. The leaves are from 1.6–3.5 cm long, dark green with reddish veins, and coarsely toothed margins. The leaves and stems are usually slightly hairy. The flowers are purple; they are produced in whorls around the stem, forming thick, blunt spikes.

Morpankhi (Thuja orientalis) is a bush common all over India. It is also known as mayurpankhi • Manipuri: Lairikheibi * Sanskrit: kshirakakol * Bengali: bilatijhau.
Belonging to the cypress family, it is a densely branched evergreen conifer that can become 16
meterstall but is usually grown as a smaller, bushier shrub. The overall shape is conical. The bark is rusty-brown and fibrous. The numerous slender ascending branches are spread out in flat, vertical planes. The leaves are like little scales overlapping and tightly packed. The odd shaped cones are 15-25 mm long, green ripening brown in about 8 months, and have 6-12 thick scales arranged in opposite pairs. Its oils are mosquito repellents. Many villagers squash and rub the seeds on their skin to keep away mosquitoes.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is a perennial, herbaceousflowering plantof the asterfamily, native to Asia. It is also known as Common Tansy, Bitter Buttons, Cow Bitter, Mugwort, or Golden Buttons. It has finely divided compound fernlike leaves and yellow, flat topped button-like yellow flowers. It has a stout, somewhat reddish, erect stem, usually smooth, 50–150 cm tall, and branching near the top. Bunches of tansy were traditionally placed at windows to keep out flies.

Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is a perennial grass native to India. In western and northern India, it is popularly known as khus. Vetiver can grow up to 1.5 metres high and form clumps. The stems are tall and the leaves are long, thin, and rather rigid; the flowers are brownish-purple. Unlike most grasses, which form horizontally spreading, mat-like root systems, vetiver's roots grow downward, 2–4 metersin depth. Vetiver grass grows in bunches. The vetiver plant is highly drought-tolerant and, if made into a hedge barrier, can keep away mosquitoes and other pests.

Sagebrush, Wormwood, Mugwort are all members of the Artemisia family of plants. All of these species can be used as an aromatic smudge that is known to be a very effective mosquito repellent. The crushed leaves can also be applied directly to the skin. These species grow in drier habitats.
Mosquitoes are repelled by a type of lemony scent. The most effective is citronella grass. In Africa they use the Citronella mucrunata a tree /hedge which has proven most effective in repelling mosquitoes. This serves two purposes;  first by exuding the scent which repels mosquitoes, and by providing a habitat and food for birds that eat mosquitoes. The citronella compound has also been bred into the “lemon geranium” which exudes the same scent, and is being used to repel mosquitoes. Lemon geraniums, which I wrote about last time, can be planted under or around windows, or can flank the sides of doorways to repel mosquitoes while providing beautiful flowers and a pleasant lemon scent.

Mosquito repellents should be adopted by housing societies. Vetiver and Citronella are grasses that can be planted round the periphery of the complex. The clove tree Syzygium aromaticum could be planted, but until it grows, use clove oil as an insect repellent by diluting it with distilled water, and using 1 part clove oil to 10 parts of the diluting solution, pour into a plastic spray bottle. Apply the solution to outdoor areas such as broad-leafed plants, planters and fences, forming a perimeter around your outdoor activity area. You may need to reapply the solution every 1 to 2 hours for maximum protection, so use it before a party or a sit out.

Citrus trees of any kind – lemon, lime, pomelo, grapefruit, for instance - grow easily and are definite mosquito repellents. So are tomatoes that could grow on pots on windowsills.  Eucalyptus trees are definitely mosquito repellents but I hesitate to recommend them because they drink so much water.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

(Pictures of some plants are attached)

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Dogs are like humans

Is a dog sensitive to your emotions? Or is it just a coincidence that he seeks you out when you are emotionally distressed? Plenty of pet owners are comforted by a pair of puppy-dog eyes or a lick of the tongue when their dog catches them crying. Now, research suggests that dogs really do respond uniquely to tears.

Dr. Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer of the Department of Psychology at the University of London Goldsmiths College, developed a procedure in 2012 to examine if domestic dogs could identify and respond to emotional states in humans. In their finding, published in the journal Animal Cognition, eighteen pet dogs of different ages and breeds were exposed to four separate 20-second scenes in which either the dog's owner or an unfamiliar person pretended to cry, hummed in an odd manner, or carried out a casual conversation.

 

The dogs responded in a way that made it quite clear that they knew the difference and they knew which human was in trouble. Significantly, more dogs looked at, approached and touched the crying humans. They nuzzled and licked the person, the canine version of "there there." Some went to the odd-humming ones. No dogs responded to the talking ones. The dogs approached the crying person in a submissive manner consistent with empathic concern and comfort-offering.

 

The humming was added because it was new to the dogs and the researchers wanted to gauge whether the dogs were motivated by curiosity at the noise or whether they understood human distress. The experiments proved “the crying carried greater emotional meaning for the dogs and provoked a stronger overall response than either humming or talking."
The study also found that the dogs responded to the person who was crying regardless of whether it was their owner or a stranger: Initially it was thought that dogs would respond only to their owners. According to the researchers “No such preference was found. The dogs approached whoever was crying, regardless of their identity. Thus they were responding to the person's emotion, not their own needs, which is suggestive of comfort-offering behaviour without discriminating among familiar and unfamiliar people.”

 

In another study, researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand, put 90 dogs through their paces - showing some recorded images of babies laughing, crying and babbling. Professor Ted Ruffman said the dogs’ responses indicated that they could understand, they could tell the difference between a happy and an angry person, and a laugh from a cry. He said dogs who saw the crying baby searched behind the television screen to "find" the baby, cocked their head and expressed concern.

 

That dogs can understand us is something that every dog owner knows. They have been bred over centuries to be companions in every way to humans. Are they sensitive to our moods? Look at the phenomenon of yawning: if a human yawns, so does a dog.

 

Almost every dog owner has found out that when they are really sad, their dog acts differently toward them. A dog may approach its disturbed owner with a concerned look and, quite out of character, hunker down next to them as if to provide some emotional support. It is as if they are saying, “I know there's something wrong, I don't know what it is but I'm here for you, anyway.”

 

Many dogs slink away and hide or sulk when their human "parents" argue. A major fight between adults really seems to take its toll on some dogs. It appears from the dog's behaviour that he understands discord and does not want to be around it. Of course, it can be argued that raised voices might drive the dog away, but there are dogs that fret even when their owners purposely keep their voices low. It's almost as if you can't hide anything from a dog.

 

If an owner comes home and finds the home trashed by their dog, the guilty party will often be found hiding, perhaps with a hangdog look. Owners believe their dog is feeling guilty about what he has done. If you accept the guilt explanation, you must also accept that the dog is able to understand your feelings of disappointment or anger.

 

In another study done on 84 dogs and published in Animal Cognition in February 2013. Dr Juliane Kaminski, of the University of Portsmouth's Department of Psychology, has shown that when a human forbids a dog from taking food, dogs are four times more likely to disobey in a dark room than a lit room, suggesting they take into account what the human can or cannot see. The study shows dogs understand the human can't see them, meaning they understand the human perspective and realize that it is safer to steal food in the dark.

 

Can dogs read emotion on human faces? When humans look at a new face their eyes tend to wander left, falling on the right hand side of the person's face first. This "left gaze bias" only occurs when we encounter faces, and does not apply any other time, such as when inspecting animals or inanimate objects. A possible reason for the tendency is that the right side of the human face is better at expressing emotional states. Researchers at the University of Lincoln have now shown that pet dogs also exhibit "left gaze bias", but only when looking at human faces.

 

The more tests that take place, the more we realize that dogs are like humans. It seems odd that so many people want to be mean to them.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Cancer in Animals

Since dogs and cats are now domesticated enough to qualify as semi humans, it is natural that the leading form of death in humans, cancer (Neoplasia), should become the leading cause of death in them as well.The medical science that studies cancer in animals is called veterinary oncology.

 

These are the signs you should watch out for:

 

1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow. While cancer is often an asymmetrical disease, lymphoma is a cancer that often occurs on both sides of the body. Therefore, even symmetrical swellings should not be ignored.

 

2. Sores that do not heal.

 

3. Weight loss.

 

4. Loss of appetite, or increased/decreased water intake.

 

5. Blood, pus, vomiting, diarrhoea or any other abnormal substance being discharged from any part of your pet’s body should be checked out. If your dog or cat’s abdomen becomes bloated or distended it could be a sign of an accumulation of abnormal discharge within the body.

 

6. Offensive odours from your dog or cat’s mouth, ears, or any other part of your pet’s body, should be checked out. Oftentimes cancers of the mouth, nose, or anal regions can cause such foul odours.

 

7. Difficulty eating or swallowing. Dogs and cats do not stop eating without a cause. While a lack of appetite does not automatically indicate cancer, it is still something to be taken seriously. Oral tumours can also cause difficulty or pain when eating.

 

8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina.

 

9. Persistent lameness or stiffness. Limping or other evidence of pain while the pet is walking, running, or jumping is mostly associated with arthritic issues or joint or muscle diseases, but it can also be a sign of cancer of the bone.

 

10. Abnormal urination (including increased urine), breathing, defecation .Changes in your pet’s urinary or bowel habits – difficulty in passing, increased frequency, blood in urine or stool.

 

Examine your pet thoroughly every month, including obtaining a body weight if possible. If your pet will allow you to safely examine their mouth, this should be done as well. The mouth is a common site of malignant cancers that go undetected until they are very advanced.

 

These are the common forms of cancer:

 

1. Skin tumours are very common in older dogs, but much less common in cats. While skin tumours in cats are frequently malignant, in dogs they are often benign. Fine needle aspiration cytology is a simple, non-invasive technique that may be used to differentiate between benign versus malignant skin tumours. Relying on physical examination of skin tumours alone is an imprecise method and unfortunately can allow malignant masses to go undetected.

 

2. Mammary Glands- 50% of all breast tumours in dogs and 85% of all breast tumours in cats are malignant. Spaying your female pet before her first heat cycle will greatly reduce the risk of mammary gland cancer. The risk of malignant mammary tumours in dogs spayed prior to their first heat is 0.05%. It is 8% for dog spayed after one heat, and 26% in dogs spayed after their second heat. Mammary tumours are observed as a solid mass or as multiple swellings. When tumours first appear they will feel like small pieces of pea gravel just under the skin. They are very hard and are difficult to move around under the skin. They can grow rapidly in a short period of time, doubling their size every month or so.

 

3. Neoplasia of the mouth and nose; signs to watch for are a mass or tumour in the oral cavity, bleeding, excess salivation, odour, facial swelling or deformity, or difficulty eating.

 

4. Lymphoma is a common type of neoplasia in dogs and cats. It is characterized by enlargement of one or many lymph nodes in the body. Between 15% and 20% of malignant tumours in dogs are lymphomas in the lymph nodes. spleen, liver, and other organs. Golden retrievers, boxers, bullmastiffs, basset hounds, Saint Bernards, Scottish terriers, Airedales, and bulldogs appear to be at increased risk of developing lymphomas. In cats, there appears to be a strong link between lymphoma and infection with feline leukaemia virus,

Tumours that develop in the lymph nodes often present as swellings with no other symptoms. When the lymphoma is present in the gastrointestinal tract, vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, and lack of appetite are commonly seen. The chest form often shows shortness of breath and muffled heart sounds. The skin form can present in several different ways including single or multiple lumps in the skin, or mouth. These bumps can itch or be red and ulcerated. Lymphoma can also occur in the heart, eyes, central nervous system or bone.

 

5. Hemangiosarcoma in dogs is a malignant cancer that arises from the blood vessels and occurs more commonly in older dogs. Breeds that seem to be at a greater risk for hemangiosarcoma include German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Boxers. These appear on the skin as red or black raised growths or as lumps under the skin, with the overlying skin appearing normal. These spread fast. Spleen hemangiosarcoma symptoms include weakness or collapse and pale mucous membranes. Dogs will have symptoms of chronic blood loss, which include pale gums, irregular heart rate, and generalized weakness. Heart afflicted signs may include difficulty breathing, fainting, weakness, or sudden death. The heart will appear enlarged and round.

 

6. Tumo

How Pure Is Your MILK?

Hello parents! I am going to take an apple and dry it. Then I mash it into “appley” powder. After a few months I add water and chemicals to it, shape it and sell it to you as a fresh pure apple. Will you buy it for your children to eat?

 

No? Why not? You do it everyday with milk.

 

The government brings out yearly statistics on fake milk, and even when their own studies done by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) show that more than 75% is not milk at all but urea, water, caustic soda, paint, sugar, detergent Hydrogen Peroxide, starch, glucose, salt, Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP) and vegetable fat, they still will take no action on the producers.

 

Let us presume that you buy government milk packets thinking that the government could not be cheating its own people. But when the government allows corruption in every field, why not milk? Today a major part of the milk in the packets is not the primary product of a cow or buffalo but reconstituted from powder.

 

Here is a report done by Harish Damodaran, an award winning journalist who has specialized in agri-business and commodities coverage: “ Nowhere is this more apparent than in the national Capital itself, where the market leader, Mother Dairy India Ltd, consumes an estimated 20,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder (SMP) annually or 55 tonnes daily. That translates into six lakh litres per day (LLPD) of milk or roughly 30 per cent of the 20-22 LLPD that Mother Dairy sells on an average in Delhi. The proportion of reconstituted milk to the total throughout rises to 50 % during summer months.”

 

According to the milk producers, real milk is put aside in the winter months and turned into powder which is then mixed back into the milk whenever real milk runs short – which seems to be everyday.

 

The Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) and owner of Mother Dairy says that it supplies ‘pure’ milk in the whole of Gujarat, Mumbai, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh (this is disproved for Delhi by the quantity of milk powder being bought). But in areas like West Bengal where all the cows have been killed or sent to Bangladesh (as in Kerala or the Northeast), there is no fresh milk available. There is a limit to the milk that can be sent by rail from Gujarat to Kolkata (and this milk will have chemicals like urea added to it so that it does not curdle on the way) so a large proportion of the so called pure milk has to be reconstituted milk.

 

Even in the states where there is milk, milk powder is added by private cooperatives and dairies. Why is this done? The Prevention of Food Adulteration rules stipulate a minimum 8.5 % Solids-Not-Fat (SNF) content for toned milk and 9 per cent in double-toned milk. If a dairy adds water then, to bring up the milk to the regulation standard, skimmed milk powder is added.

 

According to the government, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana have crores of milk producing cattle and are the top milk producers of the country. So why is most of the milk here either completely fake or made of milk powder? Could it be that the government is simply faking cattle figures? There is no real milk, because there are no cows or buffaloes. They have all disappeared into illegal meat and leather slaughterhouses.

 

Why is milk not being labelled as “reconstituted”. Why is it still allowed to be called pure? In every other country including China, all dairy companies that are marketing reconstituted milk have to put this on their label. If this were done in India, there would be a sharp fall in the sale, and milk consumers would then demand fresh milk themselves. This would impact the illegal meat export that the government encourages. Therefore. the Ministry for Consumer Affairs will not do so.

 

Just to remind you: The National Survey on Milk Adulteration 2011 was conducted to check contaminants in milk throughout India. Most states failed the tests. Five states were found to be 100 % non-conforming to the milk standards set by the FSSAI. 14 % of the samples had detergent in them – in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. 70% of Delhi milk samples failed the FSSAI standards.

 

46% milk was found diluted with water. Of 1791 samples, skimmed milk powder was present in nearly 548 samples and 477 samples contained glucose.

 

The report appeared on January 10th 2013. The FSSAI were summoned and told to repair the damage they had done by releasing these shocking truths. So they are now busy issuing “clarifications.”

 

First they issued a press release stating that “non conforming” did not mean that it was “unsafe for consumption”. The milk may be of “sub standard” quality but “not necessarily” unsafe. In short: The milk may be rubbish but not everyone dies from drinking it so it can continue to be sold. The FSSAI officials have clarified that adding water to milk is only bad if “the water which has possibly been added is contaminated.” So, it is not bad to cheat the customer by adding water to an expensive product which is sold by weight – it is OK if the adulterant is clean.

 

Regarding reconstituted milk made from skimmed milk powder, instead of banning the practice, the FSSAI has said that a circular will be issued to big dairy houses to brand the milk right. The circular has not been issued till today.

 

Regarding the presence of formalin or formaldehyde, (a chemical used for preserving dead bodies and to increase the shelf life of milk when it is being transported), it is illegal in food and is a carcinogen. The FSSAI says "That is allowed for preservation. Maybe where we detected it they must have put it in larger quantities."

 

Regarding the detergents found in milk, the FSSAI says that this is because the handlers of milk have not washed out the detergents, used to clean hands and vessels. before handling the milk! It is a known fact that detergent is used to make synthetic milk to increase the thickness and viscosity of the milk. A study done by the Indian Council of Medical Research states that detergents in milk cause food poisoning and gastrointestinal complications.

 

Now the FSSAI says it can’t do anything about making milk pure- it has to be done by the states. The states refuse to take any action saying that they have not seen the report (which was published on the front page of every paper across India). Bihar‘s milk was found to be 100% contaminated but the state Food Safety Authority maintains that "We have no idea where they collected the samples from. Once the report is shared with us, we will collect the samples, test it in our labs and then take appropriate action on whether the license has to be revoked or not.” This is six months after the report. (In any case the department has only 23 officers to man the food quality of the entire state.)

 

The Delhi Food Safety Authority has the same reaction. They agree that “The samples were found to contain skimmed milk powder. But this is not hazardous to health, its just reconstituted milk." Delhi has an estimated daily demand of 70 lakh liters of milk, about 90% is supplied by brands. Neutralisers like Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Hydroxide, Ammonia, Carbon Trioxide (carbonate) and other alkalis are used to correct and optimise the pH value of un-fresh milk so that they appear to be fresh milk. Obviously they would be a necessary component in reconstituted milk, which is what 50% of Delhi’s milk is in summer.

 

The FSSAI refuses to send their report officially to any state or even to the Indian Dairy Association! So the states have an excuse to ignore it. Even if they got them, most of the state testing laboratories are either defunct or ill equipped.

 

This belief that we are the world’s number one milk producer is misplaced. We are the number one fake milk producer in the world. And the only way you can stop this and protect your children is by totally stopping the purchase of this dangerous product.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Even Sharks suffer, Imagine?

High up in the list of things I have to do before I die, is the stopping of shark finning.

 

What is this hideous trade? Sharks are a key species in the ocean. That means that they are responsible for the health of the waters and the fish. If you remove the sharks, all the other species will disappear.

 

China and the Chinese people, wherever they are, are the only people who make shark fin soup. Basically they boil the fins and throw them into clear soup. The fins have nothing in them that is of any value to the human body – it’s just something that the Chinese do. Just as every family wants an ivory seal - for which over 20,000 elephants have been killed in the last 3 years. The consumption of shark fins is seen as a symbol of wealth and social status and is served at celebrations. Shark fins are used in Chinese medicine as aphrodisiacs.While shark fin soup is very expensive (between US$10 and US$100 per bowl depending on the quality and amount of fin), the increase in the purchasing power of the Chinese has increased the demand.

 

And, as usual, India is raped.

 

How are the sharks killed? The boatman/fisherman/trawler go into the ocean and cast a net for sharks. The shark is held, the man cuts the fins off and then throws it back to thrash in the water till it dies of blood loss. Why does the shark finner do this? So that he does not have to use the space in the boat for the body and he can catch more sharks and carry more sharkfins. The fisherman cannot sell the meat of the shark – it is of very low quality because of the high levels of uric acid in the tissue.

An unbelievably cruel trade that destroys the ocean to make a useless product.

 

Is international opinion bringing this trade down in India? No. It is increasing rapidly every year. India is supplying 90% of the world’s shark fins.

Does the Indian government or economy make any money on this? No. Because most of the export is done in “Black”!!

 

To begin with, the entire catching is done in an unregulated manner. There are no laws of how many sharks can be killed and where the shark fins go. The fact that it is unregulated leads to enormous wastage. The body of the shark is wasted by the fisherman. For every fin sold, there are 6-7 that are thrown away. Thousands of sharks lose their lives daily. Today it is impossible to find many species and there are very few adults left.

 

International regulators have pointed out to the Indian Government that the official export data greatly understates actual shark fin exports. Two estimates of Indian shark fin exports, by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the other based on recorded Hong Kong imports from India, show that actual exports are many times greater than officially recorded amounts of approx 70,000 MT (metric tonnes).

 

Shark catching and finning is allowed on the grounds that it helps small fishermen. But small fishermen use catamarans and hand lines, and even motorized canoes use hook and line. Mechanized trawlers operating in Indian coastal waters account for 70% of all shark catches. No trawlers are owned by poor fishermen who are now down to 12% and decreasing. The trawlers are all owned by companies and very rich exporters, many of whom are not even Indian passport holders.

 

Andaman and Nicobar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are the four culprits. In fact, Gujarat’s trawlers catch more than half of India’s sharks. Most of the rest happens in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where no local market for shark meat exists.

Seventy species of sharks are found in Indian waters. Not a single fishing vessel keeps logs of their catch – and nor does the government ask for them. This is in sharp contrast to all the regulations and data asked from vessels in other countries.

 

The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute collects data with a random sampling method which leaves out finned sharks in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, and poaching by foreign fleets. The FAO which is supposed to keep a check on shark catching all over the world has expressed major dissatisfaction with Indian officials about the veracity of this data; both in the amount of catches and the species.

Hong Kong handles between fifty percent and eighty-five percent of the global shark fin imports. Singapore handles the remaining international trade.

 

Shark fins in the international market are exported in either as ‘wet’ (frozen) or ‘dry’ and divided into ‘white’ fins and ‘black’ fins with white fins worth more in the international market. The corporation in charge of shark fin exports is the Marine Product Export Development Agency (MPEDA) .

 

Does the fisherman actually make any money? The wholesale prices are about Rs.250-Rs.300 per kg. The retail prices go to 10 times that amount in the Hong Kong or Singapore markets, with foreign middlemen pocketing the profits from our oceans . Some fins sell for US$744 per kg.

 

Does India make any money? Shark fin exports have no paperwork. MPEDA makes no efforts to actually regulate or even audit the trade; most of the time they are lumped with other “seafood” and sent out. Couriers carry shark fins by air, often clandestinely exported in personal baggage to avoid import tariffs at ports like Singapore. MPEDA also does not record wet fin exports, only dry ones. These factors make it difficult to quantify the actual traded volume of shark fins for tax purposes.

MPEDA says that India exported an average of 66,000 to 76,000 MT of fins a year from 1989 – 2002. The FAO estimates that the actual export was much greater – twice to thrice the amount. MPEDA data is based on voluntary reporting by shark fin exporters and this is obviously extremely unreliable to avoid duty. However, even the FAO figures underestimate the actual export.

 

The real figures come from recorded Hong Kong imports of dry fins from India. Comparing recorded Hong Kong data to MPEDA exports reveals dramatic differences. In the year 2000, for example, Hong Kong recorded imports of 665 MT of dry raw fins from India, while MPEDA reported total dry fin exports of only 248 MT to ALL destinations across the world. Over 5 years, recorded Hong Kong imports are 5.18 TIMES higher than MPEDA exports! Such gross underreportingof actual exports is a scam in itself.

 

This means that millions of sharks are being caught every year.

 

In July 2001, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, concerned with the depletion of shark species and knowing the difficulty of selectively catching only non-threatened species, banned the catching and trade of all shark species. Predictably the industry mounted a protest and politicians felt it was better to have votes than sharks. It did not help that the Minister was from Tamil Nadu, the state that led the protest and which controls 90% of the sharkfin trade. The ban was lifted in December, 2001.

 

International observers have expressed concern that most of the shark’s waters have been overfished. The decreasing length of sharks caught attest to this. Sharks have low growth rates and it is easy to wipe out whole populations. This results in a large number of other fish species also disappearing.

 

The trawlers and traders and middlemen of sharkfins will go somewhere else, but if the sharks and fish get wiped out, as is likely to happen, what will happen to the small fishermen?

 

The first thing is to make it illegal for any fisherman / trawler to bring back only fins. If the entire shark is brought back then less will be caught automatically and the damage to the ocean in releasing wounded sharks will be reduced.

 

Close down those areas for fishing that are substantially overfished and put a moratorium of 5 years in order for the sharks to revive.

 

MPEDA must do a better job at collecting data or be disbanded. They even misreport the species: MPEDA says that S. zygaena is one of India’s most important shark exports. Biologists say that it is such a rare species that it couldn’t possibly be.

 

There has to be accurate reporting and the shark trade has to be regulated. No shark fin can be exported without strict controls, and if there is a discrepancy between the amount found in Hong Kong, Singapore and the amount declared shipped from here, the company is to be shut down and its owners arrested. The shark fin trade has to go through more formal channels.

 

Even the fishermen agree that the first step would be to ban the practice of finning sharks off the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Shark fishermen could be helped financially to shift to other professions.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Honey Honey Bee

Three years ago I wrote about bees vanishing from the world – a process that started in 2006. The idea of extinction being so close – the vanishing of bees means the end of the pollination of most plants – is so horrific, that most governments, like ours with its useless animal husbandry and agriculture ministry , have refused to even acknowledge this catastrophe.

 

Now, USA’s Department of Agriculture scientists have announced that pesticides, fungicides and malnutrition are the official causes. The USA lost 33% of its bee colonies just last year alone. “We’re getting closer and closer to the point where we don’t have enough bees in this country to meet pollination demands,” said entomologist Dennis vanEngelstorp of the University of Maryland, who led the survey documenting the declines. This means the nation’s food security is at severe risk.

 

The honeybee shortage came to a head in March this year in California, when there were barely enough bees to pollinate the almond crop. Who knows what will happen next year – but, in every likelihood, almonds might just disappear. Along with everything else. Every third food you consume has been directly or indirectly pollinated by bees.

 

The bees are dying in Europe as well. And in Asia. India has barely any left. Mangoes, apples, bananas, pomegranates, baingan, bhindi… say goodbye to all your fruit and vegetables. No, you will not be able to live on cereals and meat because grain is also pollinated by bees and to create one kilo of meat , the animal has to feed on 11 kilos of greens – which are pollinated by bees.

 

The main culprits are a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. These were developed in the 1990s, rushed to market by multinational companies, bought eagerly by third world politicians and bureaucrats with minimal and misleading studies of potential harm, and now have the world’s most-used pesticides. The pesticide, which was supposed to be used to increase the crops and alleviate hunger, is now destroying the world. And still governments will not ban them.

 

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides chemically related to nicotine. Developed in the 1980s by Shell and the 1990s by Bayer. Imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world – one quarter of all global insecticide sales-, applied to soil, seed, timber, cereals, cotton, grain, legumes, potatoes, rice, turf and vegetables. It is followed closely by Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam, invented in 2000. Currently, all corn in the USA is treated with one of these two insecticides, as is soyabean. Clothianidin is one of the most toxic substances known for honey bees.

 

Within 10 years the roof is caving in on the world. In July 2010, a Dutch toxicologist authored and published a book called "A Disaster in the Making" exploring the impact of neonicotinoids on the immune system of bees. In 2009 a documentary “Vanishing of the Bees” suggested neonicotinoid pesticides as the culprit. In 2012, several peer-reviewed independent studies were published showing that neonicotinoids were killing the bees. Their review concluded, "A high acute risk to honey bees was identified from exposure via dust drift for the seed treatment uses in maize, oilseed rape and cereals. A high acute risk was also identified from exposure via residues in nectar and/or pollen." A two-year study published in 2012 showed the presence of two neonicotinoid insecticides, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, in bees found dead in and around hives situated near agricultural fields. Other bees at the hives exhibited tremors, uncoordinated movement and convulsions, all signs of insecticide poisoning. The insecticides were also consistently found at low levels in soil — up to two years after treated seed was planted — on nearby wild flowers and in corn pollen gathered by the bees.

 

Researchers found 121 different pesticides in honeybee hives. On average, each hive contained between 6 - 36.

 

In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority stated that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety relied on may have been severely flawed. This is not the first time that multinationals have lied in order to get their products into the market – the tobacco industry has done it for years. The UK Parliament has asked manufacturer Bayer Cropscience to explain the discrepancies in the evidences they had submitted about the safety of these pesticides. In March 2013, the US government Environmental Protection Agency was sued by a coalition of beekeepers and sustainable agriculture lobbies who accused the agency of performing inadequate toxicity evaluations and allowing registration of the pesticides on insufficient industry studies. In March 2013, the American Bird Conservancy published a review of 200 studies on neonicotinoids including secret industry research obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act and called for a ban on neonicotinoidse because of their toxicity to birds, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife.

 

On April 29, 2013, the European Union passed a two-year ban on neonicotinoid insecticides, Temporary suspensions had previously been enacted in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland based on studies showing that bee losses were correlated with the application of seeds treated with these compounds; Italy also based its decision on the known acute toxicity of these compounds to pollinators.

 

The US EPA is now reviewing the safety of clothianidin, thiamethoxam and Imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids Acetamiprid, Dinotefuran, Nitenpyram, Thiacloprid. But the results will be out in 2017 or after – probably too late for the bees and us. Even if a ban were to come in, it takes 4 years for these pesticides to degrade. And if they have got into the ground water, then a ban is irrelevant.

 

Predictably, pesticide companies have fought the restrictions, arguing that neonicotinoids are unfairly blamed. Bayer says the criticisms lack solid evidence. “This report relies on theoretical calculations and exposure estimates that differ from accepted risk assessment methodologies, while disregarding relevant data that are at odds with its claims,” the company said in a statement.

 

We will have to rethink our policy on pesticides very quickly. The honeybee catastrophe is not a stand alone. Other pollinator species such as butterflies, birds and insects will disappear, long before their absence is noticed. The honeybees are simply the canary in the mine.

Researchers have found widespread evidence of neonicotinoids spreading beyond their crop targets. Seeds used to grow crops like corn, sunflowers and canola are routinely coated in neonicotinoids, which then spread through plants as they grow. Many species of birds eat seeds. As little as 15-200 milligrams per kilo of bodyweight or just a few seeds coated with imidacloprid can kill any birds.

 

Chronic toxicity doesn’t kill animals overnight, but over time causes health, reproductive and behavioural problems. Studies conducted on rats suggest that neonicotinoids may adversely affect the human developing brain.

 

Most entomologists and pest management professionals have been saying for years that there is no pest management justification for using these insecticides on virtually every crop. Yet, the Indian government continues to push these world killers onto the farmers. Wake up your Member of Parliament now, before it is too late.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Pets are a great stress buster

Are you alone? Why not get a dog. Not a puppy, who will make you run around and exhaust you with the cleaning up and exercise. Think of a senior dog, one who is over 7 years old. One who needs you as much as you need him/her. Someone who will be sad when you leave and thrilled when you get back, several times a day. A senior dog just wants to stay clean, warm and safe with its owners. They bond quickly and work hard to be part of the new family. You will have saved a life and got yourself such a good companion that your loneliness will go.

 

Go slow when the dog comes home. Do not insist on handling him/her all the time. The dog needs time to get to discover the house and its inmates without being pushed. Let the dog find its own favourite place to sit or sleep. After taking the new dog for a tour of the house, settle down for some rest after all the “excitement.” Sleep is good and the chances are your new family member is exhausted. If you adopted the dog from a shelter, remember that he is coming from an extremely stressful and noisy place and in the quiet and safety of your home he may sleep almost continuously for the first few days. Unless there’s an immediate need, save any stressful activities like bathing or visiting the vet until after these first days when the dog has rested and adjusted.

 

Provide a safe spot for your dog. Put a thick and soft mattress for him because old animals, like old people, need something soft to lie on in a quiet corner where he can feel safe. Your newly adopted senior dog may watch you like a hawk for the first few days. He is learning about you, so let him enjoy feeling safe while he learns the household sounds and routines. As he becomes more relaxed you’ll find he wants to join you during your activities, and may readily follow the lead of any other dogs in the household. The dog will take at least a week to adjust and he will seem dull during this time. Usually after this first week, the real dog starts to emerge. Stay as neutral as possible during this time, stick to routine, and don’t coddle him/her overmuch.

 

If you know what he ate before, continue with that while you slowly offer the food that you want him to eat. Going from a poor quality diet to a high quality diet can be very disruptive to the digestive system so mix the old and the new foods together for at least a week. Mixing in a little plain cooked rice for the first few days is helpful to keep the food bland and gentle to the digestive tract. If he refuses food, don’t panic. A day or two without eating won’t hurt and is a normal reaction to stress.

 

Older dogs need more protein. Paneer, soya, dahi. The more appropriate the food, the more you save on veterinary bills! Poor diets can result in a lack of coat quality, more frequent skin allergies, gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhoea and vomiting, and a loss of vitality. Obesity is another problem. Arthritis can be one of the first symptoms of a dog carrying excess pounds, with the joints becoming overstressed in supporting the extra weight. You may not want to see each rib but you should be able to feel them. So no table scraps, mithai, parathas, bread, omlettes, gravy, oil-rich meat. Very little fat intake, as this causes pancreatitis. Feed thrice a day but small meals. Try fresh vegetable snacks as treats if the dog will eat them: Sliced cucumber, carrots, apple slices are all healthy treats.

 

Plan for twice-a-year veterinary visits with a complete blood screening and urine analysis. A blood test is a fundamental tool which reveals problems long before you see any outward signs. An increased number of white blood cells could indicate the presence of a previously undetected infection. A low red blood cell count indicates anaemia which should be investigated with other tests. The urinalysis helps your veterinarian check for diabetes, abnormal amounts of protein in the urine, and infection in the urinary tract.

 

Dental care is really important in an older dog. Tartar build-up on teeth leads to inflamed and infected gums, or gingivitis. The bacteria from gingivitis affect all body systems. Many owners are afraid to put their old dog under anaesthesia for a dental procedure. Look for a clinic with modern machines and veterinary anaesthetics like propofol and sevoflurane to make the procedure safe and recovery fast.

Arthritis sets in by 5 or 6 years of age in giant breeds and later in small breeds. You might notice slowness in getting up, or stiffness and even limping for the first few steps in the morning or after a long nap. Have your dog checked by a veterinarian, especially if these symptoms appear suddenly. Your veterinarian can recommend joint supplements or prescribe daily pain medication to keep the dog comfortable.

 

Increased time spent sleeping is common with senior dogs. But he should still get regular exercise. It keeps muscles toned and minds clearer. Even a gentle walk every day will keep the muscles from atrophy, and the sights and smells will keep an old dog’s mind engaged in the world around him. Be sure to keep him on leash or within your sight if you take him to the park. Old dogs can easily become disoriented in unfamiliar areas.

 

Give your old dog a weekly massage. Not only will he/she love it, it will give you an opportunity to check for any abnormal lumps or tenderness. This is especially significant in dogs with longer coats, where abnormalities can be hidden in thick fur; gently rubbing and smoothing your fingertips over the fur, running your hands down the legs to the paws, and checking ears, neck, chest, and belly feels good and keeps you informed of anything out of the ordinary. As they age, some dogs are especially prone to developing lumps and warts which are usually benign.

Brush the coat. This will keep her skin healthy and stimulated. It will also reveal any problems with external parasites like fleas or ticks, or dry, flaky skin, which could mean the dog needs more dietary fat or a supplement of essential fatty acids.

 

Keep the nails trimmed as the dog is not going to walk enough to wear him down. Trimmed nails give the foot better contact with flooring. If you have smooth floors make the dog’s life easier with a rubber throw mat to make the walk easier. If you feed your dog on this kind of flooring, provide an easily washed bath mat for him/her to stand on so they can eat in relaxed comfort.

 

As dogs age it’s harder for them to “hold it” for long periods, and bathroom accidents may occur. This causes them physical and emotional distress as they try, and fail, to hold it. It’s essential to allow them increased opportunities to get outside. Aging dogs, specially females, may sometimes leak urine while they sleep. This can usually be remedied with a medication that helps with bladder control. .

 

Old dogs can learn new tricks, so find out which treat he likes best or what motivates him – attention, affection, toys, and go ahead and teach him what you want. Make the effort to keep your sweet old dog engaged in life, interacting with family members and the world around them, and cherish every fleeting moment in their too-short lives.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Sea Shells

On 18 August 2009, A businessman called Ganesh was arrested following a raid by a joint team of police and People For Animals for trading of rare conches. The police seized 10 bags of them.

On 28 August 2009 Seashells worth lakhs were seized during a raid conducted by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) , People For Animals and the Forest Department. These shells are brought from coastal areas and were being sold in Rishikesh and Nainital. Initially, the traders protested violently against the raid saying that they did not know these shells were illegal, but as their lies were exposed they have cleared their shelves.

On 25 September 2009 Conches were seized in a raid conducted in the Lahori Gate area of Delhi by a police team with the help of People For Animals, The conches were brought from the Andamans and were being smuggled.

On 22 November 2009, 400 conches were seized from the Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan by the Delhi Wildlife Department, People For Animals and the Delhi Police. Four people working at the Tamil Nadu and Orissa stalls were arrested in connection to the illegal trade from their states to Delhi. Among those seized were Bull Mouth and Horn Helmet, both listed under Schedule-I which also includes items like ivory and tiger skin. Others were Spider Conch, Limacina Cowrie, Top Shell and Tratizium Conch .

People for Animals has taken this matter seriously. On 28 November 2009 they and the police in Chandigarh seized conches and cowrie shells and two shopkeepers - Surinder Jain and Madan Singh – were arrested under sections 9, 39, 44, 50 and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act which entails imprisonment for three to seven years with a possible fine of Rs 35,000 being slapped on each.

You need to know the law so that you can inform us about any shops that are selling shells. With the help of Animal Welfare Board of India, People For Animals has made a booklet which you can get if you send me Rs.60. Alternatively you can access and download the details free at www.peopleforanimalsindia.org.

Do not buy conches and shells for your pooja table or as bangles /ornaments. These are living creatures that are essential for the health of the ocean. They are protected under law, and their possession can make you liable for punishment.

Shells are the skeletons of soft bodied animals called Molluscs. Unlike humans, the skeletons of molluscs grow around their bodies to protect them. Imagine if your bones grew outside your skin and organs, attached to them by muscles. Molluscs are filter feeders cleaning the ocean of all its small debris. They are partners in reef building. The small shells contain creatures who keep the beaches clean. When they die their skeletons are needed in the ocean as calcium and limestone.

Sea shells occur all along the coastline of the country, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshwadweep. As many as 5,042 species of molluscs are found in India.

The shells you see on the beaches are not the ones that are sold in the shops. Professional poachers go out into the ocean and net molluscs. The animals are gouged out by sharp knives or boiled alive. The shells are sold by these poachers to traders. These poor animals, so useful to the waters, are simply used as luxury cosmetic items by humans.

Shells such as Cowries are used as ornaments such as necklaces, bangles, earrings, saree clips, girdles, keychains, jewel boxes, pen holders and buttons. Nancowry and Nautilus shells are used to decorate table lamps, vases, ash trays, paper weights, bags, cushion covers and curtains. Chanks (shankh) are killed for sale to Hindus.

The main trading centres for shells are around the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay, the coastal towns of Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, Port Blair in Andamans, Puri in Orissa, Gulf of Kutch, Visakhapatnam and Kakinada Bayin Andhra Pradesh. Trade in shells flourishes in areas around pilgrimage centres. Tirespuram near Tuticorin, Keelakari, Rameswaram and Kanyakumari are some of the areas where trade in Indian sea shells occurs on a large scale. Whether it is in the form of small scale shop owners, platform sellers or large gift shops, trade in sea shells is rampant across India.

Kolkata is one of the main centres where shell products from bangles to ducks are made. The main outlet for most of the shell exports is Mumbai. Some of the Indian sea shells most widely exported illegally are: Chicoreus remosus, Turbinella pyrum, and Cassis sp.

Endangered species include : Turban Shell or Green Snail (Turbo marmoratus linnaeus), Indian Sacred chank (Turbinella pyrum fusus) , Giant clam shells (Tridacna maxima, Tridacna squamosa, Tridacna crocea) , Horse's Hoof Clam (Hippopus hippopus), Pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera), All species of Cowries, Scorpion sea shells.

As per the provisions of the India Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the definition of “wild life” is “any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat” and includes bees, butterflies, crustacean, fish and moths; and aquatic or land vegetation. These are 'Government Property' and are thus protected from being harmed or exploited. The Export & Import Policy prohibits the export of “All wild animals, animal articles including their products and derivatives…”. Only those for which ownership certificates have been granted for education, scientific research and management under Wild Life Act, are excluded.

The best way to block trade in shells is to block the buyers. Create awareness in your area, college or market. If you find shells on display in someone's house, treat it with the same seriousness as finding a tiger-skin. All shops must be warned and the police informed. Approach tourist shops, religious centres, hotels, to discourage them from buying or displaying shells. If you live near a beach area have the man who sells shells from a sheet spread on the sand, arrested. Look at sites on the Net and inform us which websites are selling them. Inform the website that this is illegal.

Report violations to the local forest officer or senior policeman. If you don’t trust them, send me the details at People for Animals, 14, Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110001 Phone: 011-23719293, 23357088, or to The Director, TRAFFIC, WWF-India , 172-B, Lodi Estate, New Delhi-110003,  Phone: 011- 24698578.

Start looking. It took us 3 years to more or less pack up the mongoose hairbrush trade by constant raids. Let us see how long we take to stop this trade.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Animal Based Experiments

Animal Studies Paint Misleading Picture

 

When I was young, every school had to cut up animals to learn biology. Years later, the education system realized that cutting animals harmed the child. So schools were ordered to stop it.

 

Zoology dissection has been stopped by order of the UGC. Even medical colleges have realized that cutting animals by undergraduate students makes no sense and are planning to stop it. Pharmacy and dental colleges have already stopped it. In a few years dissection will become a horrible memory.

 

Now come to the so called research for a great medical breakthrough. India just has one patent. But millions of animals have been killed by so called researchers. In fact, after all the killing and their monthly salary, few even write up the experiments on animals. The premier Medical Journal Lancet says that only 2% of research in India is written up and submitted for review.

 

Indian researchers are not the only fakers in the field.

 

Every few days I see some new headline in the paper about a new cure for cancer. When I read the article it says that some breakthrough has been made when testing animals. Months later the “breakthrough” has failed in clinical trials on humans and is abandoned. The researchers get their grants and after a few days another study will start. Lakhs of animals are dead but 90% of the researchers achieve nothing.

 

And they cannot. Animal testing leads nowhere. Can a test on a human be applicable to a rat? No. So why should medicines that work on rats be applicable to humans?

 

My scepticism is borne out by an amazing 2010 University of Edinburgh study which has found that published animal trials tend to overestimate the likelihood that a medical treatment will work by about 30% or more.

 

Researchers suggest that the main cause for this is because negative results during animal trials often go unpublished.

 

Based on analysis of 525 “breakthrough” studies on strokes including 1,359 experiments and 16 different treatments, researchers found that only about a third of these results were even reproducible in human trials. A major overstatement of efficiency has become par for the course.

 

Why are researchers telling lies?

 

Researchers suffer from “Publication Bias”. They know that negative or neutral results are not interesting enough to be published or talked about. However when positive results are obtained from an animal trial they will get published - in journals, review articles, textbooks, courses - leading to fame for the researcher amongst his peers and making his viewpoint the “truth”. But if data is not published because it is negative or differs substantially from published work, then the researcher has to find something else to do.

 

The Study reported that only 10 publications (2%) printed research that was negative. Only 6 had reports that did not make some significant new claim. 214 experiments apart from the 1359 which found negative findings in the same area were not printed at all.

 

Non-publication of data raises ethical concerns, first because the animals used have not contributed to the sum of human knowledge, and second because participants in clinical trials may be put at unnecessary risk if efficacy in animals has been overstated. But because the truth is hidden, animal testing continues in the life sciences and medical research. If researchers knew the truth – that a great deal of research fails because of the animal models used – then they would look for alternatives. We may even find the actual cures for diseases like cancer that we are pretending to treat now.

 

The impact of publication bias in basic research has not previously been quantified. The Edinburgh research has for the first time shown that publication bias is prevalent in reports of laboratory-based research in animal models to the extent that as many as one in seven experiments remain unpublished and reviews of the results of interventions in animals overstate their efficacy by around one third.

 

Misleading or one sided research data can go on compounding the problem, leading new researchers down the garden path as they attempt to build on already published data. Let me explain it simply:

 

Ten experiments take place that say colouring a rat’s ears can cure cancer. Nine say that it has no effect on the disease at all. None of these nine experiments are published. But the tenth which says that colouring the ears of a rat MAY have some effect on cancer will be published as a “breakthrough”. New researchers only see this one published article. So they get put in years trying to find out which other ear colours could cure cancer. If they had read the unpublished works they would have abandoned this line of research altogether instead of further unnecessary animal experiments testing poorly founded theories.

 

Some safeguards are built into the system of information dissemination by making a published article open to review. But it is a hit and miss method with “experts” using review articles to emphasise their own particular perspective and again without digging into the data that has NOT been published.

 

This is what the Edinburgh researchers say “ If experiments have been conducted but are not available to reviewers, as they are not the same as results from experiments that were published, then reviews, and the resulting expert opinion and public understanding, will be biased. This is the “file drawer problem”: at its most extreme, the 95% of studies that were neutral and reported no significant effects remain in the files of the investigators, while the 5% of experiments that were falsely positive are published, and reviewers conclude—falsely—that the literature represents biological truth.”

 

If publication bias did not exist, at least one-third of animal-based experiments would have shown different results. In fact the Study says “We think that the present study is more likely to underestimate than to overestimate the effect of publication bias.”

 

What are the reasons that researchers look for “positive hyped results, no matter what the truth is:

 

1. First, there is likely to be more enthusiasm amongst scientists, journal editors, and the funders of research for positive rather than for neutral studies.

 

2. The majority of animal based studies use only a few animals. Neutral studies therefore seldom have the statistical power confidently to exclude an effect that would be considered of biological significance, so they are less likely to be published than are similarly underpowered “positive” studies.

 

How many animals were killed in those 214 experiments that were never reported? 3,600.

 

What is the solution to this? A central register of experiments involving animals should be made so that anyone entering the field can access the number of experiments grouped along a broad subject. In England www.clinicaltrials.govlogs all clinical trials before they begin.

 

The value of animal experiments for predicting the effectiveness of treatment strategies in clinical trials has remained controversial.Animal experiments may contribute to our understanding of mechanisms of disease, but their value in predicting the effectiveness of treatment strategies is extremely limited. Less than 10% even translate into clinical trials on humans. I could give you a list of thousands of medicines that worked in animals and failed in humans.

 

The purpose of the Edinburgh study was to convince scientists and journals to publish rigorously conducted negative studies as well. If we publish all the times that experiments on animals have failed, we might get researchers to go to the track of serious science instead of wasting time.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Tail wagging

Dr Stanley Coren is a psychology professor and Director of the Human Neuropsychology and Perception Laboratory at the University of British Columbia. He is internationally known for his research on dogs.

 

His research on the tail wagging of a dog is fascinating. The smile of a human can be interpreted in so many ways – a broad grin could be pleasure but it could also be insincerity. Turned down at the corners it could be sadness or resignation, showing only the upper teeth could be pleading, it could be a grimace of pain. There are so many interpretations but the average human knows how to read each one.

 

Tail wagging is the dog’s form of communication. And it is as nuanced as a smile. Just as no one smiles in private because a smile is a social gesture, the tail wag is also only done in front of an audience - human, dog or any other species, even ant. A moving ball may seem alive enough sometimes to be responded to.

 

Tailwags are not just meaningless shakes of a limb. They have a vocabulary and grammar – like any language. There is a pattern of movement and position.

 

The height at which the tail is held is extremely important. Middle height means the dog is relaxed. If it is held up horizontally the dog is attentive and alert. If it continues to move up and becomes vertical, the dog is threatening and saying that you need to back off as he is the boss. But if it moves down the dog is becoming more submissive. In fact the lower the tail, the more it means that the dog is not feeling well, or is worried, or it is surrendering to you. Tucked between its legs it means total fear and surrender. (As someone who runs an animal hospital, another interpretation is, when it is tucked between the legs, the dog has an injury in its anal/vaginal area. )

 

Ofcourse there are dialects here, as there are in human language. Beagles carry their tails nearly vertically, naturally. Greyhounds carry their tails held very low. So the interpretation has to be done in respect of how the dog normally carries its tail.

 

Movement is very important because dogs respond to movement faster than to colours and sizes. The speed of the wag indicates how excited the dog is .The breadth of the wag shows whether the dog’s emotional state is negative or positive

 

Here are some combinations that Dr Coren describes-

 

“●A slight wag-with each swing of only small breadth-is usually seen during greetings as a tentative "Hello there," or a hopeful "I'm here."

 

A broad wag is friendly; "I am not challenging or threatening you." This can alsomean, "I'm pleased," which is the closest to the popular concept of the happiness wag, especially if the tail seems to drag the hips with it.

 

A slow wag with tail at 'half-mast' is less social than most other tail signals. Generally speaking slow wags, with the tail in neither a particularly dominant (high) nor a submissive (low) position, are signs of insecurity.

 

Tiny, high-speed movements, that give the impression of the tail vibrating, are signs the dog is about to do something - usually run or fight. If the tail is held high while vibrating, it is most likely an active threat.”

 

Now come to the direction. According to neuroscientists who collaborated with veterinarians at the University of Trieste in Italy, and the University of Bari, when dogs feel positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rear ends, and when they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left. In experiments, “When the dogs saw their owners, their tails all wagged vigorously with a bias to the right side of their bodies, while an unfamiliar human caused their tails to wag moderately to the right. Looking at the cat, the dogs' tails again wagged more to the right but more slowly and with restrained movements. However the sight of an aggressive, unfamiliar dog caused their tails to wag with a bias to the left side of their bodies.”

 

In most animals including birds, frogs, humans, the left brain is associated with love, safety, calm, serenity and a slow heart rate. The left brain controls the right ride of the body so the movements show on the right side. The right brain is connected with withdrawal, fear, depression, energy expenditure, a rapid heart rate and an affected digestive system, so the movements show on the left. Happiness: right wag. Unhappiness: left wag.

 

If your dog’s tail is cut to a short stub you and he are going to have problems in communication. Firstly, other dogs will be suspicious of your dog because they cannot see the tail positions and so have no idea what to expect. Some actually will snap and growl at your dog. Trainers will confirm that dogs with cut tails are twice as likely to have aggressive encounters as dogs with normal tails. To add to the problem dogs designed for guarding like like Dobermans, Boxers and Rottweilers have their tails cut. But even gentler dogs have a problem. According to the Scientific Journal Behaviour, researchers of the University of British Columbia designed a robot dog, medium sized, looking like a Labrador which is a non aggressive dog. It could be fitted with a 12 inch long tail or a 3.5 inch short stubby tail and this tail's movements could be remotely controlled. When the long tail started wagging, other dogs approached it in a friendly manner. When the tail was upright and motionless (threat), other dogs avoided it. Which meant that dogs were reading the signals. However when the short tail came on, the other dogs were very guarded and approached hesitantly whether or not the stub of a tail wagged or not. Which means they had problems with the message.

 

Docking a tail is like cutting off a human’s tongue. Perhaps even worse, because a human may communicate with his hands and eyes or write, but a dog is then cut off from all his species forever.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Extra-ordinary dogs in Space

Look up at the stars. Will human beings ever reach any of the millions of worlds around us? Will the one foray to the moon ever be duplicated? Will any human ever set foot on Mars?

 

If we do get to another planet, I hope those explorers will remember that they owe it all to dogs.

 

The Russians were the first to attempt to go into space.

 

The first living being sent into orbit was a dog, Laika — a sweet-tempered stray with Siberian Husky blood in her, plucked off the streets of Moscow and put into the Sputnik rocket on 3rd November 1957. The scientists had made no provision for her safe return and she died of overheating and stress before the rocket even reached orbit where it blew up. Can you imagine how much terror she must have felt for the 7 hours she was alive, strapped into a tiny machine. Forty years later, in 1998 Oleg Gazenko, a senior Soviet scientist involved in the project apologized for her suffering.

 

Between the 50s and 60s, the Soviets sent 57 dogs into space, some more than once. Female strays were chosen as the scientists felt they would be able to tolerate the extreme stresses of space flight better than other dogs As part of their training, they were confined in small boxes for 15–20 days at a time wearing astronaut suits, placed in simulators that acted like a rocket during launch, riding in centrifuges that simulated the high acceleration of a rocket launch and being kept in progressively smaller cages to prepare them for the confines of the space module. Even the thought of all the suffering that must have gone into their training makes my hair stand on end. Many must have died during training – a fact that the Soviets kept concealed since the death of Laika had touched such an emotional cord all over the world. Some died in the rockets due to technical failures. The ones that lived were used again. Their diet consisted of protein jelly, and more than 60% of dogs to enter space suffered from constipation and gallstones by the time their flights were over.

 

Laika was the first dog to go into orbit. But many dogs have been put into rockets that flew below the orbit. 29 such flights took place between 1951-1958.The first dogs to fly were Dezik and Tsygan in 1951 and they flew upto 110 kilometers. Both survived. Dezik was used again with another dog called Lisa and this time both died.

 

Many dogs tried to escape. Smelaya ran away a day before she was launched but was caught the next day and sent up along with another dog called Malyshka. Bolik was luckier. She ran away some days before her flight. The scientists simply picked up another untrained dog from the street, named her ZIB ( Russian for replacement for Bolik) and sent her up. She did not die – even though the experience would have been terrifying. Otyzhnaya made 5 flights before she died. Albina and Tsyganka were even ejected out of their capsules and fell down to earth for 85 kilometers. Surprisingly they both came out alive.

 

Damka and Krasavka were to make the first orbital flight on 22 December 1960. However the rocket they were in, failed. The dogs were to be ejected but the ejection seat failed as well. The animals were still in the capsule when it fell to earth in the deep snow. The team that went to locate it did not open it immediately as they reported that there were no signs of life in it. When they did open it two days later the dogs were miraculously found alive and barking! They were flown to Moscow. Krasavka was adopted by a scientist and died 14 years later after giving birth to several children. The scientists were ordered not to make this incident public in case the public reacted negatively to the use of dogs in rockets.

 

Baars and Lisichka were not as lucky. Their rocket exploded 28 seconds after take off.

 

Belka and Strelka spent a day in space aboard Sputnik 5 on 19 August 1960 before safely returning to Earth. They were the first Earth-born creatures to go into orbit and return alive.

 

Strelka went on to have six puppies with a male dog named Pushok who was also sent for many ground-based space experiments, but never made it into space.[One of the pups was named Pushinka and was given to President John Kennedy's daughter Caroline by the Russian Premier Nikita Krushchev in 1961. The story goes that the CIA suspected the dog of carrying transmitters in her body and asked for her to be killed and dissected. Kennedy refused. Pushinka and a Kennedy dog named Charlie mated and their children were referred to by Kennedy as pupniks. Pushinka's descendants are still living today.

 

The dogs on the next Sputnik, Pchyolka and Mushka shared their space on the rocket with other animals and plants. The rocket blew up and they all died.

 

Sputnik 10 was launched on March 25, 1961 with Zvezdochka . It is said the Yuri Gagarin named her. Her one orbit mission was a success and a few weeks later, on April 12, Yuri Gagarin followed the dog he had named into space to become the first human in space.

 

Veterok and Ugolyok were launched on 22 February 1966 on board Cosmos 110, and spent 22 days in orbit before landing on 16 March. This spaceflight of record-breaking duration was not surpassed by humans until Soyuz 11 in June 1971 and still stands as the longest space flight by dogs.

 

Laika ,Veterok and Ugolyok have been commemorated on stamps. Belka and Strelka were stuffed and their bodies taken on tour to other countries. But as our generation passes, they will be remembered less and less.

 

Today, astronauts on space platforms are common. Maybe one day we will reach another planet. Let us not forget the beings who, through their suffering and sacrifices, paved the way.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Luxury lives of your canine/feline

We humans are so weird. On the one hand we kill, as policy, millions of dogs and cats every year. On the other, we spend millions to invent things that will supposedly make the lives, of the dogs and cats we own, easier.

 

Jay Leno did a talk show on TV and once a week he would round up the strangest gadgets he could find. That’s what I did this weekend and I was really surprised at what the market has to offer for pets. What kind of people invented these and what kind of people buy this stuff?

 

*A dog umbrella: basically an inverted transparent umbrella with a twisted stick to hold over your dog while he walks. Transparent, because he can then see the world. You, on the other hand have to just watch him to see that he does not get wet.

 

* Pet video camera attached to a dog’s collar which shows you the world from the dog’s perspective. That’s probably more of a spycam than anything useful for the animal.

 

* In order to keep dogs calm , a portable palm sized compact player ( IPawd?) which plays music clinically demonstrated to relieve canine anxiety issues.

 

* Playing ‘Fetch’ with your dog can be very tiring for you. Throwing balls can tire your arm muscles. Get a battery powered automatic ball launcher which will shoot a miniature tennis ball 10-30 feet away. When the dog brings the ball back, put it again into the machine and it will send the ball again.

 

* Dogs urinating on the lawn can turn patches of grass yellow. Buy igneous rocks and put into the dog’s water dish. They remove the nitrates from the water that the dog drinks so that his urine doesn’t burn up the grass.

 

* Do you want to know who your dog really is ? Buy a DNA Test, swab his cheeks and send the samples to a lab. The lab will tell you the main breeds that went into him, breed specific traits, health problems you might face. Each kit gets you a photo of your dog and his unique DNA composition.

 

* Worried that you dog is feeling too hot in his kennel. Get a small portable doghouse air conditioner which cools in summer and heats in winter. (Why not just let him into the house?)

 

* Want to amuse your cat? Get a solar powered cat tantalizer which is basically a plastic ball with feathers on it. Stick it on a window with suction cups, and the sunlight will activate the toy and make it sway so that your cat plays with it. You can also get a battery powered nylon mouse which moves randomly, slowing down, speeding up and reversing. If your cat is not amused enough, get a battery powered gadget that projects laser patterns randomly around the room to fascinate the animal. It’ll do this for 15 minutes and then turn off automatically.

 

* How about a battery operated illuminated neon coloured pet collar for your pet to wear at night so that you can find him easily. The only problem is that the battery has to be recharged every two hours.

 

* How about a special doormat that soaks up water or dirt that the dog brings in.

 

* Don’t like your dog being wet after his bath. Instead of a normal towel get a special towel made of polyester-chenille which has pockets sewn into the corners for better control in drying. Put your hands in them and then dry the dog. He will enjoy the massage as well. Another way is for your dog to clean himself. Buy a superabsorbent towel. Persuade your pup to sit down on the towel and zip it up so it’s around his neck. Let him roll around and get himself clean. It comes in five different sizes. Or, a shower curtain with built-in gloves - so you can bathe your dog without getting wet every time she shakes!

 

* Your dog doesn’t like the smell of polluted air any more than you do .Get him a battery powered air purifying collar. This mini air purifier can be attached to the collar in order to neutralize smells and bacteria.

 

* Do you want your dog to tell you when it wants to go out to the bathroom? Get a snout operated bell and teach him how to use it by putting a biscuit in the slot next to it.

 

* How about a remote controlled collar. If your dog is behaving badly, a press on the remote releases a burst of compressed air from the collar at the dog’s nose.

 

* Want to remove the hair left by your dog or cat on the sofa, blankets or carpets or the bed? Get a packet of sticky sheets, stick one on the furry spot, rub it down to get all the fur and then pull it away.

 

* Put a waterproof cell phone with a GPS tracker onto your pet’s collar. If he runs away you can try and talk him back or track him down.

 

* What to know what your dog or cat is saying? Get a Cat or Dog electronic translator which are programmed to understand any of the six emotions they may feel when they bark or meow. These emotions have been codified into the Animal Emotion Analysis System.

 

There are many more that I will save for another time. But I actually know a woman who buys shoes and socks for her dogs; one who takes her dog to get a manicure from her beauty parlour; and one who gets a special mattress, costing thousands, for her dog – its supposed to fit the contours of his body. So maybe there are many more crazy people out there – both those who kill animals and those who buy utter rubbish for their pets.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Extraordinary creatures

Apart from the dogs that went into space, paving the way for human astronauts, how many dogs down the ages have made history. The Roman Army had dog units with spiked collars of long curved knives around their neck and ankles. Their dog of choice was the great Molossian dogs of Epirus, specifically trained for battle. These dogs helped spread the Roman Empire across the ancient world. Thousands of crimes have been solved by sniffer dogs and hundreds of drug smugglers are cooling their heels in jail, caught by dogs. In fact a great deal of detective work is done by them all over the world. So many heads of state have been saved from assassination by dogs sniffing out bombs. So many people are saved from robbers every day by timely alerts from their dogs. So many people become enemies over dogs. All this must surely count as history making.

Dogs have influenced the decisions and actions and fates of well known figures down the ages.

I would say the most important story that turned an entire nation’s attitude is that of Hachiko. The book, “Empire of Dogs: Canine, Japan and the Making of the Modern World”, by Aaron Skabelund relates the evolution of Japanese pride with the dog.

As the Western Nations colonized parts of the world, they brought their dogs with them. Local breeds were immediately termed as inferior and local populations were taught that only Western breeds were superior. In most cases (including India) the colonized populace fell in line and immediately lost pride in their own. The English bulldog, the German Shepherd, the French poodle…these racist bloodlines became superior and companions of the local elite, lording it over mongrels and stray. The Japanese were no different – until Hachiko the Akita.

Hachiko met his master in front of Shibuya Station everyday when he returned from work and kept coming for nine years even after the professor died in 1925. He caught the attention of the public and became the embodiment of unswerving loyalty and duty. A statue was made of him and his symbol lead the revival towards self pride in the Japanese. Indigenous dogs became the rage and seven Japanese breeds were recognized in the 1930s. The most famous wartime dog was the cartoon character Norakuro (1931-41), a mongrel orphan who rose from private to colonel in a dog army whose feats, blunders and victories captured the popular imagination.

Florence Nightingale is regarded as the founder of modern nursing. But this might not have happened if she had not had a chance encounter with a wounded dog. She was best known for her activities in the Crimean War in 1854 when she organized a band of nurses and then established a nursing school in London. What drew her to nursing? In 1837 when she was 17 years old, she came across a sheepdog named Cap who lived with his shepherd owner in a cottage near her house. One day some village boys looking for entertainment pelted him with stones, one of which damaged his leg so severely that he could not work. His master decided to hang him as he could not afford to keep a sick dog. While he was in the fields he met Florence and told her his decision. She asked him if she could help and, taking the local clergyman with them, she examined the dog whose leg was simply badly bruised. Florence prepared wet hot flannel compresses for bandages and returned for several days to nurse the dog who went back to work and became her friend. A day later Florence had a dream that nursing was her destiny. In her mind, the entire incident was a sign from God that she should devote her life to healing others. She was ultimately to change the world.

Alexander the Great might have died before conquering half the world if he had not been saved by Peritas his dog. When he was surrounded by the army of Darius II in Persia and an elephant loomed ahead to crush him, Peritas leapt and bit the lip of the elephant causing it to swerve. Alexander lived to pursue his conquests.

How did the scientists recognize the value of pets in therapy for the mentally and physically unwell? Sigmund Freud kept a chow named Jofi in his office during psychotherapy sessions, believing the dog comforted the patients. Freud’s notes on these interactions, detailed in his diaries, form the basis of modern day pet assisted therapy.

Its not just that God spelt backwards is Dog. Here is how the major religion of England came about. King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon. Being Catholics he needed the

Pope to agree to an annulment. Cardinal Wolsey was sent to Rome and as he bent to kiss the Pontiff’s ring , his little dog Urian dashed forward and bit the Pope. The Pope, in a temper, refused to entertain any thought of divorce and Henry then established his own religion called the Church of England and made himself the head.

Napoleon Bonaparte, escaping the Island of Elba in 1815 fell overboard in a storm. He was rescued by a fisherman’s dog, a Newfoundland. He lived to fight and lose again at the Battle of Waterloo.

Perhaps the only thing standing between an artist and true greatness is the lack of a good pet. German composer Richard Wagner relied on his spaniel, Peps, to help him through the creation of “Tannhäuser”, an epic opera. Peps had his own stool next to Wagner’s piano. Wagner would play each passage to his dog and judging by his reactions would tweak the music to please him.

Sir Isaac Newton who invented calculus, the theory of universal gravitation, Newtonian mechanics, reflecting telescopes, particle theory and the visible spectrum of light, had one close companion, his dog Diamond. Who knows what else Newton would have revealed to the world? Diamond knocked over a candle that destroyed years of Newton’s work. Newton replied, "O Diamond, Diamond, thou little knowest the damage thou hast done"

Here’s one that will appeal to all of us : A dog, named Saur, served as king after the people of Norway killed Onund, King Eystein’s son. After his son’s death the king gave the people a choice - to be ruled by a slave or a dog. The people chose the dog. He ruled for three years, had his own gold collar, the best food, and an opulent palace. He stamped all official documents with a paw print. Unfortunately he was killed when wolves tore him to pieces.

The Pawprints of History, by Stanley Cohen, gives the histories of dozens of dogs that have influenced or been part of history. Worth a read if only to value your dog companion even more.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Therapeutic dogs

There is a drug rehabilitation centre in Mumbai whose inmates read like the Who’s Who list of Society; Rich people’s sad teenage children who had a lot of money and no attention. As part of the curriculum, these teenagers go abroad twice a month, sightsee, eat well, and go to plays and films… anything to show them that life can be good as well.

 

This seems like the kind of place that will get repeat cases. I know one young adult on drugs who has gone back for the third time. The source of sadness is usually much more than just being ignored or mistreated in childhood or being spoilt with too much money. It is often a mental health disorder related to chemicals going awry in the brain.

 

Experiments taking place as I write this show that dogs might be able to correct this condition in troubled teenagers who are in residential treatment centres for drug and alcohol abuse, by beneficially improving brain chemistry.

 

Lindsay Ellsworth, who led the research, is a doctoral candidate in animal sciences at Washington State University. She brought dogs from the Spokane Humane Society to the Excelsior Youth Center. Teen participants were all males.

 

During daily recreation time at Excelsior, some of the teens played games ranging from sedentary video games to basketball. Another group interacted with the dogs, by brushing, feeding and playing with them. Before and after the activities, the teens filled an assessment called PANAS – X , 60 mood descriptions on a scale of one to five, used by psychologists to scale and study emotion.

 

Teens who spent time with dogs experienced heightened joy, improved attentiveness and serenity. Some of the words the boys used to describe their moods after working with the dogs were ‘excited’, ‘energetic’ and ‘happy’. Symptoms for participants being treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder dramatically decreased. In the researchers’ opinion companionship with dogs probably stimulated the release of opioids, psychoactive chemicals that can relieve pain and promote pleasurable feelings. Why do people take drugs? Certain drugs bind to opioid receptors in the brain creating chemically induced pleasure. However, repeated drug use, after a time, leaves the user lonely, depressed even suicidal.  Social companionship with dogs appears to help alleviate these negative states and act as mood boosters. Overall, sadness decreased.

 

The researchers described the effect on one teenager with behavioural problems. “During his first couple of encounters with the dogs, he had to learn how to control his behaviour in order not to startle the dogs. His tone and voice eventually became quieter, his stroke softer, his moves more calculated versus spontaneous, and he appeared to become more aware of himself and how he was acting.” After a few sessions with the dogs, the boy’s interactions with the staff became far more positive.

 

According to Ellsworth "I was surprised, during the trial period, how calm the boys were around the dogs, and at how outbursts and hyperactivity diminished,” she said. “It was something you could observe like night and day.”

 

If taken seriously, this could be a really cost effective way to complement traditional therapies in drug rehab centres. Not just dogs, for cat fanciers, felines also stimulate opioid release. According to the management at this teen rehab centre, this kind of science-based program should be established as part of the centres’ structured activities. Dopamine, a natural feel-good chemical human brains produce, is released in the boys' brains as they anticipate the dog’s interaction. Using natural stimuli, like dogs, could help restore the normal function of these critical chemical messengers after the brain's chemistry has been altered through drug use.

 

According to the researchers, dogs from shelters are far more responsive to humans than family owned dogs.

 

While science is just beginning to confirm the effect of animals on troubled adolescents, Karen Hawkins runs a healing farm in Maine where she takes in children and animals who are in need of healing. According to her "Some of these children had little or no nurturing when they were young. Having them help me nurture orphaned wildlife gave them some personal experiences of how nurturing should have been for them. I saw angry, sullen and sometimes downright vicious children - usually teens but sometimes younger - slowly become softer and milder in their behaviors. They began to trust more. They learned to confide their secrets to the animals and eventually that made it easier for them to begin to trust humans."

 

On our own continent, South Korean psychiatrists have been absorbed by the problem of almost 10% of their population between the ages of 10 to 19 being addicted to the Internet. Teenagers stay up all night gaming or watching pornography. Newly established healing centres have taken help from an unlikely source: horses. Therapists say horse-riding therapy works when other means fail. The connection between human and animal helps address emotional issues, therapists say, that are the real source of the addiction.

 

Can man live on this planet alone? No. His relationship to animals is really the bedrock of his emotional well being. When we remove the relationship, we destroy many mental pathways to happiness. Just as green fields and trees make you feel good, the rain and the sun and butterflies make you feel good, it is really important for our children to have animals as part of their families to make them whole people.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Slave makers

The animal world fascinates me for two reasons. Their talents and abilities far exceed ours. They are so similar to humans in the way they feel emotion and handle problems.

 

And no species are more humanlike than ants.

 

None of us like working. We would all like to be waited on hand and foot. Many nations go to war for slaves – the Roman Empire was built on them. The Americans picked them up from Africa. The entire middle class upwards of India exists because someone else who needs the money comes in to cook, clean and look after the children.

 

Some species of ants feel the same way. They parasitize other ants using aggression and deception. In fact, entomologists go out into the field looking for the ultimate thrill: encountering a raiding party of slave-making ants.

 

There are three main types of ant parasites: temporary social parasites, ants that live in the nest of the other species and slave-makers.

 

Temporary social parasites depend on other ant species only during the establishment of new colonies. As soon as the young queen finishes her mating flight and is inseminated, she penetrates a host colony, kills the original queen, and gains acceptance by the workers. The parasitic queen then lays eggs that develop, with the care of the host colony workers, into a worker force of their own offspring. Eventually the host workers die leaving only the parasitic queens and their offspring. So a mature colony contains only members of the parasitic species. For instance, the queen of the Myrmoxenus ravouxi species will fake death to entice ants from another colony to drag her back to their nest, where she awakens and kills the nest's original queen. She will then cover herself in the dead queen's pheromones, and will begin producing eggs. Her children will overrun the colony.

 

Since the main defence of every ant colony is a recognition system based on smell, some invading queens fight with workers of the host species outside the nest, kill them, take their odour sacs and obtain a chemical disguise before entering the host nest.

 

The slave makers Chalepoxenus and Harpagoxenus, kill all the adult workers. New workers come from the conquered brood and they rear the brood of the parasite.
While temporary social parasites typically kill the host queens, in some species, the queens and ants that settle down permanently in the nest of the other species are usually tolerant of the host queens. They are bigger. For instance the Swiss ant Teleutomyrmex schneideri have concave abdomens and long tarsal claws which enable them to grip onto the host queens and ride their backs. Despite the burden, the host queens continue to produce worker offspring and so the mixed species colony is permanent. The host workers simultaneously rear the brood of both the parasitic and non-parasitic queens.

 

Other variations on these hostile takeovers include one South American species whose workers secrete a chemical on a host colony that causes the ants of the host colony to evacuate the nest. In their haste to leave, the babies are left behind. These are then taken back to the raiders’ nest.

 

The slave-makers are the most human like. These raid other ant colonies to steal the babies. Some of the stolen larvae and pupae are eaten. The others are turned into worker slaves that are chemically imprinted and completely integrated into the society of their enslavers. The slaves tend the nurseries, gather food, feed their enslavers, care for the queen, and defend the nest against threats. If the colony moves to a new location, the slaves physically carry their enslavers to their new nest. Sometimes, the slaves even participate with the slave-making workers in raids against other ant colonies of their own or closely related species. In fact, in some species, the workers are strictly bred for the purpose of going out and conquering other nests.

 

Slavemakers differ. Some, like Formica subnuda, fight for hours and mortality is high in both invader and invaded workers. So they raid small new colonies and keep slaves as only about 10% of their workforce.
In sharp contrast, slave-makers like P. breviceps with their enlarged glands and sharp sickle-shaped mandibles have slaves that comprise 90% of the work force. How are their raids so successful? Magic! They emit a secretion which pacifies or turns workers from the raided colony against each other. Workers that are immune to the magic and offer resistance are immobilized by piercing their heads with the mandibles.

 

The queens of slavemaker ants such as Protomognathus americanus produce a special kind of offspring .These are not normal workers but scouts whose only job is to identify "host" ant colonies suitable for attack. A small slavemaker colony may consist of one queen, two to five workers and 30 to 60 slaves. Scout ants are very valuable because their decision about suitable raid targets has to be right or the raiders get wiped out. During the attack the slavemaker ants steal host pupae and take them back to their own colony. The pupae are imprinted on the odour of the slavemaker colony and grow up to perform all of the ordinary worker tasks.

 

Slavemakers don’t go charging in at random. In fact, they target the strong over the weak when seeking new servants. Larger, better defended colonies are chosen over smaller, weaker ones because the ants have reasoned out that strong defences means strong workers who would do more work. In fact the slavemakers and their victims are usually closely related.

 

But slave making, as the Romans learnt, has its own drawbacks. The slave makers are lost without their slaves – they cannot nurse, forage for food or manage any colony task. In fact P. breviceps cannot survive on its own even if plenty of food is available. This ant must have slaves to survive, and mature colonies must obtain a minimum of about 6000 slaves per season per colony.

 

A typical colony of 3,000 slave-making ants may have more than 6,000 slaves working for it.

 

Do the slaves live their lives hopelessly or do they ever rebel? Ants wouldn’t be human if they didn’t  Temnothorax longispinosisants enslaved by the dark, bulbous-headed ant called Protomognathus americanus, tasked with the feeding and care of their slothful masters and their children, will, every now and then, lead a major rebellion. The slaves will just stop feeding and cleaning the young ants in their care, leading them to die. Sometimes, a group of slaves will incite an all-out revolt and dismember the young in a gruesome game of tug-of-war, killing upto 70%. Like Spartacus, they may not be able to save themselves but this mutiny can reduce the number of slave masters and save other colonies populated by the slaves’ relatives.

 

Do you think God ran out of ideas and simply made a miniature version of the human species?

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Child sex identification-non mammals can do it easily

Most of the human body’s abilities are still hidden from us. Where do sudden bursts of energy come from when a woman in a panic can lift a car? How can one person learn twenty languages? How can yoga teach you to have different temperatures in different parts of the body? What predisposes a person to get cancer? Millions of experiments later, this temporary home for our spirit is still a mysterious entity.

 

One of the major areas of ignorance is why some people have only girls, some only boys and some both. How does the body decide which sperm to choose?

 

Are we the only mammals to whom the sex of their children comes as a surprise. It would seem so. Animals who are so much more comfortable with their bodies can apparently choose the sex of their children.

 

Non-mammals can do it quite easily.

 

Ants, bees and wasps, which live in complex societies, choose the sex of their babies. Queen honey bees are not just mindless egg layers. Every young queen goes on a mating flight and stores the sperm she collects from multiple matings for the rest of her life, using it up bit by bit as she lays eggs. Males, called drones, emerge from unfertilized eggs, and females emerge from fertilized ones and become the workers. If the queen adds sperm to an egg, it will produce a female; if she withholds sperm, the egg will produce a male. Mothers prefer to have daughters because they help with bringing up babies, so large workforces of female helpers are created with very few males. That means the queen controls the sex of her offspring. Only in termite societies do both male and females help to raise offspring so there is an equal balance of sexes.

 

Yellow dung flies collect sperm from different mates and then selectively choose the "best" sperm according to the dung on which the eggs will be laid.

 

Reptiles control the sex of their babies by lowering or raising the temperature of their eggs.  Eggs are affected by the temperature at which they are incubated. In turtles males are produced at lower incubation temperatures than females with as little difference as 1-2 deg.C. In lizards and crocodiles, this pattern is reversed. That both males and females come out of a nest is because incubation temperatures vary widely. Eggs at the top of a nest incubate at different temperatures than eggs in the middle or at the bottom.

 

The female of the Southern Water Skink in Australia controls the sex of her offspring with her own body temperature.  When temperatures are warm, female lizards give birth exclusively to males. Which means that, as global warming increases, the females will stop giving birth to females and the species will become extinct.

 

Now, a 2013 study at Stanford University School of Medicine published in the journal PLOSONE says that mammals can choose the sex of their children as well. The researchers analyzed 90 years of breeding records of 198 species and 2,300 animals from the San Diego Zoo and proved that mammals manipulate the sex ratios of their offspring as part of an evolutionary strategy. All major mammal groups were represented from primates, lions, bears, wolves, cows, buffalo and deer, horses and rhinos.

 

The scientists found that grandmothers and grandfathers were able to strategically choose to give birth to sons, if those sons would be high-quality and in turn reward them with more grandchildren. The process is believed to be largely controlled by the females who make the decisions of gender. According to the study, when a mother mostly gave birth to boys, those sons had 2.7 times more offspring than males whose moms had a more equal number of boys and girls. The daughters of moms who mostly had girls produced 1.2 times as many offspring as daughters whose moms had an equal mix of boys and girls. “This is one of the holy grails of modern evolutionary biology -- finding the data which definitively show that when females choose the sex of their offspring, they are doing so strategically to produce more grandchildren," says Joseph Garner, Stanford professor and senior author of the study.

 

Garner adds "We like to think of reproduction as being all about the males competing for females, with females dutifully picking the winner. But in reality females are making highly strategic decisions about their reproduction based on the environment, their condition and the quality of their mate. Amazingly, the female is somehow picking the sperm that will produce the sex that will serve her interests the most: The sperm are really just pawns in a game that plays out over generations."

 

The “vaal rhebok” is a South African antelope. Herds are made up of several females and one dominant male who mates with all of them. That male will defend his harem from solitary males often fighting to the death. Therefore it is safer for these antelopes to have daughters, who will reproduce each breeding season. A son may never mate at all. So most bear females with an occasional male that guarantees a number of grandchildren.

 

Francois’ Langur is an Asian primate living in matriarchal groups led by females. Groups usually only have one adult male and young males set off to make groups of their own when they reach maturity.

 

Having daughters leads to more grandchildren than having a balanced sex ratio. Females high up on the social totem pole have more daughters. It is the lower ranked ones that have the occasional son.

 

The study builds on a theory first proposed in 1973 by scientists Robert Trivers and Dan Willard, founders of the field of evolutionary biology. They challenged the conventional wisdom that sex determination in mammals is random, with parents investing equally in their offspring to generate a 50-50 sex ratio in the population. Instead, they hypothesized that mammals manipulate the sex of their offspring in order to get better reproductive success. Parents in good condition, based on health, size, dominance, hierarchy produce sons, whose inherited strength can help them better compete in the mating market and give them greater opportunities to produce more offspring. Conversely, mothers in poor condition produce more daughters. The hypothesis was reinforced in 1984 in a paper by T.H. Clutton-Brock at the University of Cambridge, who found that among wild red deer, dominant mothers produced significantly more sons than deer who held a subordinate position within the herd.

 

How do mammalian parents manipulate the sex of their offspring? The mechanism is not known, though one theory holds that females can control the speed of "male" and "female" sperm as they move through the reproductive tract.

 

Can humans do it? Here is some weird evidence that might show that humans unconsciously, manipulate their children’s sexes as well. For instance, the top-ranking wives in polygamous societies are more likely to have sons than lower-ranking wives, according to an analysis of Mormons. A 2009 survey of 400 U.S. billionaires found they were more likely to have sons than daughters, keeping the wealth in the family. A study published in 1988  found that mothers with an inherited speech disorder had three times as many sons as daughters, in theory because a son with a speech impediment would have an easier time finding a mate than a speech-impaired daughter.

 

A few years from now, I am sure we will catch up with the ability of the humble dung fly and learn how to consciously control the sex of our children.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Deadly insects

I have come across the most amazing book “Six legged Soldiers” by Jeffrey Lockwood. He talks about man’s use of insects as the earliest weapons. The Bible is full of this. The god of the Israelites Yahweh or Jehovah, in the Old Testament, used "blights" to frighten the enemies of the Israelites. The Egyptians were seen as the enemies of the God of Moses as they held the Israelites captive. He sent them ten punishments. The first one, written in Exodus was preceded by a warning "Thus saith the Lord, in this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite thee with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river."

 

And so the first plague came to pass with the Nile turning red. Dinoflagellates, which are tiny single-celled sea organism commonly called plankton, multiplied prolifically and covered the river, stopping the flow of oxygen and killing all aquatic life (something that our pesticides are doing today to many parts of the ocean, creating a phenomena called “dead zone” because all marine life dies).

 

But the Egyptians refused to release the Israelites. So Yahweh went one step further- "If thou refuse to let them go, Behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs". (I am writing this article from Goa and there are two frogs hopping across my room. While I find the frogs lovely, as I do all creatures, one person has taken refuge on her bed to avoid being attacked!); and so it came to pass that the frogs , probably driven away from the poisonous river and the smell of dead fish, spread out all over Egypt, frightening as many people as those who are scared of lizards (my niece).

 

Now, without fish and frogs to consume insects, obviously the next thing to happen was the increase in biting insects. Yahweh was environmentally aware, as was Moses. So it is written in Exodus "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, say to Aaron, stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the land that it may become gnat swarms throughout the land of Egypt." I have horrid biting gnats in my forested garden in Delhi and they are enough, like the lines by Nana Patekar, to turn a man into a non-man. Gnats can madden both man and animals. Horses rear with anger and refuse to work, donkeys kick their owners, sheep run about ...The tormented soldiers guarding the Israelites would have spent more time scratching themselves than wielding their weapons. The Israelites were apparently granted immunity.

 

But the gnats were not enough and so Yahweh decided on a fourth plague. He warned the Pharaoh, "Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground wheron they are." Flies, which probably increased because they were feeding on the decomposing fish and rotting vegetation of the Nile, spread out. Stable flies, horse flies, deer flies - all of which have a nasty bite. But even if they were just houseflies who don't bite but buzz and infect food, we Indians know that that would have been bad enough.

 

So the fifth plague was predictable "For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be. Very grievous murrain (meaning infectious and fast spreading disease). And the Lord shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children's of Israel." The animals bitten by the insects ( who apparently had the sense to distinguish between Egyptian and Israeli owned livestock, bearing out my theory that every creature has intelligence) died of viral diseases spread by the flies an gnats of the previous two plagues.

 

The Pharaoh still did not get the message. So Yahweh went to the next logical step for his sixth plague "And the Lord said unto Moses and unto Aaron, take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of the Pharaoh. And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout the land of Egypt." Obviously what happened next was that people bitten by biting flying insects developed pus filled sores (as you sometimes do when you scratch mosquito bites). Anthrax is one possibility and it is spread by stable flies. The wound becomes a blood filled lump which bursts and becomes a spreading ulcer. And since penicillin, antibiotics and hospitals had not been invented, this one was a killer.

 

Obviously the Pharaoh was like those people who don’t believe in global warming and so he held on to the Israelites. By now his people and animals were sick but there was still food. So Yahweh sent a hailstorm next and destroyed half the Egyptians crops and followed it up with the next entomological plague "if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast. And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped , which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which growth for you out of the field." Clouds of locusts descended and finished off all the food. (Some years ago, when I was in government, there was a rumour that locusts were coming across to India and I promise you several official meetings were held to see what we could do in the event of the resulting famine!)

 

The Pharaoh finally caved in when, as threatened by Yahweh in his final plague , the children of Egypt, specifically the first born, started dying. Since the first child is loved and fed well even if the parents are starving, he or she probably got to eat the mouldy food from the pits that were used by the Egyptians for storing grain. Doesn't our government also distribute grain from our silos after it gets funguses - how many children have died is an unrecorded statistic.

 

And so the Israelites were let go, freed by armies of insects who worked diligently to destroy their enemies. The best recorded example of entomological warfare but not the last. As global warming comes upon us, this is what will happen to all our nations. One dead river can do all this - those who take the dying of the Jamuna and the Ganges lightly would do well to think seriously about the future of India.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Holy Cow

Thousands of cows and buffaloes pour into Kerala illegally every day. They are being smuggled out of Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. They are killed in the most terrible ways possible in 900 slaughterhouses. These are animals that have been overloaded into trucks for days – the law allows 6 only. These trucks carry more than 80 animals crammed together with chillies in their eyes so that their pain keeps them still, broken legs, and cramps. Some fall off the trucks and die hanging by their ropes, on the side of the truck. Others are trampled on and die. Dead or alive they are brought to these slaughterhouses. Then they are given chemical injections to make their kidneys fail so that the water they drink remains inside and they seem heavier when they are weighed by the butchers. They are given injections to freeze the blood so that it doesn’t fall everywhere when they are being cut. They are killed in a way that is neither jhatka nor halal - hammered repeatedly till they fall then stabbed in the throat with sharpened rods that are twisted till the blood spurts out onto the floor and then hacked with knives till they finally die.

 

None of this will give safe meat to beef eaters. The animals will be full of acid and adrenalin from the stress and pain, the meat is full of gangrene because the limbs have been broken for several days and rot has set in, the chemicals of the injections will affect human blood and kidneys, the filth of the hammers and the knives can give tetanus.

 

But added to all this is another danger: foot and mouth disease (FMD). Most cattle being shipped to Kerala are being sold because they have FMD. This is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cattle, pigs, goats, and sheep. India, specially Tamil Nadu and Orissa, has an epidemic of FMD. Cattle on these terrible illegal trucks, that have been rescued by animal activists in Tamil Nadu, have been tested for Foot and Mouth disease. All of them have it.

 

The symptoms are a high fever for some days , shivering, followed by huge and painful blisters on the tongue, nose and mouth that lead to excessive secretion of stringy or foamy saliva drooling from the mouth. The boils on the legs and feet rupture and cause permanent severe lameness. Infected animals sway from one foot to the other due to tenderness of the feet. Adult animals suffer weight loss for months. Male testicles swell and female milk production declines significantly and permanently. Blisters form on the teats and burst. Through ruptured blisters, the animal is at risk from secondary bacterial infections. Though some animals eventually recover, the disease can lead to inflammation of the heart muscle. Some animals have no symptoms but are carriers of the FMD virus. There is no cure. 5% die. The rest recover gradually. Most will be sterile and will never recover their milk giving capacity.

 

FMD is extremely infectious. The virus spreads through contact with contaminated farming equipment, vehicles, clothing or feed. Vaccines are rarely effective because the virus mutates quickly. This means FMD vaccines must be specific to the strain involved. Even then vaccination only provides temporary immunity that lasts months. The only answer is isolation which has to be immediate and severe. Here, in India, the animal welfare department has few people on the ground and it does nothing. The owner of the cow or buffalo sells the animal to the butcher as soon as he sees the symptoms, because the animal will always be weak and prone to other infections, the milk is going to be less and the animal is too lame to do any field work.

 

What do other countries do? Because the virus is spread so easily, countries with the disease are banned from exporting animals and their products. Sick animals cannot be legally sold. Protection and surveillance zones are set up. The movement of animals, animal products, feed and bedding are prohibited. Public rights of way are closed to prevent the disease spreading. Disinfectant is used on footwear, clothing and vehicles. Infected animals are destroyed. The sale of meat and milk from infected areas is forbidden as the virus can survive in smoked and cured meats and insufficiently pasteurized milk. Farmers are not allowed to take animals to slaughter or market. Export health certificates for animals and animal products are withdrawn.

 

Most countries live in fear of Foot and Mouth Disease and have extremely strict controls to prevent it from coming in. America, Australia and most of Europe are FMD free but if a single case is suspected the entire herd is killed. in 2001, an outbreak of FMD in Britain resulted in the slaughter of many animals, the postponing of the general election for a month, and the cancellation of many sporting events and leisure activities. In 2010, 3 cows tested positive in Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan. 270,000 cattle were slaughtered. Taiwan was among the top 15 pork producers in the world in 1996. During the outbreak, over 3.8 million swine were destroyed and the export market finished. By 2007, Taiwan was considered free of FMD, but was still conducting a vaccination program, which restricts its export of meat. In 2011, South Korea found 100 pigs with FMD. Three million pigs and 107,000 cattle were killed to halt the outbreak.

 

The World Organisation for Animal Health recognizes India as an FMD country. We do nothing about it because the countries that import our meat are happy to eat cheap contaminated beef. Any country that gives vaccinations also has restrictions on the export of meat because the vaccination itself is a contaminant. But the people of Kerala eat beef happily and export it even more happily.

 

By law, no one in any country is allowed to sell an FMD affected animal, and all animal selling fairs are to be cancelled . In India these laws exist, but no one, least of all the government inspectors, respect them. Diseased animals are sold freely, taken to fairs and sold at discounts. Their owners roam around spreading the virus without a care in the world, their hands, clothes and vehicles full of virus. A truck that has carried FMD diseased cattle will give it to every single animal that is unlucky enough to be pushed onto it. Trucks, market places, and loading ramps need to be disinfected. Is a truck in India that has carried animals to slaughter ever cleaned? In the last month alone, over 10,000 cattle in Tamil Nadu have been reported as having FMD. It has made no difference to anyone. The state animal welfare department claims it has contained the epidemic by giving vaccinations. The farmers of Tamil Nadu are simply sending their animals to Kerala for killing.

 

Kerala send thousands of tonnes of beef to the Middle East. All of it is infected with FMD. Normally the government should put an export ban. But no one wants to stand in the way of people who earn money even if we are poisoning the rest of the world and ourselves.

 

While FMD is rare in humans it is certainly zoonotic. Humans can be infected with foot-and-mouth disease through contact with infected animals. The virus that causes FMD spreads in the human mouth before the meat is swallowed. Cases of FMD afflicted humans have been reported in the UK, Europe, Africa and South America – before the strict control measures came in. In India FMD is not even taught to doctors, so it is un-diagnosable. Technically, the symptoms of FMD in humans include malaise, fever, vomiting, sore throats, swollen testicles, red ulcerative lesions in the mouth and blisters of the skin and feet. But anyone going to a doctor would probably be diagnosed with some other disease.

 

China and India are the Rogue Nations.

 

China regularly reports outbreaks of FMD but no one knows what they do to the infected animals. They hide their outbreaks by changing the name of the disease -Chinese domestic media reports often use a euphemism "Disease Number Five" so that exports are not affected. In March 2010, Southern Rural News, in an article "Breaking the Hoof and Mouth Disease Taboo", revealed that FMD has long been covered up in China by also referring to it as canker, mouth ulcers, or hoof jaundice .

 

India and China both obey no international bans and nor do the Middle East countries that import our meat.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Ultimate weapons

There are many ways to wage war. The most obvious one is to use weapons and armies, kill the enemy and damage their property. The other one is to damage their crops and make them die of hunger. Many countries have thought of this.

 

This is where insects are the ultimate weapons. They can be used in two ways: to spread disease and to bring a country to its knees through starvation. “Entomological warfare could be turned into military strategy” says Jeffrey Lockwood, author of Six legged Soldiers, a remarkable book I have just finished reading.

 

I grew up in a time where everyone in India believed (and many believe till today) that the Parthenium plant, called Congress weed, and Gajarghas which has proved so damaging to India, was deliberately sent to us by America through its PL 480 donation of wheat in the 60s. The plant spreads asthma, eczema and has been responsible for the suffering of lakhs of people. Who knows the truth? Cuba believes that America tried to destroy its agriculture by releasing the insects, thrips, to destroy the island's agriculture and in 1997 a formal complaint was made to the UN which, predictably, said it was an "accidental" introduction. The North Vietnamese have also accused America of destroying their fields with "killer insects".

 

America has suffered from insect invasions as well. The Asian long horned beetle that appeared in 1995 has inflicted millions of dollars of damage without anyone discovering how it entered. In 1989 a group of people threatened to release Medflies into California, an insect that destroys fruit orchards. The calculated losses would have exceeded 14 billion, more than the entire budget of many nations.

 

During the Second World War, all the big nations opened laboratories to develop insects to use on each other as part of war strategy. They thought along the lines of releasing flies, lice and mosquitoes to spread typhus, malaria, yellow fever and the plague. Ultimately the insect that became the focus of military attention was a small black and yellow non-biting, non-disease spreading, herbivorous insect – the Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata).

 

Discovered 200 years ago in the Rocky Mountains of America the beetle was a harmless insect that ate a poisonous plant called Deadly Nightshade. As America took to farming, the beetle travelled and found that it preferred potatoes, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and tobacco. It started wreaking havoc from coast to coast.

 

The alarmed Europeans banned the import of American potatoes. They had just recovered by the middle 1800s from the Great Famine which started with the fungal rotting of potatoes in Ireland, which claimed the lives of 1 million people. So Europe remained beetle free. But during the First World War the Americans and their supplies inadvertently brought the beetle in.

 

In 1938 Haldane, a British scientist, wrote a paper called Science and the Future of Warfare in which he talked about normal insects being far more important in winning battles than poisonous gases. “It would be very surprising, for example, if insect pests, such as the potato beetle , were not introduced into this country by hostile aeroplanes in the course of a future war. The potato beetle would not cause a famine but it would cause a certain amount of trouble and keep a certain number of people busy who could be used for other purposes…”

 

A brilliant prediction. In May 1939 a section of the French military establishment proposed a system of dropping beetles on enemy potato fields. By September the Colorado Potato Beetle was being produced and release methods were being tested in Cazaux.

 

In 1940 the Germans invaded France and discovered this programme, even though the French had tried to destroy it. They assumed that if the French were getting ready for beetle warfare, so were the British and Americans. The Germans had already suspected attacks by the beetle would be on the enemy’s agenda and had started a Potato Beetle Defence Service with 632 men in charge of finding and guarding 2 million acres of potato fields. An outbreak of the beetle in Bavaria and Thuringia gave them proof. In 1942, the Germans received information that the British were planning to throw 15,000 beetles into their fields. The military decided that it was not good enough to be on the defensive. A decision was taken to create an army of beetles and Professor Heinrich Kliewe was put in charge. A Potato Beetle Research Institute was created to grow beetles and find ways to disseminate them. At war meetings scientists said that 20-40 million beetles would be needed for the potato fields of Britain. Field trials started in 1943 by dropping beetles from planes in their own country – resulting in a major outbreak in Southern Germany (how stupid is that !). By 1944 the scientists had stockpiled these millions and were ready for an attack.

 

There is no evidence that the attacks took place, except a report from the Isle of Wight where children were supposedly put to work secretly to round up beetles and put them into boiling water.

 

But Britain had already been concerned about a beetle attack. In 1941 the British Prime Minister received an official warning from the head of the biological warfare programme that the beetle was going to be used by the Germans (before they thought about it!). Churchill ordered beetles to be flown in from the USA. This shipment was intercepted by the Germans in 1942, who interpreted this as evidence of offensive preparations by Britain and started developing their own insect army – a self fulfilling prophecy!

 

Long after World War II had ended and given birth to the Cold War between the Russians and Americans, accusations carried on regarding the beetle. East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland regularly accused America of trying to starve their countries by seeding them with the beetle. East European newspapers and TV showed beetle containers being dropped from the sky by parachutes and the beetle was renamed Amikafer (American beetle). The British accused the Russians of using the beetle in 1969 in a Geneva conference of nations. A United Nations report was made – which, predictably gave no answers. In 1999 the Russians accused the Americans of secretly releasing beetles in their country.

 

I wonder how many countries are readying for the next wave of hostilities and which insects are now the focus of attention.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Creative weapons

India has been so unsuccessful in producing its own weapons of war that I am surprised that we do not start looking for innovative ways to keep our neighbours at bay. We have Pakistan and China’s incursions on one side, Bangladeshis pouring in relentlessly into our border districts, Maoists coming through Nepal, insurgents in our northeast going in and out of Myanmar. It is perhaps time to look at uniquely Indian Ayurvedic solutions, rather than foreign allopathic ones, to defend our borders.

 

In 2002 the Defence Ministry funded a study of ancient texts to identify which natural substances could be used as chemical weapons. I would love to see the study and know whether it is ongoing.

 

In the 5th century a Greek physician named Ctesias described a poison from India that was so potent that a tiny drop could kill a man. For 700 years the Romans and Greeks tried to find this poison, said to be used by the kings of India for suicide or assassination. The idea was for Roman archers to use it. It was thought that the poison came from the droppings of a tiny Himalayan bird called Dikairon, the size of a large grape. The search went on for centuries. No one ever found the bird, but in the 20th century scientists discovered the Paederus beetle which matched the description of the Dikairon. This beetle harbours a bacteria called Pederin which is more powerful than the venom of the black widow spider and the cobra. These black and orange beetles are found in North India and some of them can fly. Heavy rains trigger off mass breeding.

 

The Chinese have known about the Paederus beetles for centuries. They used its secretions to kill ringworm and to remove tattoos! Even though Paederus beetles do not bite or sting, pederin, a toxin mainly found in the females, is released when the beetle is crushed, even partially, against the skin. Within 12–36 hours a reddish rash appears which develops into blisters. Irritation, crusting and scaling may last from two to three weeks and spread to other parts of the body. In the villages of India, they steer clear of the insect because coming into contact with its secretions, while killing it, causes pus filled sores that take months to heal and are extremely painful. In fact, less than a hundred thousandth of a gram can put a person out of commission for a long time tending to his skin. Eating the beetle leads to severe and lethal internal injuries. If injected into the bloodstream Pederin is fatal.

 

Paederusspecies are brightly coloured with metallic blue- or green-coloured or bright orange/red elytra. A paper in the magazine Lancet in 2002 suggested that a Paederus species could have been responsible for one of the ten Plagues of Egypt described in the Bible’s Book of Exodus – the plague of boils. Various outbreaks of dermatitis attributed to the Paederus beetle have been reported in Turkey, Africa, Japan and of course India.

 

Is the beetle the only insect that can be used as a weapon. There is the Bullet Ant Paraponera clavata found in Central America. Each ant is about 0.7 to 1.2 inches long and resembles a stout, reddish-black, wingless wasp. The pain caused by this insect's sting is the most painful in the world according to the Schimdt Sting Pain Index. According to victims, the pain which continues for 24 hours is equal to being shot, hence the name of the insect. The sting contains a paralyzing neurotoxin called poneratoxin. A tribe in Brazil uses the ants as a manhood rite where the boy slips an ant filled glove onto his hand for 10 minutes. When finished, the boy's hand and part of his arm are temporarily paralysed and he may shake uncontrollably for days.

 

The Japanese Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica) could be another candidate for war games. The size of your thumb, it can spray flesh-melting poison. The poison also has a pheromone that calls every hornet in the hive to come and sting you. How powerful are they? Thirty Vespa japonica hornets can tear open the beehives of 30,000 bees and kill them all.

 

Africanized Honey Bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) are an invention of a mad scientist who crossed European bees with African ones. Found in South and North America, this species swarms by the hundreds of millions, is insanely territorial, mindlessly aggressive, and has killed a few thousand people. It can live in the jungle or the desert.

 

The Army or Soldier Ant (Eciton burchellii) lives in the Amazon Basin but has subfamilies living in Asia and Africa. Each ant is half-inch in length with massive, powerful, machete-like jaws, half the length of the soldiers ants themselves. They're called 'Army' ants because their entire colony, up to one million insects, is a mobile battalion. They don't make permanent nests like other ants. They stay temporarily down in single locations just long enough for the queen to lay her eggs while the soldiers spread out in search of food, killing and dismembering every living thing on the way. There are reports of animals the size of horses being shredded by them. For the good of the colony, the ants will use their own bodies to build any structure necessary, latching on to each other to create protective walls and ceilings against the ravages of the weather, bridges and boats.

 

The Bot Fly (Oestridae) has dozens of varieties. Each one has a specific target and is named after it , e.g. Horse Stomach Bot Fly, Sheep Nose Bot Fly. One of them is called Human Bot Fly.

 

Horse Stomach Bots, for example, lay their eggs in grass. Horses eat the grass and the eggs. These hatch in the mouth, chew through the tongue and burrow into the belly. When they're ready to be flies, they enter the intestine and are thrown out with the faeces. The Human Bot Fly lays its eggs on a horsefly or a mosquito. This lands on a human. The eggs rub off on the human, whose body heat hatches the eggs. The larvae drop onto the skin and burrow right in and start eating the flesh.

 

There are Kissing Bugs that spread Chagas, Fleas for Bubonic plague, Fire and Driver Ants to eat you up. And if all else fails, there is the one insect that has caused more deaths than all the wars in the world – the mosquito.

 

An invading force that had these insects to deal with would make a very fast retreat. For years the Russians, Japanese, Germans, French, Americans and British have been experimenting on how to use insects as defensive or offensive weapons. Should we not think about it?

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Bees, wasps and hornets

A long time ago, I was bitten by a bee on the nape of my neck. My husband immediately ran inside, cut a potato in half and applied it to the sting. It worked to extract the sting and some of the poison but it hurt for days. Once Rajiv, Sonia and the children went on a picnic. One of them threw a stone at a wasp’s nest and they came back with hundreds of stings, ill for days. Luckily none of them was allergic to the poison because people who are allergic can actually die of a single bite.

 

When a bee bites, it dies because its stinger is a part of its abdomen. This is torn away and left inside with the sting. If not extracted, the poison spreads and is very painful.

 

Bees are essential to pollination. Many people eat their honey. Today, the nicotinoid pesticides, which came about in the year 2000, have almost wiped out 70% of the species. I do not know whether our young people have ever even seen bees. So let us go back to a time when they made history.

 

Bees, wasps and hornets were used for centuries as essential weapons of war in battles across Europe. The predecessor of the Gatling machine gun was a windmill like weapon that threw straw beehives at the enemy. Alexander's father Philip was credited with this invention.

 

According to the book “Six Legged Soldiers”, the first time that bees were used in attacks was when man still lived in caves. Warring tribes (when was man ever not in a state of constant warfare) would cut down beehives at night when the creatures were calm and unable to see intruders, cover the hive with mud to prevent them from emerging and then throw the hives into enemy caves. They would burst and the enraged insects would attack the inmates of the caves who could not even run out because the enemy waited there.

 

In the Old Testament of the Bible this is apparently a common tactic. Joshua chapter 24:12 "I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites." In Exodus "and I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before thee."

 

Ancient Nigerian tribes developed a bee cannon. Large horns were made, bees loaded into them and then directed at the enemy.

 

The Mayans had elegant weapons. They built dummy warriors whose heads were made of hollow gourds filled with bees. Invaders were fooled into smashing their heads and beating a hasty retreat.

 

Armies in the Middle East were even cleverer. Experts in pottery, they made special clay containers that attracted these insects who made nests in them. When these had to be used, the containers were plugged with grass and then these grenades were lobbed at the enemy. Seeing the success of the bees, they progressed to using other insects like ants, scorpions.

 

As the cities progressed and wars between city states increased, the ramparts around cities grew and each one became a fortress. Invading armies surrounded the fortress and camped there for weeks and months, stopping food and water and often digging tunnels to get in secretly. In 400 BC Aeneias, the Roman war tactician wrote a book on surviving sieges. He advised the besieged people “to release wasps and bees in the tunnels being dug under their walls, in order to plague their attackers."

 

The Roman army used bees and hornets as an essential part of their expansion programme and Pliny, who was considered the world' s most important naturalist of that time and who wrote completely absurd nonsense about all nature's creatures, declared that it took 27 stings to kill a human. So common was the use of bees as weapons by the Romans that there was a sharp decline in nests during the days of the Roman Empire.

 

Using insects to defend walled cities had, by then, become common practice throughout Europe. In 908 Chester, in England, was attacked by Scandinavians who built tunnels undeterred by boiling oil and rocks. Finally the residents of Chester collected all the beehives in their city and threw them into the tunnels. The attackers fled. 700 years later the Scandinavians tried again in the city of Kissingen and the inhabitants threw beehives at them. The warriors were protected, but their horses panicked and ran. By then all of Europe had picked up this trick. The Germans used bees to drive the Austrians away, the Greek islands used them to drive away pirates, the Hungarians drove away the Turks and so did the Austrians, the Moors drove away the Portuguese. Even nunneries took to using bees to drive away male invaders. In fact, most cities started growing their own beehives and castles in the United Kingdom, especially Scotland, can still be seen with recesses made for beehives.

 

King Richard the Lion Hearted, the absent hero of the Robin Hood story, left England to attack the Muslims and recapture the mystical Holy Grail of Jerusalem. The wars were known as the Crusades. From Lion Hearted his title was changed to Richard the Bee Armed because he used these insects in catapults to mount his assaults.

 

Even naval battles were fought with them. Ship crews as early as 300 BC took bee nests on board and flung them across enemy decks - a practice that lasted till the 16th century.

 

The word bombard, which is used to mean throw a large number of projectiles, comes in fact from the Latin word Bombus which means Buzzing !

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Obesity

I have been on a diet for 2 weeks now and its enough to make anyone grumpy. The fat will not fall off no matter how much food I do not eat. Weekends I do not eat cooked food at all but the fat remains stubbornly in its place.

 

It’s a pity that humans can’t control what their stomachs or small intestines absorb. The fashionable people are all going for bariatric surgery. This cut out or bypasses parts of the stomach or small intestine. The theory is that less intestines means fewer calories absorbed.

 

Animals are much more evolved. It is not surgery but muscles that trigger off how much the intestine absorbs and the cues are given by season, intended action and even certain foods; which means that animals have a thinking intestine – unlike our own sluggish coils.

 

Some animals have intestines that perform amazing tricks. They expand and contract at will. This means that the body can absorb varying quantities of calories from the same food depending on what the animal needs. When they are long and stretched out they have more cells exposed to the food passing over them and so more nutrients can be extracted. When they shrink, the food passes by untouched.

 

For instance, when some birds have to migrate, their intestines increase by 25%, quickly fattening them up for the long journey ahead. As soon as the ideal weight is reached, the intestines shrink down. The same thing happens in fish, frogs, squirrels and mice. Pythons shrink their intestines dramatically and go for months without a meal. Then when the prey is caught they increase dramatically in size, responding to the immediate need.

 

When a person dies the muscles relax and the intestines become 50% longer. Perhaps when we are alive and lead sedentary lives, the muscles of the intestine simply give way and the intestine grows longer and absorbs more food. You know that certain things make you put on weight – some drugs, hormones and even stress – even when you are not eating more. Maybe these make the intestine stretch out. My intestines, I am sure, have reached 100 feet inside me because even when I eat nothing and exercise, not an inch drops off.

 

However, there is another world within us, peopled by strange and wondrous creatures which scientists are just beginning to know. Every human body has planets of creatures within them – three legged viruses and coloured fungi, worms and tailed bacteria, millions of these creatures swarm inside our intestines, feeding and breeding. In fact scientists say that our skin, mouth, teeth and all our organs are so full of tiny creatures that only one in ten cells may actually be human. You are not one person but a super-organism made of many many species.

2-9-2013 

 

 

Microbiologists are just beginning to research on what each one of these residents in our bodies do. Many of them help break down food so that it can be digested and the nutrients absorbed.

 

It turns out that there are two dominant groups of bacteria: Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. And scientists have discovered that fat people have more Firmicutes in their intestines. Thin people have more Bacteroidetes. If fat people lose weight over time in a planned fashion the Firmicutes become less than the Bacteroidetes.

 

When researchers looked at mice they found the same thing. They also found that the faeces of fat mice had less calories in it than the faeces of thin mice. Which led them to believe that Firmicutes are much better at extracting calories from food than Bacteroidetes. That means that when I eat an apple, the thriving Firmicute gang inside me extracts the full hundred calories from it. But when my sister (who is impossibly thin) eats an apple, the Bacteroidetes only take out 50 calories from it.

 

So it’s not just more food and less exercise that drives the increase in weight. It is the animals within us. Now, if someone is reading this and wants to make a lot of money, the way to do it is to make a commercial infusion of either Firmicutes or Bacteroidetes that people can buy and eat and change the balance of their intestinal bacteria. What a simple way to become thinner or fatter.

 

What we are just beginning to learn, animals – or, at least, their bodies which are much more evolved than ours – already know. Horses, turtles, apes - their nutrition and digestion simply does not function unless the microorganisms (bacteria) in their bodies are not balanced properly. So they have to eat fresh leafy greens and partly fermented food simply to feed the animals in their gut. Since humans are basically vegetarian in the make up of their bodies, the vegetables we eat probably nourish the correct balance of bacteria in our bodies. All other food simply unbalances the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes.

 

Antibiotics don’t just kill disease bearing bugs, they also decimate beneficial gut bacteria. In all animal factories - poultry farms, piggeries, rabbit farms etc – antibiotics are given because animals grow fatter with less food. Now you can see the relation – all the bacteria is so unbalanced in the animal’s body that it grows fatter and weighs more when it is killed. But when you eat, all that unbalanced bacteria in its body goes into yours.

 

Is obesity infectious? Nutrition scientists have found that it is: that animals, like chickens, horses, lions and rats, become obese when infected with any one of seven viruses. Which means that weight gain can be spread by microscopic animals. And this is far more likely to happen when you eat animals that have had all the good bacteria taken out of them by greedy animal factory owners.

 

Back to my diet while dreaming of armies of Bacteroidetes led by my knight in shining armour defeating the villainous Firmicutes . Thank you, book Zoobiquity, for this amazing information.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

 

Fear too affect Animals

I have fainted only once in my life – half way through a normal conversation with friends. My husband was so frightened he called my mother and I woke to find my head on her lap. No one has ever figured out why it happened. I have had one panic attack – in which I simply could not breathe – related to losing my passport abroad just before a flight home !

 

A faint is caused when the brain is abruptly deprived of oxygen and blood. One reason is physical: when we stand up too fast, for instance. The cause of the emotionally triggered faint has yet to be discovered – men who faint when their wives are delivering a baby, people who received news of death.

 

Are humans the only species that suffer from such terror that the brain shuts down? No. Animals faint as well. When animals perceive a mortal threat, they are supposed to do two things: fight or run. But they do a third as well: they faint. You know how terror feels: the pounding of the heart, the tightening of the head, the nausea and then the heart suddenly slows down and the blood pressure goes down. The brain shuts the system down by fainting. The same thing happens to the animal.

 

The slowing of the heart induced by fears has been recorded in hundreds of species: rabbits, fawns, guinea pigs, pigs, monkeys, squirrels, mice, alligators and many kinds of fish. Dogs and cats faint when they are restrained against their will, which is a terrifying situation for many animals. Believe it or not, some pets faint when they see injection needles. Wild animals from chimpanzees to owls faint when they see their blood being drawn. Little birds like canaries, quails and robins faint when held. There is a little goat who, when startled, feels such strong panic that its muscles freeze and it collapses on one side. While young goats keel over, older ones learn to spread their legs or lean against something when startled. This species is now known as the fainting goat. They are raised as pets as they are friendly, intelligent, easy to keep, and amusing. They are also raised for meat and faint all the way to the slaughterhouse. Unfortunately while their fainting causes their muscles to freeze up they remain fully conscious. Every year there is a festival in Tennessee, USA, built around the Fainting Goat , in which they are constantly made to faint to amuse the tourists.

Scientists have said there are two types of fainting: Tonic immobility which is an involuntary reflex action when the muscles freeze up. And Thanatosis in which the animal pretends to play dead. Thanatosis is known as “playing dead” or “playing possum “ - animals take on the appearance of being dead to an observer as a form of defence. The most famous is the Virginia Opossum who will curl up and let the tongue hang out to play dead.

 

But there is no doubt that both are caused by terror.

 

The shark may have been painted unfairly to be a threatening creature. In fact it suffers from fainting spells which last upto fifteen minutes. Scientists have experimented that in Tiger sharks, tonic immobility may be achieved by placing one’s hands lightly on the sides of the animal's snout near its eyes. Some fish faint when turned upside down. Predatory fish like Orcas purposely induce tonic immobility in stingrays. They turn themselves upside down before attacking, trap the stingrays in their mouths, then quickly right themselves, flipping the stingray over, inducing tonic immobility and getting an easy meal.

 

Millipedes and lizards also enter this state of immobilizing paralysis when faced with predators. Stress can occur in the lobster by stroking a particular area of a lobster's shell or holding a hen's head to a line drawn in the dirt. One method of fishing is called 'trout tickling' whereby the fish is rubbed on the underbelly until it faints and can be easily thrown onto the bank.

 

Hens in cages rather than pens, hens on the top tier of tiered battery cages, hens carried by hand and hens undergoing longer transportation times faint many times in a day. So would you in similar conditions.

 

The Oscar is an energetic aquarium fish always on the go. But when an oscar gets stressed – for instance from the aquarium being cleaned- they faint . They lose colour, lie on their sides and breathe very slowly. Their fins stop moving. For all intents and purposes they look dead. They come to only when the danger is past.

 

When fire ants are under attack from neighbouring colonies , experience shows. Days-old workers react to aggression by fainting, weeks-old workers responded by fleeing, and months-old workers responded by fighting back.

 

What scientists call death feigning or thanatosis could well be a temporary faint.

 

The opossum may have chosen to faint but it actually is unconscious. The Hog–Nosed Snake rolls onto its back and appears to be dead when threatened by a predator, while a foul-smelling, volatile fluid oozes from its body. Predators, such as cats lose interest in the snake, which looks and smells dead. Newly-hatched young show this behaviour when rats try to eat them. Europe's grass snake goes limp when it is picked up and stays in character even when it is put down. The wasp and the cricket do the same. And so does the Ragdoll cat. Why do some animals act dead when threatened by a predator? The commonly held belief is that many animals, including snakes, bison, chickens, rabbits, and, of course, opossum, act dead to discourage those who would eat them.

Sometimes a faint helps the animal. A duck pursued by baby foxes faints and is avoided by them. Most animals defecate and urinate when fainting and this smell repulses the predator. A slow heart beat in a terrified fawn prevents it from skittering about and alerting the predator and its stillness sometimes saves it. Female robber-flies, who are sometimes seized by a male with the intent of rape, faint. The male loses interest in a lifeless partner and lets go.

 

Building a strong intelligent defence is a trait that is fundamental to all species.

Puffing yourself to look bigger, hiding, screaming, running, fighting with every weapon you have are some standard defences. The body has evolved fainting as another.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Ban Langurs to Run Away Monkeys

Last month  as I passed by the Defence Ministry, I saw people clustered on a sidewalk and I caught a glimpse of a monkey. I stopped and saw three people making two langurs fight with each other. As soon as they saw me, two of the men ran and so did the government employees who were watching this illegal tamasha.

 

The langurs climbed a tree. The remaining man had his pockets searched and, not surprisingly, had a card saying that he was employed by the Defence Ministry to keep rhesus monkeys away. His personal ID card said that his name was Aftab Langoorvala.

 

This is a large Muslim clan who live in Rohini, Delhi. Their only job is to get langurs from the wild and rent them out to various organizations across Delhi – ministries, schools, hotels, malls.  They have, at any given time, over 100 langurs. They are so arrogant that they have named themselves Langoorvala as well, and they travel openly on motorbikes with their langurs on their shoulders

 

I called the police. The security incharge of that wing of the Defence Ministry was called. He clearly did not know the law and tried to defend his recruitment. He was severely reprimanded. The Langoorvala was arrested and remanded to jail under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The langurs are with me and they will be rehabilitated soon back in the forest.

 

You will rarely find a madari in the cities now. Most of them are behind bars or have switched professions ever since the animal laws started being acted on. But in many cities you will find these langoorvalas.  You need to have the person arrested and his employer.

 

According to The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Langur is a protected species under Schedule II and under the IPC Sections 2, 8, 9, 11, 40, 41, 43, 48, 51, 61, and 62. According to these sections, langurs cannot be owned, traded, bought, sold or hired out. Any violation of this law is liable to a 3 year jail term or fine or both.

 

But many government offices are openly breaking the law by hiring such people and even giving ID cards to the so called “owners” of langurs – who are actually poachers who have taken these langurs from forests. I am told that during the Commonwealth Games the civic agencies  deployed 38 Langurs .

 

They are badly fed and kept tied to gates the entire day. They are starved and kept thirsty. They sit in the sun and rain and cold.  Most of these langurs die within a year .The Langurwalas simply get more.

 

Not only is the langur a protected species, it is also becoming increasingly rare.

 

The Langur is a silver grey monkey with a tail longer than its body, a conspicuous black face, long limbs with black hands and feet . It has a coughing alarm call.

 

Langurs live in troops that vary from 8 - 20 animals, and are lead by a dominant male. All male groups are also a common feature.

 

They generally have a favourite roosting tree, to which the animals retire at the end of the day. The monkeys huddle together and prefer to squat on the extremities of high branches, as a precautionary measure against predators. They are extremely arboreal – which means, that unlike rhesus monkeys, they do not like to come down from the trees at all. They feed in the morning and late afternoon and groom each other in between. Morning is greeted with loud whooping calls and a display of high spirits.

 

Females attain sexual maturity (3-4 years) earlier than males (6-7 years). The young are born after a gestation period of 6 months. The mothers usually have one child, and the arrival of the early ones in a troop causes much excitement, with females of all age groups vying with each other to touch and handle the new born. The mother readily allows this and the infant gets passed on from hand to hand. The young are carried upside down clasped to their mother's belly. By three months they start wandering around and that is when they get picked off by poachers. Any adult who intervenes, responding to the cries of the babies is beaten with sticks or killed.

 

The species has suffered tremendously due to habitat degradation They have to come down to the road and sometimes enter human habitation looking for food, making them vulnerable to accidental death while crossing the road. They are eaten by leopards, dholes, wolves, jackals and pythons. Poaching, and attacks by dogs are also on the rise.

 

Langurs eat leaves, flowers, fruits and berries. They obtain salt, mineral and trace elements by licking rocks, termite mounds and salt licks. This animal is now fed rotis and whatever rubbish passersby give it.

 

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has sent a letter on October 15th to all government departments saying that they cannot hire langurs and that any in service have to be removed immediately. The Bureau has written that “For any violation, besides the handler, the officer of the Ministry responsible for hiring the services of the animal will be deemed to have contravened the provision of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and will be liable for prosecution under Section 52 of the Act.” The letter adds: “It is therefore requested that langurs if hired by your Ministry should be removed from their service immediately and the animals be handed over to the Chief Wildlife Warden of the Government of NCT.”

 

Langurs are as protected as bears and tigers.  Can anyone bring tigers or snakes and get “employment” by the government or private companies for domestic or security purposes?

 

The Wildlife Crime Bureau has now started raiding these Langoorvala families. Many of them are now on the run as criminals and the animals have been confiscated. I have caught 8 langurvalas myself and the court has sent all of them to jail under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which means that the court is well aware, as are the police, that this is a crime under the Indian laws.

 

Now you know the law. If you see any langur tied in a temple, factory, educational institution, mela or any government building call the police and the wildlife authorities and make sure that arrests are made. Take the langur. Ask the langurvala where he got the animal from so that it can be returned to its forest otherwise it will die.

 

The Hanuman Langur is a representative of the god Hanuman. Is this the shameful way in which we use our gods?

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

 

Adopt a Grown Up Dog

If you’re ready to adopt a pet, you probably have your heart set on finding a puppy or young dog. Puppies are unquestionably adorable, they have their whole life ahead of them to be your loving companion and you get the chance to be a parent as well as a dog owner.

 

But it would be so much better if you adopted an adult dog. For every puppy that comes to a shelter, at least 20 adult dogs will be abandoned. In India, few shelters kill abandoned dogs. But they lead miserable lives – most will not be fed properly, will get a disease, will be locked inside a kennel – and die quickly. In America 60% of the 7 million dogs and cats that are abandoned every year are killed (euthanized) because they are not adopted.

 

The truth is that any of the pets at the shelter could be your perfect companion. With older dogs, you won’t have to deal with housebreaking your pet or dealing with the chewing phase either. Senior dogs can be great for families with kids, because they are often gentle, or for more sedentary lifestyles, because they are not likely to need as much exercise.

 

One reason many people don’t adopt ill or injured dogs is fear. They think the dog won’t live long or that it will be a lot of trouble to take care of or that they have been abandoned because they are “bad” dogs.

 

In fact less than 1% of abandoned dogs have been thrown out because they are badly behaved. I know a great “dog lover” in Kolkata who waited till his mother died and then dumped her beloved thirty dogs all over Kolkata. Most abandoned dogs are the victims of divorce, illness, allergies, a new baby, inexperienced owners, a change of city that didn't include them, kids leaving and because they got old. Some of them have been injured in accidents by careless owners or have been allowed to get ticks, fleas or mange and then abandoned when the owner cannot cope.

 

These dogs will love you more than ever if you love them and rescue them. You can help these dogs get better or cope with their injuries or disabilities. Most will end up being completely healthy pets after your intervention. Shelter animals can make wonderful, life-long companions if only given the chance. Animals who would like nothing more a second chance at a happy life and their own human family.

 

If the dog has been abandoned because he/she has a behaviour problem , this probably means it has been abused or neglected along the way. They can be easily retrained with a little effort and love.

 

You save money as well. Shelter pets are far less expensive than those you would find at the illegal breeders and pet shops. Animals in shelters are checked, vaccinated, de-wormed, and spay/neuter surgery is usually included. You get a free dog as well as the gratitude of the shelter and its support and guidance if you have questions.

 

Not only do you save a life, but you also combat pet over-population. No new puppies have to be born in order for you to get a pet. The sad thing is that while breeders are producing puppies for the rich, there are thousands that are becoming homeless by the day. There are far too many homeless pets than there are loving homes to care for them. When you adopt a shelter dog, you free up the money and staff of the shelter to look after another needy animal waiting to be adopted.

 

Think about it : a pet that is already trained and doesn’t chew or scratch everything in sight — a pet who will love and understand you immediately. I have 24 dogs in my house, all of them were adults when they came in, and all of them had been abandoned in the shelter. I took only the badly behaved ones and the ones that had been beaten day in and day out. Not one of them has been less than perfectly behaved. Julie is our latest addition : she is a large Spitz who was thrown out because she jumped on every visitor to greet them. She has stopped doing that here and has become a great friend and shadow of the cook. Anyone who has ever lived with a senior pet will tell you that living with a senior dog or cat (I wish I could have both) is one of the most rewarding relationships they have ever had; their amazing comprehension of your tone and body language. Seniors manage to be grateful, protective and as eager to please as when they were pups. At the same time, they are silly and sweet and heartbreakingly loyal.

 

Adopting a senior pet is like fast forwarding to the best part. Past the destructive puppyhood, the piddle all over the house, the chewed up shoes, the unending exercise, rain or shine. You just get to be the hero you always wanted to be to the cat or dog that just wants to spend its days sitting in the sun and lying by your side. It's amazing how they just fit in.

 

Senior animals that are dumped in a shelter are like old people who have been taken to a country where they do not speak the language. They have no idea where they are or why their people would do that to them. They can't express to the people in the shelter all of the things they know, what they have learned over the years. They can't let a potential adopter know that all they want is a place on the floor by your feet, or a nice cushion on the couch and some food and an occasional tubby rub. They did nothing wrong. They aren't sick, they have many years left and they don't need much.

 

So, if you can save an adult, it is so important, and so easy. And it's an honourable and generous way to save a very loving companion from a confusing and a horribly frightening situation they don't deserve.

 

Maneka Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Animal Police

Some years ago I wrote about animal rights people who had been elected to the Dutch Parliament. The Party for the Animals is the first of its kind in the world and it is a vocal presence in the halls of power. It first entered Parliament in 2006, and now holds two of the 150 seats in the Dutch House of Representatives; one seat in the Dutch Senate, and nine seats in eight provincial governments. Its chairperson is Marianne Thieme.

 

Now they have achieved another milestone – and I am so jealous, I could cry. The Dutch government has decided that there will be a special police force of 500 officers on the streets protecting the rights and welfare of animals.

 

For once television has had a good effect. The idea came from the channel Animal Planet and the show is “Animal Cops.” "Animal Cops" chronicles the work of animal welfare officers in different US cities.

 

Within a short time the animal rights political party has become amazingly powerful – and that too in a country that eats mainly meat and cheese. They proposed the idea but it has been brought to be by Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV), a rightist party led by one of Europe’s most well known and outspoken politicians.

 

When the gods want something to happen, everything falls into line. The Party for Freedom is part of the Dutch coalition in government. 3000 officers were slated to be cut from the police force. The Party for Animals suggested that the country needed animal police. A PVV Member of Parliament called Dion Graus, who had once held a job selling veterinary products, pushed his own party to agree. Geert Wilders then decided that 500 of these policemen should be retrained and made into animal police. Working on animal welfare issues.

 

The new "animal police" will be regular police officers, with the same powers, but with special training. The first 100 should be in place by the end of the year. Let us hope they don’t just protect the rights of pets or cruelty on them. What is needed is to look at the keeping of livestock, transport of animals for meat and the cruelties in slaughterhouses.

 

The Dutch police chiefs' organization is taking the new force seriously. "It has a public demand, and it has a political demand, so we don't make fun of it," said spokesperson Jelle Egas.

 

Until now, most animal cruelty cases in Holland have been investigated by a private entity, the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals. Founded in 1865, the organization has more than 200,000 members and employs 14 full-time investigators. Along with 150 volunteers, the investigators are dispatched on 8,000 calls a year.

 

The SPCA is delighted with the move but says that the next logical step would be to change the laws so judges can more easily sentence animal offenders for their crimes. This step is likely to find support, as 60 percent of Dutch people rank animal welfare as an important issue. Are animal police going to be found in other countries? 74 % of readers surveyed by a German newspaper thought Germany should have animal cops, too.

 

Please God, let me be alive when India gets them. So much cruelty on the roads: overloaded bullocks who fall down and die from carrying 2 tonnes of weight; dogs locked up in balconies in the rain and heat; cats poisoned by neighbours; slaughterhouses that hammer calves to death; trucks that carry 50 cows and buffaloes jammed and crushed together so that half die on arrival; sharks that have their fins cut off at sea while they are alive; cock, goat and bullfights; races with cows and horses tied together and made to run for 10 kilometres; animal sacrifices in temples; elephants that are made to beg and parade in the heat; old animals that are thrown out on the streets when they get ill; mongoose and snake fights; monkey dances and langurs made into watchmen….The list is endless.

 

None of this cruelty would be possible if we had good policemen. But the police are not just useless. Many of them take money from the criminals and allow these heinous crimes to take place – especially in the transport of animals and in illegal slaughter. By law we should have SPCAs (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in every district. In fact they exist nowhere except Delhi where the entire lot of so called inspectors are in league with the illegal transporters and take a monthly “hafta” from them. They have not done a single cruelty case in 30 years because they never go to work during the day. They come at night to escort the overloaded trucks to slaughter. They exist in Chennai where till recently they were selling confiscated cows back to the illegal butchers.

 

And the wildlife inspectors? Delhi, with a population of 2 crores, has 6. Of these, half have been suspended several times for selling wild animals. Most districts have a District Forest officer and a couple of rangers. They do no work. The DFOs in Meerut supervise India’s largest illegal bird market and take haftas.

 

We have tried to educate the police about the laws. Many of our people have been to the police academies. I have written a booklet for training which is used at the Andhra Police Academy, but until the government takes cruelty seriously and realises that animal crime is huge and closely related to crime on people and terrorism, India will continue on the downslide.

 

If we could simply have animal police, it would solve so many people problems. If the Netherlands can do it, India with its tradition of compassion should be able to do so quite easily.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

 

Useful gadgets

I had written earlier about some insane gadgets on the market for dogs and cats. Here are some more. These are slightly more sensible and I am sure the Indian inventor can modify them to be useful in our context:

 

*Going on a long drive with a pet ? Take the CarBowls, a water bowl with a splash preventing rim and a bottom bowl for snacks . These bowls snap together and can fit into the Car cup holder.

 

*Do you want to let the dog out when it is raining, or it is really hot or really cold? Get a makeshift bathroom in the balcony or the verandah. Its an automated, 8 sq.ft. turf or synthetic grass litter box for dogs with a metal frame. It includes a nifty 14 ft. drainage hose that can be directed to your floor drain, or even a nearby gutter. It can be washed easily.

 

*If your pet wanders off, an alarm sounds to let you know. A tag is attached to the pet’s collar and the main unit shows which direction to head to collect the pet. It has a 600 ft range.

 

*Acat litter which is not only biodegradable, but acts as an illness detection and odour eliminator. The litter actually changes colour if your cat has any sign of urinary stone or kidney problems, bladder infection, or liver disease.

 

*Some pets have a habit of chewing on electrical cords. Make your home electrical cords, puppy or rabbit proof. Make cord protectors. The clear tubing slips over the electrical cord to provide a protective layer. They are heavy-gauge, so they resist even the most determined chewer. They are also infused with citrus scent and a bitter taste that won’t wash away that should make the cords less attractive to your pet.

 

*Microchips that can be injected into your pet to find him if he gets lost or stolen.

 

*Birds need a lot of amusement. A solid hardwood playground with swings and perches and arches for small birds assembles in minutes and has a washable laminate base for easy cleanup.

 

* A bell collar for cats that roam outside. It will warn birds off but it will also limit their ability to catch mice.

 

* Do you have a pet who will not take his medicine. Get Pillpockets, small natural treats for cats and dogs with built in pouches where a tablet/capsule/liquid medication can be hidden. The treats mask the smell and taste of medicine to make sure your cat/dog takes his medicine successfully.

 

*A water-cooler unit which automatically fills a pet bowl, located at the base, with cool, clean water. This will make it possible for you to take short trips away from home without worrying about whether someone is refilling the water bowl.

 

*You can do it with food as well, specially if you live alone with your pet and need to travel. An automatic pet feeder gives 1-2 cups of food at 3 selected times a day. By selecting the portion sizes and dispensing frequency, you can ensure that your pet will not starve or overeat. But remember: you should always ask someone to check in on your pet, even if it’s just for companionship and exercise.

 

*Have your neighbours complained that your dog’s barking has driven them mad. There is an electronic gadget which trains your dog to stop barking using advanced microphone and ultrasonic technology. The sound of a dog barking causes this device to sound an alarm at a frequency that only dogs can hear, deterring them from making noise.

 

*Pets are largely sedentary. So their nails which would have been naturally cut by running. But now they have to be cut manually and this is risky because it is difficult to tell where the nail stops and the blood vessels begins. This nail clipper’s red, yellow, and green lights help you know when it’s not safe to cut, when to proceed with caution, and when it’s safe to clip. If you don’t want to spend money on a professional groomer, but feel nervous about taking matters in to your own hands, these clippers might prove useful.

 

* As a dog owner whose dogs regularly climb on sofas when they think no one is looking , this is something that I wish I had used. A shock mat that you can put onto sofas and chairs which gives a mild and harmless shock to animals who climb on it. Soon they get out of the habit. Much better than shouting in front of guests!

 

* If shocking is too strong for you, try a vibration pet trainer. This sits on any surface, a sofa, bed counter, hood of a car and detects vibrations. The smallest of pawsteps will set off its alarm scaring the animal away. You can even hang it from tables that your pets like scratching.

 

*Having problems brushing your dog. Try a Groom tool: claws that comb and a suction that sucks away the hair.

Cats need scratching posts to keep their nails healthy. If you don’t provide one, you will lose your furniture. But to divert a cat from furniture to a post you have to be tricky. A unique scratching post for felines is a 14-inch-high bark-covered cedar log, and suspended from it are a mouse stuffed with catnip and a ball that the cat can poke at.

 

*Do your dog’s ear fall into his food and water? To solve a problem that has been a nuisance to hounds, try dog snoods. A snood is simply a long tube which can be made from a long piece of rectangular stretchy material sewn together at the edge. Measure your dog’s neck to find out how long your rectangle should be and sew or even add other fastening devices such as buttons to make it easier to take on and off. Put it on him before mealtimes so that the ears are kept in.

 

I have taken days to find these gadgets. In the process I have found so many more insane ones that I will write about them again. I thought the only crazies in the world were the ones that rang up my office. But obviously, the world is full of them . Who is crazier – the people who make them or the ones that buy them ?

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

 

Man's Best Friend

Dogs are not just companions and friends. They can teach you so many lessons that help you lead a happier life – if you would only care to learn them.

 

Here are some of them:

 

You come home after a long day and the first person to greet you is your dog who shows such extreme happiness that you immediately feel better. Imagine if you greeted your family members like that – how good all of you would feel. Imagine if you gave everyone you met a warm welcome and made them feel as if they were the most important people in the world. You would have the world at your feet. We are glad to see dogs because they are glad to see us. Whether we left the house five hours ago or five minutes ago, they are over-the-moon thrilled to be reunited with us. In our human-to-human interactions we frequently fail to let those close to us know how much we care for them. I like you, you make me happy – a simple thought like this can make a friend forever.

 

Dogs are non judgemental. They love you whether you are the richest person on earth or a drug addicted vagrant living under a bridge. One of the reasons why celebrities keep dogs is because they are extremely insecure about their current friends. If you were to show unconditional, honest affection without judgement, you would go a long way as well. Treat your loved ones even better than they deserve and they will turn into the people you need them to be. The boost I get from my dog's adoration reminds me to give that gift to others.

 

Have you ever stepped on your dogs’ paw, smacked them for some minor transgression, yelled at them because they came to be scratched and you were busy, or told them to get out of the room because you had guests? They look at you all sad eyed and unhappy, and then five minutes later when you are nice to them they are all sunshine again, all grudges forgotten. I have a dog called Devi who is so overeager in her affection and so possessive that I often get very cross with her. She takes it for as long as she can and then one day stops eating her food till I pat her and then everything is alright again. Learn to forgive and forget. Carrying anger or pain in your heart will not make anything better.
A dog lives each day as if it is his last. He loves, cuddles, eats, plays, guards, works, fights, exercises, sleeps with enthusiasm and determination He savours every single day and finds new ways to amuse himself. See if you can do the same. You have a short life. Enjoy every bit of it, including the bad parts.

 

Go for walks and enjoy them. You can take a dog on the same route every day and every single day he will get as enthusiastic and walk along as if he has just discovered the world. Instead of "Oh, no! Not the same walk, with the same companion, and meeting the same set of acquaintances! It's so boring! Can't we do something different?" If you were as eager, you would be a lot fitter and far more aware of the earth.

 

Take a nap whenever you can. Dogs fall asleep at the drop of a hat and are instantly alert within seconds. If you learnt to take short naps, your brain would be working better as well. This artificial construct of having to be awake the entire day and asleep the entire night is not good for your body or mind. Life has to be taken a few hours at a time. You can only fall asleep if you are relaxed, so, no matter what the situation, it is not going to get better if you tense up. So relax.

 

Be a hero every chance you can get. Save people from impossible situations, care for the weak, stand up for those who need rescuing, protect the helpless. Even if you are physically a Chihuahua, you can defeat the odds by the sheer size of your courage. A story goes that when Alexander was overwhelmed by the army of Persia’s Darius III in 333 BC during the battle of Gaugamela, his dog Peritas leapt up and bit the lip of an elephant leading a charge against his master. The elephant reared up and the tide changed. Alexander went on to conquer half the world and earn the epithet The Great.

 

How can you tell who loves you more; your wife or your dog? Lock them both in the trunk of your car for three hours and see who kisses you when you open the trunk. It’s always more fun to give than take, love than be loved. So love unconditionally – instead of making deals with other people and trading emotions like commodities (He is mean so I won’t talk , my mother loves my sister more so I will love her less…). Be in love with the idea of love and see what fun you have.

 

Everyday you give your dog the same food and everyday he looks forward to it. He doesn’t complain. Food may be important to him but not so important that would act as a mood changer. Contrast that with the endless complaining you or your family does on the quality and variety of food. Eat to live not live to eat.

 

Show love in big and small ways. From laying their heads on our laps while we watch a movie to barking wildly and running in circles when we take them out, dogs let us know we are loved every single day. Why not be more demonstrative?

 

There are so many other animals we keep as pets: cats, hamsters, rabbits, fish, mice. Why is the dog considered man’s best friend and not the others? Logically we should consider monkeys and apes, who are genetically so close to us, as our best friends. Why the dog? Perhaps the give and take in our relationship, the lessons the dog teaches us on living life makes the dog indispensable to us.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Can we win?

I was in Turkey recently to speak at a workshop called by the Dutch Party for Animals. The purpose of it was to get together all the animal-centric political parties and compare experiences. The Dutch Party for Animals has several members of Parliament and members of the state assemblies.

 

The mood was optimistic. If people could vote for animal welfare, then the world was surely going towards goodness. But the most interesting and true statement came from a major philosopher of animal rights, the Canadian Will Kymlicka, who replied to the statement that we were winning because people were learning how to make alternatives to animal use in every field – alternative fur, meat or, experimentation models. He said “let us not forget that there are thousands of young, inventive minds that are working at newer and newer ways to use animals as well. And they are far ahead of us because the human being is an easily bored creature and he needs newer and newer toys and types of food.”

 

So true. My hotel room’s only English channel was a Japanese one and I watched a programme on innovations in fish eating. Captive fish are fed lemons and strawberries so that their flesh, when eaten raw in sushi, tastes of fruit rather than fish. Shrimp are being cooked in a way that even after boiling they are still alive when they reach the diner’s table. On the plane back I scolded a woman who was talking loudly about her sealskin bedroom slippers. Seal babies are killed by hunters being hammered on the head with pickaxes. Her defence was that she was helping the “farmers” by buying their product.

 

Everyday I read about newer ways in which animals are being misused.

 

The United States is experimenting on cockroaches and beetles to see if they can make them spy machines. Their antennae are cut off and replaced with electrical wires to relay sounds. An antenna is a sensitive limb – imagine cutting off both your arms and having them replaced with robot arms.

 

There are 110 billion landmines in the ground, spread over 70 countries. India is one of these countries with thousands of landmines in border areas. They block access to land for farmers and shepherds and, long after the wars have ended, the mines remain. Removing them is a problem because they explode easily, killing or maiming the remover.

 

So what is being done to get landmines out of the ground? Traditionally, they were found using metal detectors carried by workers or machines. This method failed to detect plastic mines. The UN reports that for “every 5000 mines cleared, one worker is killed and two injured by accidental explosions. So, of course animals have now been chosen as mine finders.  The Anti-Personnel Landmine Detection Product Development of Belgium, is using African Giant Pouched Rats. Since starting the project in 2010, these animals have found 861 landmines, 1 cluster bomb and 6,216 small arms and ammunitions. The rats are taught to respond to the smell of TNT. How are they trained? By nature , when passing over a hole, these naturally curious creatures will always pause to sniff the contents. Taking advantage of this, the trainers place TNT in some holes. When the rats pause over the holes containing TNT, a clicker, is sounded and food given as a reward.  Any other pause is ignored. The result is that when the rats walk through a mine field, they pause for five seconds only when they smell TNT, making it easy for people to map out where all the mines are located. How many rats have died so far? Who cares.

 

Life on earth is nasty, brutish and short – for all of us. The dominant genes of the human accentuate nastiness to such an extreme that people who do good, especially for other species, are seen as idealistic oddities or crackpots, instead of as role models. From the time they are children; clever young people have respect for all other animals laughed out of them. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a famous oil painting by Annibale Carracci, a 16th century Italian artist. Titled Two Children Teasing a Cat, the painting portrays a smiling boy, a young girl, and a cat. The boy holds the cat with one hand and has a large crayfish in the other.  He has provoked the crayfish into clamping one of its massive claws onto one of the cat’s ears. The little girl smiles in delight.

 

This glorification of wanton cruelty in children is what leads to a food specialist designing ways in which to boil animals so that they remain alive till they are eaten.  Childhood animal abuse is surprisingly common. A review of two dozen research reports finds that 35% of violent offenders had been animal abusers when they were kids – but so had 37% of non criminal men. I see perfectly normal people throw stones or shoot airgun pellets at neighbours’ dogs. Recently, a doctor in Agra set fire to 10 puppies.

 

A so called scientist hides his viciousness by calling his work “science”. I know one researcher who has killed hundreds of animals in order to prove that animals that are asleep are not awake.

 

In order to show the behaviour of “ normal” young humans and diagnose the relationship between animal abuse and personality characteristics such as narcissism, psychopathy (a trait characterized by selfishness, lack of remorse, and impulsivity) and sadism, researchers at the University of British Columbia constructed an insect crunching machine. The bug-cruncher was a modified coffee grinder with a tube attached to the top where you could drop live insects. When it was dumped into the machine, the device would make a gruesome crunching sound. The animals used in the study were three pill bugs named Muffin, Tootsie, and Ike. Pill bugs are coffee bean sized and more related to lobsters than true insects. Sometimes called roly-polis, they are cute and sometimes even kept as pets. To enhance their likability, each bug was placed in a individual cup labelled with its name. (In reality the animals were not killed because they went into a holding area just above the blades – but the students did not know that)

 

After being told the researchers were studying “personality and tolerance for challenging jobs,” the college student participants completed questionnaires. They were then told they had to conduct one of four noxious tasks. They either could kill live bugs by dropping them into the crunching machine, or help the experimenter kill bugs, clean a dirty toilet, or place their hand in ice cold water. If a subject chose to kill bugs, they had to actually drop at least one of the bugs into the cruncher. At the end of the experiment, the participants were asked to rate how much pleasure they got from participating in the study.

 

27% of these “normal” people chose to kill Muffin, Tootsie, or Ike by personally dropping them into the crusher. Another 27% chose to help the experimenter kill the bugs.  Further, the bug killers could either stop at Muffin, or they could also, for kicks, toss Ike and/or Tootsie into the machine. The researchers found that a large percentage chose to put in the other bugs as well. Did they like what they did? Yes, they answered.

 

These are the clever young people who find new ways in which to use animals every day. Can people like me win against them? I doubt it.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org
 

Article from Smt. Maneka Gandhi

Every weekmy hospital gets a white horse that has been hit by a truck or has gone so lame that she cannot walk at all any more. When my doctors check them we find that most of them are partially deaf and blind. Most of them die of their wounds and dehydration within a few days.

 

These are the “marriage horses.” People in the business own several dozen each and they are kept outside the city. When they are rented for marriages, they are walked more than 30-50 kilometres to the venue: a trek that starts early morning and lasts the whole day. By evening they have reached the baraat headquarters and stand around for several hours till the groom and his party are ready to leave. The horse is “dressed”. The saddle on the horse is a heavy throne like chair and around its forehead are tied all sorts of decorations that hang over, and get into, its eyes. The groom, who has never seen a horse before, sits on her with his nephew and then the band starts at a decibel level that makes even passing humans hold their ears. The horse handler holds the horse’s mouth-bit so tightly, to prevent her from rearing at the noise and fireworks, that the iron chain in her mouth destroys her teeth and makes her gums bleed. All around her are fire-lit lanterns that generate heat. In front of the horse dance various relatives and friends, who constantly tug at the groom to shower him with small notes of money, further unbalancing him. The horse is walked for another several kilometres in a slow and extremely noisy parade and then finally, when the groom dismounts, she is taken to another wedding. By2 a.m.the functions are over and the horse is walked back to its owner outside the city. A few hours rest and feeding and then the trek starts again. Drunken late-night truckers often hit the horse on her homeward journey. Some just collapse with exhaustion. Some of them die on the spot. Some are left there to die if they have broken their legs. Some are brought to my hospital.

 

There are two kinds of marriage horses. Some are racehorses that have been kept in great comfort till they start losing races and are then sold down the line to smaller and smaller racecourses till they end up in the hands of the marriage horse suppliers. They go from good food and clean stalls to bad food and being tied up on the side of the road in a village, in the sun, rain and cold. The others are inbred because of their white colour and the females are made to have children again and again till they die of exhaustion, so that there are enough white horses to take over. Both have a terribly sad and short life.

 

Why are we doing this to this noble animal? People are ignorant of the origin of the horse at marriages and so they carry on this ridiculous custom without understanding the meaning behind it. A few hundred years ago, women were often kidnapped at the marriage itself by dacoits or members of a rival clan who would appear on horses. Many horses were kept at the marriage venue to chase the kidnappers. From there originates this lunacy that makes the bottoms of urbanized young bridegroom so sore that they probably give the wedding night a miss and put soothing balms on their buttocks instead. This is not a prince that is coming to claim his princess – this is a silly young man overdressed in silks and jewels with a lampshade on his head and garland of money around his neck, pretending he is a kidnapper about to do the unspeakable act of taking a young girl against her will and holding her to ransom.

 

There are so many other explanations that are as gross. The horse is always a mare. While the actual reason a mare is chosen is because she is easier to handle round the year than a male, who might get temperamental during the heat season, the use of a mare and not a horse suggests the groom’s intention to domesticate the wife and to ride her for the rest of their married life.

 

In the Shrimali Brahmin community, the girls ride on horses in the same way as the grooms do. The significance is that they are equal in the marriage. Either way, it is the horse that is punished. In some communities the mare's hair is plaited with sacred thread or 'mouli' and the groom's sisters feed her with Bengal gram, which has been soaked in water the night before, or with gur and atta. The horse will definitely get colic from this fermented besan or gur which is the worst thing that can happen to a horse and which kills many.

 

How inauspicious to start a marriage with a torture of a poor female animal; hunger, dehydration, fatigue, noise, and physical pain. The agony of the horse is clearly shown in the enlarged eyes and wild spin of its eyeballs and the ears held erect – both of which only happen when the horse is extremely distressed. Horses are extremely allergic to noise, fire, hundreds of people crowding them and walking long distances on tarred roads. There are thirty thousand weddings a day during the Delhi wedding season alone. There are about 300 horses. Do the math. In Mumbai, the horses are kept in Kamathipura in South Mumbai and taken to outer Mumbai, easily 60 km away every day.

 

What a horrible and outdated way to ruin the baraat tradition; to abuse a horse when you could have gone safely and happily in a car. I am going to ask animal welfare people to intercede in the baraat and call policemen in on the grounds of cruelty. Imagine your bridal parade disrupted by people confiscating the bridegroom’s mount. He would look even sillier then.

 

Horses are thinking sentient beings. Many terrible customs have ended in India – sati (which presumed that a woman had value only if her husband lived), thuggee (now refined to bribes and white collar crime), animal sacrifice. It is now time for sensible people to call for ending this hideous and vulgar practice. Or let the bride go to the groom’s house in a palanquin carried by her brothers; an authentic and beautiful marriage tradition.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org
 

Article From Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

The more irrelevant members of erstwhile royal families get, the more they overcompensate in their rituals. Desperate to keep themselves in positions of some authority they endorse terrible rituals like animal sacrifice – only because they have to make the first kill in front of an audience proving their proximity to the gods. They go into politics, conducting their campaigns like Englishmen on howdahs being kind to the natives. They rent out their palaces as hotels and turn into hotel managers by day and maharajas by night. And they are at their worst when it comes to their opulent, over the top, garish weddings. Every leftover of every royal family comes with a turban, sword and grandfather’s jewellery. They are so insecure about the attention that they call filmstars they have never met and a collection of foreigners who were once semi famous but are now nobodies in their own countries and who have become friends because they stayed at their hotels. They give press releases which run like this : “More than 750 guests from several erstwhile kingdoms of the country will attend the wedding. Several political dignitaries from different states are also likely to attend the wedding. An elephant is being transported for the wedding. The groom will ride the elephant which will be decorated in royal style. Fashion designers have been brought in to help the guests to don their royal attire. The marriage venue has been decorated like a palace and more than 350 types of delicacies will be served to the guests”  If that is not enough, they will become nautankis. “ In December, when a prince was married in Gujarat, the couple rode through the streets on a white stallion while townspeople lined the streets and leaned over balconies showering them with applause — and money.”

 

Why am I so irritated with these ludicrous fops? Because all their weddings for some reason have to have elephants parading up and down in order to trumpet their status. Recently a “royal” wedding in Orissa brought in an elephant from Rajasthan , hundreds of miles away. The authorities were pushed into giving permission because the families are well connected politically. No one thought of the poor animal.

 

Not that the elephants even belong to them. They hire them for the function and pretend that this animal is part of their royal households. In actual fact most of them cannot afford even horses, much less elephants. There is a company called Lawazama that caters animals for royal functions so you know where most of them get them from.

 

This is what the site says :

 

Kings, Queens and nobility would travel with a regalia of Army and entertainers that would provide them security and entertainment. They would use the best of Animal driven buggies made of silver and gold and using best of cloth and brocade. The Lawazama agency has maintained and preserved the old animal ornaments, royal Chattri with stones and ornamentations, buggies and props of these royal processions and the same are available to recreate the Royal past . Animals include Elephants, Elephants with royal Seat and buggies, Camels, Horses Palanquin etc. Animals depicted the power's of the kingdom as the strength of the kingdom was gauged by the Army it would maintain and the Animals like Elephants, Camels, Horses, Ox etc would tell the size and strength of the army.

We have a full service Lawazama Back up where we arrange the Rented Animals, Carts, Buggy, wedding Doli (palanquin), character Dresses etc. The Animals are also used for Game of Elephant Polo, Horse Polo or Camel Polo.”

 

Those that have no weddings to enhance their “royalty” put together polo teams where horses are treated really badly. Or organise polo matches for which they find liquor companies as sponsors. Or go to other royalty-driven polo matches. The only time you see a gathering of sherwanis and chiffons is at these matches, no matter what the weather.

 

And nothing draws them more than elephant polo where these lumbering beasts are made to run and kick balls. Only these royals are insensitive enough to use these captive noble great animals, whose intellect and emotional life is identical to man’s, in a sport that causes nothing but pain.

 

Unfortunately, what the rich and useless do, is often imitated by newly rich politicians and businessmen. Recently elephants brought in at a wedding reception of two BSP leaders in Uttar Pradesh went on a rampage after guns were fired in a “royal” salute.  They damaged vehicles and forced the guests to flee for their lives. In all, there were 13 elephants, 15 camels and 42 horses to welcome the guests. Forest department officials and police teams remained helpless spectators as the chaos led to a huge traffic jam on the highway.

 

People who bring elephants to weddings should go to jail. The animal is protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and it is illegal to rent them out or to hire them. They cannot be used for any commercial activity. What is needed is for people to call in the police and forest department every time they see an elephant at one of these weddings and embarrass the givers. The same way that police were called in whenever anyone wore a shahtoosh shawl in public, until now no one wears them.

 

My son was married in an old temple in Varanasi. We had twenty people as guests and every sacred ritual was done with respect and attention. It was a marriage that was done the way marriages should be – as a private religious pooja consecrated to the gods. My husband and I has a small ceremony at the back of a garden with jasmine curtains as the backdrop and fifteen guests.

 

If the royals want to copy the one royal family they all adore, the British Royal family, they should do what Prince William and his wife Kate did at their wedding. They asked guests, and anyone who might consider giving them a wedding gift, to instead make a donation to their gift fund which included animal charities. The chosen organizations included scholarships for children, support services for military personnel, care for the elderly, changing lives through arts and sport and conservation for future generations. The animal organizations were selected because of their work to save critically endangered black rhinos in Kenya, wild elephants in Thailand, the Sumatran tiger, Indian tiger and Amur tiger. One of their donations was to the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh in a program called the Sundarbans Tiger Project.  The project watches over the tiger colonies and keeps poachers at bay.

 

Contrast that with the tightfistedness of royal families who refuse to help anything. Instead of showing off their marriages and rented animals to an indifferent public, they would be much better liked if they had the sense to put their marriage funds into a mass feeding of the poor.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Article From Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

One of my favourite sayings is that “lies travel round the world even before the truth has a chance to get its boots on.” One of these untruths that has taken root is that fish have no memory and consequently no brain or the ability to feel pain; which makes it easier for people to eat them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Fish show they can remember things for up to five months. Why five months ? Because the experimenters put that as their goal. It could have been 5 years or 15.

 

Researchers from the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel trained young fish to associate a sound played through a loudspeaker with feeding time. Each time they played it, the fish would return for food.

 

After just a month of training, the fish were released into the sea. Five months later, when they had become adults the sound was played again and the fish returned.

 

Of course, humans being what they are, the fact, that fish remembered as any other being, was not appreciated. Immediately the scientists thought of a way to harness this new finding. Applied to fish farming, the technique would allow 'trained' fish to be released into the sea, where they would mature naturally until ready to be killed and sold. The cost of cages, staff and feeding would all be zero as they would get their food from the ocean and only be called to be killed. Fish sellers could earn so much more money. This finding presumes that while fish have memory, they are so stupid that they will return every time to the Pied Piper’s flute in order to be killed.  Apparently, Australian crimson spotted rainbow fish, which learnt to escape from a net in their tank, remembered how they did it 11 months later. This is equivalent to a human recalling a lesson learnt 40 years ago. Hopefully, once the fish are left in the ocean, they will never come back.

 

The three-second memory attributed to goldfish is a myth.

 

Scientists at St Andrews University in Scotland found that goldfish, minnows, sticklebacks, and guppies are just as intelligent as birds and mammals.  They can learn their way around mazes, recognise other fish and remember which individuals are better competitors. Plymouth University researchers say, goldfish have a normal memory span and can even tell the time. The fish had to nudge a lever to get food. The lever was adjusted so it would only work during one hour each day. The goldfish adapted, learning to press the lever at the right time. They even clustered around the lever as feeding hour approached, apparently remembering it was nearly lunchtime. How bright is that?

 

Not only do fish have a good memory they are capable of working in teams and acting deviously. Dr Kevin Warburton of Charles Stuart University in Australia has been researching freshwater fish intelligence for years. He says “Fish are sophisticated. They learn to avoid predators after being attacked once and they retain this memory for several months. Carps, that have been caught by fishers, avoid hooks for at least a year. Fish can recognize other individuals and modify their own behaviour after observing interactions between other individuals. For example, Siamese fighting fish will attack other members of the same species more aggressively if they’ve seen them lose contests with other fighters.” According to him fish share human traits such as deception. For instance, in coral reef areas, cleaner-fish, like Wrasse, remove and eat parasitic organisms off larger “client” fish who often stand in line in ordered to be groomed. What is fascinating is that the cleaner fish behave much better with their regular customers when they are being observed by potential clients. This improves their ‘image’ and their chances of attracting clients. When on their own they often deceive larger clients by biting them rather than removing their parasites. Minnows will recognize a dangerous environment by associating a certain smell in the water with “alarm” chemicals that are released by other minnows who were killed by a predator. This goes to show that fish not only have an intricate social structure but advanced forms of communication.

 

Fish and Fisheries magazine has more than 500 research papers on fish intelligence, proving that fish  can use tools, that they have impressive long-term memories, social intelligence, exhibit cultural traditions and cooperate to inspect predators and catch food. University of Edinburgh biologists say that fish memories match or exceed those of nonhuman primates. This enables them to live in the ocean where they have to create cognitive maps that guide them through their watery homes, using cues such as light, sounds, odours, and visual landmarks.

 

How much is a fish like a human? They talk to each other with squeaks, squeals, and other low-frequency sounds. They like physical contact with other fish and often gently rub against one another. They tend well-kept gardens, encouraging the growth of tasty algae, and weeding out the types they don’t like. Many fish build nests where they raise their babies; others collect little rocks off the seafloor to make hiding places where they can rest. Some fish woo potential partners by singing to them. They build and guard nests, fanning the eggs with their fins to create a current of fresh, oxygenated water.

 

Gates scholar Alex Vail is researching how fish remember other sea creatures and people. Concentrating on the Great Barrier Reef he has found that groupers and moray eels help each other to hunt for food. The groupers chase the fish into the coral and then waggle their heads to show the eels where the fish, they like to eat, are hidden.

 

“Groupers remember snorkellers quite well for weeks. I fed a grouper a couple of times. I didn't get back to the same spot for three weeks and it sat on my fin waiting for food. ”

 

Animal behaviourist Dr Jonathan Balcombe, in his book Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good, discusses fish intelligence and capacity to feel pain and pleasure.

 

He notes:

Fish recognize individual "shoal mates," acknowledge social prestige, track relationships, eavesdrop on others, use tools, build complex nests, and exhibit long-term memories.

 

For example, fish that inhabit rocky tide pools have been shown to memorize complex topography during high tides, so that in low tides they can safely jump from one area of pooled water into another.

 

Fish are surely curious. They cautiously investigate novel objects in their surroundings. Anyone who has had their legs nibbled at, by schools of little fishes, has experienced their inquisitive nature. Leaping, and chasing games are common. Fish leapfrog, sometimes repeatedly, over floating objects, including turtles. One game of bored captive fish is juggling objects and even swimming to "gulp air at the surface of their tank, swim to the bottom, release the air and chase the bubbles to the surface."

 

Can fish feel pain? Of course. While they do not scream, cry or flatten their ears or tails when threatened, they react to threatening or stressful stimuli with colour changes, swimming rapidly or becoming immobile and changing the depth level of water they are swimming in . Michael Stoskopf, Professor of Aquatics, Wildlife, and Zoologic Medicine at North Carolina University says “It would be an error to assume that fish do not perceive pain merely because their responses do not match those traditionally seen in mammals.”

 

In one study on goldfish and rainbow trout, individual fish were placed into a test tank, and, whenever an animal swam into a particular region of the tank, electric shocks were administered. Both species reacted by becoming immobile and erratic, high-speed “panic” swimming, and learned to avoid the electrified areas. Experiments with putting acid on fish show that fish in pain don’t eat, become distracted, lose their memory temporarily. When given pain killers, they become normal – just like human beings.  

 

Fish are not “seafood”. They are sentient clever beings who deserve the same welfare that we give to ourselves and other animals.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Article From Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

One of the main issues of the last few years has been the sexual harassment of women. Not a day goes by without a report of some attack on a single woman.

 

We in the animal welfare world come across it regularly. A large number of women feed animals on the streets. If she is a lone woman with no male backup in the house, like a brother or husband, first the neighbours will abuse her, then they will threaten to hit her , they will insist that she pay for the cleaning round their houses, they will insist that she feeds the dogs at 11 pm at night when they are asleep and the male criminal is on the prowl. They will threaten her with the municipality every day. They will go to their local elected representative and he will swagger into her house. Every time a dog barks they will pick on her. They will start poisoning her colony dogs or hitting them with sticks. Every time they pass by they will kick a sleeping dog in the hope of provoking it so that they can be mean again to the woman. If a dog comes to the flat of a woman, they will throw water on it and go and bang on her door at night.  The head of the RWA will check out if there are just women who keep dogs with them for security and then start imposing illegal fines or illegally banning dogs from lifts. In one case, two young sisters in Mumbai were so frightened every night by chowkidars banging on their doors after midnight demanding that they stop feeding dogs, that they contacted me. Our investigations showed that they were being sent by the wife of a very prominent politician who wanted them out of the building because her husband had shown an interest in them. In a case in Mysore, the mother and daughter, who are the tenants of this family downstairs, were abused and spat on (literally), every time they came down to feed the puppy on the road, by the teenaged son of the landlord – who had dogs of his own. An attempt to bring the pup into their home resulted in him wielding a stick and threatening their lives. It turned out that he had come on to the daughter who had rejected his advances. The family calmed down when the police stepped in heavily. In yet another case, a father and son, both minor functionaries of a political party and known as local goondas,  went into the house of their neighbour, a single woman, when she was away at work and took away her five dogs and threw them into the middle of a highway. Two were killed instantly. When she returned from work, both of them leered at her and told her what they had done. She went and brought back the remaining dogs. Unfortunately for them she turned out to be the sister of a female deputy commissioner of police. They were publicly humiliated, even physically, and they had to run from pillar to post to try and save themselves.

 

Every day I get a sexual harassment case like this. Now we have started using the law and locking up people who do this. I also call the heads of the companies or departments where the aggressors work. Some of these males are small timers in government departments who feel protected by their jobs. Their bosses get a call from me immediately. Some of them are retired and they make up for feeling useless in society by taking on the role of women-dog feeder–hunters. They have to be even more publicly humiliated and their children have to be informed.

 

This aggression has nothing to do with the dogs. It does not happen with male dog feeders. It does not happen when there is a couple. It only happens to the women and it is a form of female molestation that should be dealt with immediately. The government gives a Colony Caretaker card to feeders and this entitles them to police protection. No woman should have to put up with this.

 

The most horrible part of this sexual aggression is that some women take part in it as well. Just as a daughter-in-law cannot be killed unless the mother-in-law has a hand in it, these women will come out with their male kin and are equally vicious if it is a lone female feeder or a widow with young children. It probably has nothing to do with the dogs – it could be the insecurity they feel on having an unattached woman in their midst. But, since the aggressors are female, they believe that they will be protected under the same law and so they abuse and hit the lone woman.

 

People who feed dogs are doing a public service at great cost to themselves. They do not get grants from the government or NGOs. They take the money out of their own pockets and spend it on a species that needs to be fed. The value of these dog feeders to the safety of the whole colony is immeasurable. If they did not feed them, the dogs would not go away: they would bite people much more. And if the colony dogs are poisoned, more will come to take their place and they will be even fiercer. Therefore, the whole colony should step in to feed the resident dogs and get them sterilized. The High Court has ordered that dogs have to stay in their own colonies. They cannot be removed and an area and time has to be demarcated for their feeding. It would make sense for all colony residents to treat these woman feeders as essential to their own colonies rather than making them victims of that type of male who is treated badly by the women of his own house and makes up for it by being nasty and threatening to lone women who have no idea of what a coward he really is.

 

Dog feeders are protected by very strong laws now. And so are women who are harassed for no reason.

 

Remember that, the next time you feel brave enough to attack a woman.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Article From Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

So many people I meet complain about having cholesterol problems. One of the signs is a growth of thick yellow patches on the skin, especially around the eyes. These are deposits of cholesterol. Another symptom is leg pain when exercising, which means the arteries are narrowing.

 

What is cholesterol? It is a waxy steroid and is found in the blood of all animals. It comes from the Greek word choles for bile and sterol for stiff, and is a hard, waxy substance.

 

Cell membranes, which wrap and protect the inner contents of all cells, must contain cholesterol in order to function properly. Cholesterol contributes firmness to membranes and keeps them from falling apart. It is involved in the production of hormones. It aids in the production of bile. It converts sunshine to vitamin D and helps in using vitamins A, D, E, and K.

 

Cholesterol is carried in the blood by molecules called lipoproteins which carry it from the liver, where it is manufactured, to the cells. If there is too much it is carried back to the liver where it is broken up as waste and expelled from the body. There are two types of lipoproteins  “Good” = HDL which collect extra cholesterol from around the body and carry it back to the liver to be eliminated from the body if we don’t need it. “Bad” = LDL which carry extra cholesterol made in the liver out to the rest of the cells in the body and deposit it in the arteries.

 

High concentrations in the blood promote a disease called atherosclerosis. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood to the heart. Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries in which artery walls thicken as a result of the accumulation of calcium and cholesterol. They stop being elastic and less blood travels through. This increases blood pressure and causes inflammation. It is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke. Heart attack occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to an area of heart muscle is blocked. Strokes occur when a blood clot blocks an artery or vein, interrupting the flow to an area of the brain.

 

The amount of cholesterol in human blood can vary from 3.6 mmol/litre to 7.8 mmol/litre.  Any reading over 5 mmol/litre is high and will significantly raise the risk of arterial disease. This is how your doctor’s reports will look :

 

Desirable - Less than 200 mg/dL.(milligrams per decilitre)

 

Bordeline high - 200 to 239 mg/dL.

 

High - 240 mg/dL and above.

 

In industrialized nations cholesterol levels are high in adults . One in ten children in the United States have got high levels of cholesterol. India is in the high cholesterol bracket. In fact, people from the Indian sub-continent (Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka) are more susceptible to having higher cholesterol levels than other people

 

What causes high cholesterol?  The wrong food, for one: foods that contain cholesterol, such as eggs, kidneys, some seafoods.  Foods high in saturated fats: red meat,  sausages, cheese, lard,  cakes, most biscuits, and cream (there are many more).  

People who are fat and people who do not exercise are much more likely to have high cholesterol; also, people who have diabetes and high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides and under-active thyroid glands.

 

Your risk factors increase if family members have had either high cholesterol, coronary heart disease or stroke.

 

What should you do to get your cholesterol and triglyceride levels back to normal? You can use medicines but the side effects are headaches, itching, and constipation/diarrhoea.

 

The first thing would be to give up meat, eggs and milk. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oats. Exercise and sleep well.

 

Since every single animal cell contains cholesterol, all animal foods contain cholesterol. All meats (chicken, fish, beef, pork, etc.) contain about the same amount of cholesterol per serving.

 

Certain animal foods—liver, egg yolk, dairy fats, organ meats, and brain— are especially high in cholesterol. Why? Liver is where the body manufactures cholesterol. Egg yolks contain concentrated cholesterol because the growing baby chick needs it to build new cells. Milk fat contains lots of cholesterol because the growing baby calf needs it to build new cells. Organ meats such as pancreas, kidney, contain more cholesterol because glands make hormones, and hormones are made from cholesterol. Brain contains very high amounts of cholesterol to insulate its electrical circuits.

 

Plant foods do not contain any cholesterol.

 

Cholesterol manufacture is also controlled by insulin levels in the blood. When people eat too many refined sugars and starches, blood insulin levels can spike (meat has sugar in it and all processed meat and junk food has a great deal). When insulin spikes, it tells all the body’s cells to make cholesterol, even if they don’t need any more. This is probably the most important reason why some people have too much cholesterol in their bloodstream. Low sugar  and low-carbohydrate diets lower the cholesterol making activity.

 

Refined carbohydrates speed up the cholesterol manufacture in the body. When you eat less carbohydrate, your body decides naturally when it should stop making cholesterol. In fact the chances are that if you have “high cholesterol” you do not have a cholesterol problem—you have a carbohydrate problem.

 

Diets high in refined carbohydrate lower HDL levels and set the stage for high insulin levels and inflammation throughout the body, including in the coronary arteries.

 

Saturated fats, trans-fatty acids and foods  with a high glycemic index affect cholesterol levels. Food high in saturated fat are mainly animal products, such as meat, butter, lard, milk, cream, eggs. Foods that contain trans-fat are found in all commercial meats, commercial pastries, fried foods, cookies, snack foods, shortenings and margarines. In fact all junk foods.

Best is to avoid all food from fast food chains.

 

The glycemic index gives us an idea of which foods raise our blood glucose fastest and highest. Obviously white sugar is the highest.  Most vegetables have low glycemic levels except potatoes. Milk and all dairy have high ones.

 

How much cholesterol do we need to eat? NONE. The body can make cholesterol out of ANYTHING—fats, carbohydrates, or proteins.

 

Eat food. Don’t let it eat you. Become a true vegetarian.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Article From Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandh

Three of India’s most common diseases, blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes Type-2 have been linked to meat eating. Let us discuss why.

 

High blood pressure or hypertension is the amount of force exerted against the walls of the arteries as blood flows through them. If a person has high BP, it means that the walls of the arteries are getting too much pressure. Smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise, stress, genetics and bad eating habits can lead to high BP. If left unchecked, it can lead to stroke (it accounts for 62% of strokes), heart attacks, and damage to the organs. A healthy blood pressure measurement should be 120/80 or lower.

 

With all the advertisements in the media it is easy to believe that the easy way to lower your blood pressure is with medication. This is not true. High blood pressure is a serious health problem but it can be combated by eating the right foods.

 

In research conducted by the Oxford University on more than 10,000 people in 2002, the prevalence of hypertension showed to be significantly different between meat eating and vegan diet groups, ranging from 15.0% in male meat eaters to 5.8% in male vegans, and from 12.1% in female meat eaters to 7.7% in female vegans.

 

Red meat is a calorie-dense, saturated fat-rich food which promotes inflammation, weight gain and increased cholesterol levels, leading to formation of plaque in the arteries. As the plaque builds up in the arteries it makes them narrower which means higher blood pressure. 

 

High BP is closely related to weight. Studies show that the fat content in meat causes more weight gain in people than vegetable and fruit consumption.

 

Processed meats are high in salt, which also contributes to elevated blood pressure; Women who consumed 3.5 servings of red meat per week were found to have a 24% increase in risk of hypertension over a 10-year period. A 7-year study of middle-aged men similarly found that meat intake was associated with larger increases in blood pressure, while vegetable and fruit intake were associated with smaller increases in blood pressure over time.

 

Heme iron, present only in meat, is another factor. The heme iron in red meat accumulates and causes damage to the cells contributing to the clogging of arteries. Non-heme iron found in plant foods has no impact on blood pressure.

 

Vegetarians have much lower cholesterol levels than meat-eaters. Vegetarian meals - and I mean those without milk as well - are typically low in saturated fat, and plants do not have any cholesterol . It is found only in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs,

 

For optimal blood pressure levels, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (USA) recommends a low-fat diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. A study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association shows that glutamic acid, found in vegetable protein, can help lower blood pressure. 

 

Certain fruits and vegetables are especially beneficial for BP patients. Potatoes contain kukoamines, which combat hypertension. Citrus fruits such as grapes, limes and oranges contain phytonutrients and bioflavonoids. These prevent blood clot formations in blood vessels. Tomato contains the antioxidant lycopene, which prevents high blood pressure. Flower vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage have glutamic acid which benefits the neurological brain function. Melons contain magnesium, potassium and carotenoids which help prevent blood vessels from hardening and narrowing. Carrots are rich in beta carotene and potassium, which are excellent for lowering blood pressure.

 

If you want to keep your BP in check, switch to plant based foods. When patients with high BP begin a vegetarian diet, many are able to eliminate the need for medication.

 

Arthritis literally means inflammation of the joints.  This starts with stiff joints and as it develops it could stop you from walking, leading to obesity, high cholesterol or heart disease. People who cannot move because of arthritis often suffer depression.

 

There is no cure for arthritis; only medicines to make it more bearable.

 

Earlier, arthritis was considered an old people's disease. Now more and more young people are getting it. There are over 180 million arthritis patients in India.

Arthritis is caused by acidity in the body. Where does this come from and how does it affect the bones?

 

Meat contains four times more amino acids than any vegetable-based protein. The body neutralises the acids from meat by using calcium. This calcium is drawn from the bones and used to offset these acids. Through this process the bones are weakened, resulting in osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

Research conducted in the UK has discovered that eating red meat increases your chances of developing arthritis. The study was based on food diaries kept by 260 participants who kept detailed food journals for seven days. It was found that participants who ate the most red meat were more than twice as likely to have inflammatory arthritis.

 

Again, heme iron, which is absorbed easier and quicker than non-heme iron in plant foods, can cause excess iron in the rheumatoid synovial membrane, leading to arthritis.

 

A Swedish study has found that a vegan diet can fight compounds in the body that are responsible for arthritis. As part of the study, 30 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were fed a vegan diet and 28 were fed a non-vegan diet for three months.

 

The result showed an increase in levels of protective antibodies and a reduction in the percentage of fat in the body amongst the vegan diet group.

 

People with rheumatoid arthritis have experienced improvements after switching from a meat-rich diet to a plant-based one.  People who rarely eat fruit and have low levels of vitamin C are up to three times more likely to develop inflammatory arthritis. Antioxidants, found in some of the vegetables, protect against tissue damage around the joints. One study found that people who ate a vegetarian or vegan diet reported an improvement in arthritis symptoms including pain, morning stiffness, and grip strength.

 

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is not able to make enough insulin in the pancreas, or the body cells are unable to use the insulin being produced. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar. Currently, there are 67 million diabetes patients in India. Type-2 diabetes is connected to body weight, fitness and lifestyle.

 

Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health have analysed data from studies of people followed for 14 to 28 years to observe their diet and the effect it had on their blood sugar levels. It was found that a daily serving of red meat increased the risk of adult-onset diabetes by 19%. A daily serving of processed red meat increased the risk by 51%.

 

Three components of red meat were indicted—sodium, nitrites, and iron. Sodium increases BP, and it also causes insulin resistance (when body cells are unable to use the insulin being produced). Nitrites and nitrates also increase insulin resistance and damage pancreatic beta cells (which store and release insulin). Heme iron is easily absorbed and in some people this can cause excess iron. Too much iron can lead to higher levels of inflammation, which is a precursor to diabetes. The Harvard study found that replacing meat with whole grains, nuts and low-fat dairy, lowered diabetes risk.

 

According to another study published by the American Diabetes Association researchers studied 99 subjects divided into two groups. One group was fed a vegan diet for 22 weeks, while the other group was fed a diet with meat for the same duration. At the end of the 22 weeks, it was found that more people from the vegan group had lowered their medicine dosage in comparison to the group on the meat diet. Participants who followed the vegan diet also experienced greater reduction in cholesterol levels and weight loss.  

 

These three are lifestyle diseases. That means you decide if whether you want them or not. If you are a habitual meat eater, why not try mock meat? It is made of soya and is rich in proteins. It tastes exactly like meat but will not cause harm.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Article from Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

The first book I wrote is called Brahma’s Hair and it was about the mythologies around Indian plants. How much of mythology is simply story and how much true fascinates me.

 

There are about a 100 recognised breeds of cats. Most of them are just mutations of the original species. The original breeds have legends that are truly interesting.

 

The Birman is a revered cat breed from Burma.The temple of the golden image of Goddess Tsun Kyan-Kse was attended by the Kittahs or monks of whom the head, Mun-Ha, always meditated in front of the Goddess. Accompanying him in his meditation was Sinh, the white cat . One night Mun-Ha was killed by Siamese invaders as he meditated. Sinh placed his paws on the monk's robes. Facing the Goddess, Sinh's fur became as golden as the statue and his eyes became the beautiful sapphire of the Goddess. His legs, tail, ears and face became a velvety rich brown. His paws became white.

 

The Kittahs closed the bronze doors of the temple, saving it from the invaders. The next morning, the remaining cats had been similarly transformed. As the priests argued about Mun-Ha’s successor the cats surrounded the youngest of the Kittahs to succeed him. It is believed that when a Kittah dies, he will be reincarnated as a Birman cat before attaining Nirvana.

 

The heavy furred Norwegian Forest Cat originated in the forests of Norway around 4,000 years ago, and is considered one of the oldest cat breeds. According to legend, enchanted felines roamed the forests for centuries, disappearing and re-emerging at will. Eventually, the cats came out of the forests to live with farmers. Viking ships sailed with Forest Cats on board. In Nordic folklore, Freya, goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and the home, travelled across the sky in a fiery golden chariot with two huge cats pulling it. One cat was black and the other one white, one male, one female. Freya controlled the sunshine and rain and farmers who sat out bowls of milk for stray cats were rewarded for their kindness with bountiful harvests.

 

Another old cat is the silent French Chartreux originating from Asia Minor. The breed came to France through returning Crusaders who brought back these blue-grey cats from Syria as gifts to French monks of the Carthusian order, whose metallurgical expertise had provided swords for the conquests. According to legend, Chartreux cats kept by the monks, on islands like Cyprus and Malta, would leave the monastery in the morning to kill poisonous serpents. In the evening, when the monks rang the bells, they would return to the monastery for their evening dinner. It is said that, like the monks, Chartreux cats took on their vow of silence. Some Chartreux still pose as if praying, sitting with front paws raised together, gazing heavenward.

 

The tailless Manx breed originated before the 1700s on the Isle of Man. Apparently the  Manx lost its tail because it was late arriving in the Ark, and Noah accidentally jammed its tail while closing the door.  Another legend claims that the Manx is the offspring of a cat and a rabbit, explaining why it has no tail and rather long hind legs. Manx cats move with more of a hop than a stride, like rabbits.

 

From Thailand come two cats : The Siamese, held in such high esteem that no one except the King and the royal family were permitted to own them. It was said that when Siamese kings died, their souls would pass into a Siamese cat, so that he could be present at the coronation of the succeeding king before attaining heaven. When a person of high rank died, one of these cats was selected to receive the dead person's soul. The cat was sent to a temple to spend the rest of its days living a life of great luxury, which had been provided by the departed one's relatives in an attempt to receive blessings.

 

Some Siamese cats have a kinked tail. Legend has it that a cat ancestor voluntarily kinked its tail so as to provide a safe place for the princess' rings while she was bathing.  Another fable accounts for both the cross-eyed feature as well as the kink. Once, when all the men of Siam left their homes to defend their kingdom, two cats - one male Siamese, Tien, and one female Siamese, Chula - remained in order to guard Buddha's golden goblet in the sacred temple. Tien left to find a priest. The female never once glanced away from the goblet, wrapping her long tail around its stem to prevent theft in case she should fall asleep. She gave birth to kittens with a kinked tail and crossed eyes.

 

The Korat is a blue grey cat. These cats are carried by farmers in ritual processions meant to bring rain to the fields. It is known as the good-luck cat of Thailand and a pair of Korats are often given to brides on their wedding day to ensure a happy marriage.

 

The Egyptian Mau is the only naturally spotted breed of domestic cat. Considered a personification of the Sun God Ra as far back as 1400 B.C, they were worshipped as deities, cherished as pets, protected by laws, and mummified and mourned upon their deaths. One of the legends of Mau is that he killed the monstrous serpent deity, Apep the God of Evil and protected Persea the Tree of Life.

 

The Persian cat, with its long flowing coat and open pansy-like face has been written about as early as 1684 B.C. According to mythology the cat was created on Noah’s Ark: Alarmed at the increasing number of mice Noah asked God for help; God ordered him to rub the lion’s nostrils, whereupon the lion sneezed out a pair of cats. This myth is at the root of the Persian folk belief that the cat is vain because it fell out of a lion’s nose,

 

One legend tells the story of a merchant who came across a band of robbers attacking a man. The merchant fought off the thieves and cared for the injured stranger. When he recovered, the stranger told the merchant he was a magician and promised him one wish. The merchant told the magician that he liked to sit under the sparkling stars at night and watch the smoke curl from a crackling fire. The magician took a swirl of smoke, a spear of fire and the light of two stars. He created a cat with a fire tipped tongue, smoke grey fur and sparkling eyes. It was the first Persian cat.

 

From Turkey comes two species: The Turkish Van Cat with a red tail and a red spot on its head. They are the only cats to like playing in water. Legends state, that the Van Cat accompanied Noah on the Ark and, being impatient,  jumped off the Ark and swam to shore to Mount Ararat.

 

The white Turkish Angora (named after Ankara) with odd coloured eyes whose importance in Turkey stems from two events: the Prophet Mohammed possessed a Turkish Angora he regarded so highly that rather than disturb it as it slept on his robe, he cut off the sleeve. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923, declared that his successor would be bitten on the ankle by an odd-eyed white cat.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Ayurveda-a living style

Ayurveda, meaning the science of life, is the oldest existing medical system. In India the history of traditional veterinary science dates back to the period of Mahabharata 1000-900 BCE. During the battle the hurt and diseased animals were treated with medicinal plants. The Pandava brothers Nakula and Sahadeva were the sons of the physicians of the gods, the Ashvins, and doctors of horses and cows.

 

It is only in the 20th century that the divide between doctors treating humans and those treating animals widened and finally separated. Till then, all over the world, the same person treated both.  Indian medical treatises like the Charaka, Sushruta and Harita Samhita also contained prescriptions for animal care. The earliest and most important work is that of Shalihotra (c. 2350 BC), the son of a Brahmin sage, Hayagosha, from Sravasti in Uttar Pradesh. Shalihotra's principal work was the Shalihotra Samhita, a treatise on the care and management of horses, with 12,000 shlokas in Sanskrit describing equine and elephant anatomy, diseases, cures and surgical procedures – and veterinary ethics. Nakula wrote the Ashva-chikitsa or book on horse medicine and Sahadeva wrote Gavyayurveda on cattle medicine.

 

Body typing is a unique concept in Ayurvedic medicine and it applies to animals as well. The Tridosha are the three forces that make up the mind and body - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are made up with combinations of five elements: Vata = Ether + Air , Pitta = Fire + Water and Kapha = Water + Earth.  These three Doshas control all biological, psychological, and physical functions of the body, mind and consciousness and determine personality traits and physiological structure.

 

A balance of the doshas is necessary for health. These doshas can be increased or decreased. For example, Vata is dry, light, and cold; so any food, medicine, or behaviour that increases these qualities will increase Vata within the body. Conversely, oily, heavy, or hot factors will decrease Vata. The permutations lead to different constitutions.

 

Vata governs movement in the mind and body. It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts. The related elements are Air and Ether. Common characteristics of pets who have a predominantly Vata constitution:

Intelligence, quick to learn but also quick to forget, slender and small framed;  walks quickly, tendency toward cold paws, discomfort in cold weather, excitable, lively, fun, tendency to act on impulse, distracted easily, high energy in short bursts , tendency to tire easily and to overexert. Full of joy and enthusiasm when in balance, but stressed with anxiety when out of balance. Generally with dry skin and dry fur and cold paws. Typical health problems include hypertension, earaches, anxiety, irregular heart rhythms, muscle spasms, lower back pain, constipation, abdominal gas, diarrhoea, nervous stomach and arthritis. The eyes may be sunken, small, dry, and active. The nails are rough and brittle. The shape of the nose is bent and sometimes turned-up. The production of urine is scanty and the faeces are dry, hard, and small in quantity. The sleep may be disturbed

 

Pitta is a force created by the interplay of water and fire. Pitta governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, and body temperature, the lustre of the eyes, intelligence, and understanding. Psychologically, Pitta arouses anger and jealousy. The small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, fat, eyes, and skin are the seats of Pitta. 

 

Animals with a predominantly Pitta body type are of medium physique, strong, well-built. They are focused, competitive, assertive, self-confident, impatient, jealous, easily angered when stressed, and like to be in command.These turn into aggression and pushiness when out of balance. They have a strong appetite and get irritated if they have to miss or wait for a meal. Pittas are uncomfortable in sun or hot weather; heat makes them very tired. Typical physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, boils, skin cancer, ulcers, heartburn, acid stomach, bloodshot or burning eyes and other vision problems, anaemia, jaundice.

 

The fur is soft and warm. The eyeballs will be of medium prominence. The claws are softer. The shape of the nose is sharp. Their sleep is of medium duration but uninterrupted. They produce a large volume of urine. The body temperature may run slightly high, and their paws will tend to be warm.

 

Kapha is water and earth. This dosha maintains body resistance. Kapha lubricates the joints, provides moisture to the skin, helps to heal wounds, gives biological strength, vigour, and stability, supports memory retention, gives energy to the heart and lungs, and maintains immunity. Kapha is present in the chest, throat, head, sinuses, nose, mouth, stomach, joints, plasma, and in the liquid secretions of the body, such as mucus. Animals who have a predominantly Kapha constitution are easygoing, relaxed, calm , slow-paced , graceful, affectionate and loving, self sufficient, forgiving, compassionate, non-judgmental, stable and reliable; faithful with a mild, gentle, and essentially undemanding approach to life . However they can be possessive and greedy. They are physically strong with a sturdy, heavier build. They have a steady and enduring energy, are slower to learn, but never forget. They have soft and thick fur; large “soft” eyes and broad chests. They tend towards overweight and may suffer from sluggish digestion but have a strong resistance to disease. They don’t like cold, damp weather. Physical problems include colds and congestion, respiratory problems hay fever, allergies, and atherosclerosis. Due to slow digestion, they tend to consume less food. Stools are soft and may be pale in colour, evacuation is slow. Sleep is sound and prolonged.

 

The body types are a combination and permutation of the dosha present in them. In order to balance the changes that come through the environment an animal owner may create a balance for their pet in the internal forces by altering his or her diet and lifestyle.

 

In Ayurveda, food is medicine and it is important to consider the right ingredients, proportions, freshness and seasonality, promoting balance with foods that counter or diminish the excess dosha. If you choose to change your pets’ diets, do so slowly, taking about three weeks to switch them over to a better alternative.

 

In addition to the pet’s dosha, keep in consideration whether the animal is a larger or smaller breed, active or a couch potato.  Below are a few specific food recommendations based on either vata, pitta or kapha canines.

Vata (e.g. Greyhound dog) – Vata dogs run cool and dry and should avoid beans, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, and potatoes. Feed them warming foods along with washed and pureed carrots and squashes although they can be quickly blanched then pureed for enhanced digestion.

 

Avoid ghee as it is hard for animals to digest and can lead to pancreatitis. For pets experiencing digestive issues, they can be fed “khichdi” made with white basmati rice and mung beans.  Spices can include black pepper, cumin and coriander, with a slight bit of hing for Vata dogs.

Pitta (e.g. bulldogs) – As Pitta dogs tend to run warm, avoid foods that provoke warmth. They do well with cooling foods; dairy products such as cottage cheese, and even tofu.  Fresh pureed veggies such as leafy greens are beneficial as well.

Kapha (e.g. overweight Golden Retriever) – For the heavy-set Kapha pet, the diet should contain more wholesome foods such as fresh veggies. Avoid starch, grains and fat, and additives such as molasses and corn syrup.  Veggies should include carrots, squash and pumpkin and should always be washed, raw and pureed.

 

The most common herbs and spices for pets include turmeric, cumin and coriander powders for balancing digestion. Try dried or fresh ginger for Vata pets, cumin and coriander for Pitta, and turmeric for Kapha. Take care not to overindulge, as a 60 lb. dog only needs 1/8 of a teaspoon of any given herb.

For hyperactive dogs, ashwagandha has a calming effect.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Article from Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Another election has gone and it has been another missed opportunity for those that consider themselves sensitive to the environment and other species in it. During my election I was only asked how many roads I was going to build or mend, how many overhead bridges and whether I could get more electricity into the villages. I was asked for old age and widow pensions, money to get girls married, free and good medical treatment and solar lights for religious places. I was asked for more urea for the farmers and more government procurement centres.

 

I presume that most candidates were asked the same. Not one of us were asked on what we intended to do about removing pesticides , getting more trees planted or dealing with illegal slaughterhouses, the smuggling of cattle, new ways to look after carthorses or oxen , animal sacrifices.

 

While we are repeatedly asked about getting jobs for the thousands of unemployed young people and improving low incomes, not one person asked about new income generating schemes based on better agriculture. No one questioned the illegal butchery and sale of animals in every town, the illegal bird markets, the illegal wood extraction, the plastic that has destroyed each village and town drainage system. No one questioned the illegal oxytocin injections being given at each dairy (which are one of the main reasons for tuberculosis and cancer). No one asked about the forests being set on fire by the forest department or the lack of veterinary centres for their animals. No one asked for better education systems that fulfilled the needs of India or for alternative fuels that would make them free of having to cook on illegally cut wood. No one complained about the falling water levels and the severe contamination of the rivers. No one spoke about the lack of water ponds in each village where the pradhan had forcibly dried the pond and sold the land for village houses. No one questioned the huge increase in cancer and hepatitis C cases.

 

Many more elections will come and go with everyone asking the wrong questions. All these questions go towards making the wrong policies by any government that comes to power – because they believe that this is what makes people happy.

But it doesn’t. I can build a million more tarred roads to each village and all they will do is to make the country even hotter, eat up all the agricultural land. I went for a dinner in Pilibhit with “intellectuals” and all they wanted was a four lane road from Bareilly to Pilibhit which would result in the cutting of at least 5000 ficus and mango trees. They wanted the land around to be freed from agriculture and turned into Dhabas to service the trucks which would then traverse these roads. Not one person was concerned about the rising levels of heat and the fact that we had hailstorms in April that killed part of the wheat crop. I was asked to divert the thousand acres kept for grazing and turn it into an industrial park so that people could get jobs.

 

Unless we put forests, water and organic agriculture at the centre of our demands from politicians we are not going to survive. We have set the agenda and made people believe that roads, grid based electricity and pensions will make everyone happy. They will not. We have not, in all these years, even devised a way to make roads that will prevent them from unraveling and getting potholes within three months of being laid. We have devised no ways in which we can bring cowdung into the market as a viable cooking medium or even as an efficient way to burn dead bodies. We have no agro based or food based industry knowledge for the young entrepreneur. We have no forestry schemes – except for cutting trees. We have no way in which to penalize industries who pollute large rivers. In Uttar Pradesh one industry based in Hapur has polluted the entire Ram Ganga which goes all the way to Aonla hundreds of miles away. We have no schemes to bring the water table up. We have no training of farmers on how to diversify their crops and earn more.

 

And then we complain about the quality of politicians we get and the work of governments. But what do we demand from each candidate? All we demand is that they be of a particular caste, have enough money to spend in an election, make the maximum noise and give the best speeches. We have no idea of the schemes that government has – the rural health insurance scheme for instance which could be a godsend for those that have no money in a medical crisis. And the ones that could have changed the country like MNREGA is used to simply hand out money by corrupt village heads and has, in the process, destroyed all the artisan community without bringing any relief to a single village. Not one person in my constituency complained about the misuse of MNREGA. All they said was that they had to pay a percentage to the pradhan to get their money and could I help them with that.

MNREGA was supposed to be used to plant fruit trees round the villages, make ponds, clean canals, make village roads and drainage systems. Not one thing has been done – except making a few brick roads and a two room centre which is supposed to be used by officials when they come visiting. Community forestry tackles warming and keeps the weather stable, rural unemployment and malnutrition. It creates permanent assets for the rural unemployed who are also landless. The community is coming together and engaging in agroforestry and community forestry. Once provided with greenery and fruit bearing trees, they can sell the fruit for income and eat it themselves to better their health. They can create their own timber/wood fuel needs which will take the pressure of local wild forests and off the women who are sent to get the wood everyday. Any sensible government would do this immediately and any sensible voter would demand this immediately.

 

Is this what elections are about? If we do not demand the right things, we are in danger of business as usual. And the next elections will bring in a new set of useless people. Everything of value - water, forests, animal welfare and agriculture - has been left to NGOs to teach – and yet NGOs are held with deep suspicion by every government.

 

Any attempt to talk about any of these things during an election is mocked by the media and other politicians as being retrograde. So, even people like me keep quiet in despair.

 

There will come a time when the entire election will be about water, the weather and its effect on the lack of food. By then it will be too late.

 

Why did you, the voter, not put this in your demands to your local candidate? You need to set the correct agenda.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Last week I wrote about the terrible practice of dyeing animals to make them “cuter”, a practice that invariably results in their death. Thousands of fish are dyed and sold every day – you just have to look at the Internet to see how many are for sale to those dreadful people who keep aquariums that are nothing more than cages for fish.

 

But it is not just fish that are subjected to this torture. Few people realize that corals and anemones that are also sold for these aquaria are also animals. They come from the reefs that protect our shores. They look like plants but they are not – and corals are not just one animal, but thousands of them.

 

Corals and sea anemones are marine invertebrates that are now being used as marine ornaments for aquariums. They belong to the animal family called Cnidarians, and while they have the ability to catch small fish using stinging cells on their tentacles, they obtain most of their nutrition from algae in their tissue, called zooxanthella.

 

Soft corals and stony corals are subjected to unnatural pigmentation in gaudy pink, magenta and bright yellow. Most aquarium keepers in this country know nothing about the fish and the animals that they are going to subject to misery – just to make their drawing rooms and offices more interesting – and they are the ones who are killing our coasts and all the animals / fish that live there. They are the ones who are taken in with these wonders of incredible colour, and fuel the trade and practice of dyed corals with their purchases. Some of the most commonly dyed corals include, but are not limited to: "Leather/Finger" coral, "Colt" coral, "Cup" coral, "Flowerpot" coral, and "Trumpet" coral. The practice of selling dyed corals in the market originated in Indonesia, in 2001, and then Fiji.

 

Anemones are animals that live in sand (in the ocean) and retract into it when disturbed. They are already threatened by pollution and an increase in ocean temperatures. Their removal upsets the local ecosystem, and many fish that live with them die when they are removed. Moreover, these animals grow and reproduce so slowly, that their population lies threatened.

 

Like corals, most of the anemones sold require a good deal of light to survive. The zooxanthellae provides the anemone with sugars in exchange for a safe place to live. When the anemone is dyed, the zooxanthellae are unable to obtain enough light to photosynthesize and soon die, starving the anemone. The “Sebae” and “Carpet” anemones are naturally brown, cream or light green coloured, and are usually dyed yellow, blue or red. Sometimes they are bleached white. Most people buy them thinking that they are plants to be used as decoration in an aquarium, but soon realize that anemones are fish-eating animals that move, stinging and eating almost any fish that brushes against them.

 

Corals support thousands of species. They protect seashores from the impact of waves, serve as a vital input of food into the tropical / sub-tropical marine food chain, and assist in recycling nutrients, too. They provide home and shelter to over 25% of fish in the ocean and up to two million marine species. By eliminating them, everything that depends on it for survival will also be eliminated.

 

Without zooxanthellae, there is no food supply to them and these animals start to consume their own tissue due to starvation. This results in tissue necrosis, due to which the animal dies. Without the protection of zooxanthellae, corals and anemones also become vulnerable to pests, predators and diseases.

 

Another thing that kills them is the effect of bright lighting systems on an already stressed animal. A dyed or bleached animal can be quite sensitive to excessive illumination, which increases their rate of mortality. The stress of a high watt bulb, combined with shallow tank water is too stressful for them and makes them perish.

 

The Indian wildlife department is probably the most ill-informed, ill-equipped and corrupt of all departments. Its inspectors are rubbish – they are flat-footed illiterate constable types who can barely make out the difference between a snake and a monkey. Their job seems to be simply to take money from illegal sellers of animals and birds. Most times, members of People For Animals have to do the identifications for the police. There is one laboratory in the Wildlife Institute in Dehradun. Last time it was sent mongoose hair brushes for identification, it took one year and then returned them saying they could not make out whether these brushes were hair or acrylic! There are no workshops for officers or inspectors, no exams, no learning schedules.

 

The aquarium traders have taken advantage of this and the trade in illegal fish, coral and anemones is rampant. Dealers deliberately dye corals to make them more appealing to children and their parents since they are the largest segment of “hobby” customers. Exporters dye corals and anemones in a dreadful practice that compounds shipping stress and makes an animal, with an otherwise high rate of mortality, die very soon. Dealers and shop owners market dyed corals as “rare specimens”, often at extremely high prices. There are no responsible aquarium owners – an average shop is owned by illiterate thugs who sell illegal turtles under the counter as well and do not know the name of any species they sell. In fact they sell inappropriate food in the hope that some of your fish will die and they can keep selling you more.

 

The rules about aquaria are lying in the Ministry for Environment and Forests for the last 5 years and everytime any officer wants to make money, he simply threatens to turn them into law and Voila! he has enough money to take a foreign holiday with his family.

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Last month, at a conference of the Federation of Animal Welfare organisations (FIAPO) I met an Englishman who has written a truly remarkable book called Farmageddon published by Bloomsbury – The true cost of Cheap Meat. His name is Philip Limbery. I recommend that all of you buy it – especially those that eat meat. The word Farmageddon is a twist of the word Armageddon, the ultimate battle between the forces of good and evil.

In the book one chapter deals with the fact that people who eat meat, thinking they are getting high protein from meat are, instead, getting, high levels of fat.

Let me explain how:

Factory farming – the growing of animal for meat – is a 21st century phenomenon and has been responsible for the huge epidemic in obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  People trying to lead a healthy lifestyle are often told to eat meat rather than cakes. But is roast chicken or mutton healthier? Factory farming is based on feeding sick animals hormones, antibiotics and those foods that make them fatter faster. In the course of a hundred years the nutritional value of the meat has been stripped away and the fat content has soared. To quote the author “Scientists claim that you have to eat four entire factory farmed chickens to benefit from the same level of some nutrients as you would from a single organic chicken in the 1970s”. According to Prof. Michael Crawford of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Nutrition, “The intensification of animal farming has virtually destroyed the nutritional quality of the food”. In his study published in the premier medical magazine Lancet he highlights the difference between the fat content of factory produced animals – piggeries, poultries, cattle pens, rabbit farms etc. – and their “wild” counterparts. His research reveals that the ratio of “bad”(saturated) to “good” (polyunsaturated) fats in factory animals is 50:1 as compared to less than 3:1 in naturally grown animals. This article was written ten years ago. The latest finds show that the situation is even worse now. According to one study, if the population reduced its intake of saturated fat from meat by only 30%, rates of heart disease would fall by 15% and the rate of premature deaths would be much lower.

Industrially grown animals are selected to grow fat fast. They are supposed to get obese in the shortest possible time as their dead bodies are weighed for sale. They are fed only that food that puts on weight and get no exercise. As a result the meat is marbled with excess fat. Meats like sausages and koftas come from fatty cuts of meat. The amount of fat found in a serving of meat is totally dependent on what the animal was fed. Data from 76 separate studies found that meat, milk and eggs produced in factory conditions contained more fat and less nutrients than from those animals that roamed free. Pasture reared beef has 25-50% less fat and chicken less than 50%.

Polyunsaturated fats contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 (which is of little value).  The human body has evolved to eat the same levels of both. But in actual fact people who eat meat eat more than 25 times more Omega 6 than Omega 3. This is because the animals grown industrially from meat are no longer fed grass or any greens which contain Omega 3. They are force fed on a diet of just grain. Even hay will not help. A diet that excludes fresh forage has very little Omega 3, according to a study done in 2010. Pasture reared cattle have 2.5 times higher essential Omega 3  nutrients, chicken has 5 times higher, pigs have 40% higher, eggs have 30% and milk has 100% higher. This is an important statistic because the lack of Omega 3 has been linked to cancer and heart disease.

Free range eggs have double the amount of Vitamin E – an important nutrient in protecting the immune system. Free range eggs also have three times as much beta-carotene which becomes Vitamin A in the body, maintaining healthy eyes, bones and cells. Free range pig meat has 60% higher Vitamin E. Milk from cows that have been fed well – and not just grain and hay – has 180% more beta-carotene. But you, in India, only get to eat factory meat, eggs and milk.

This belief that chicken is high protein and low fat and can be had for diets is no longer true. Poultry raised chickens are now 20% fat and contain 40% more fat than protein. This is because of decades of selective breeding for fat chickens and ofcourse a terrible hormone and grain based diet.

In 2005 a study done by Crawford’s scientists of modern chicken meat revealed that now chicken contained three times more fat than chickens in 1970 and 33% less protein – which means it contains more than 50% more calories now. It also contains 80% less Omega 3. Chickens need to eat grass, seeds and insects. Instead they are given cardboard, grain, their own mashed up brothers and ofcourse hormones and antibiotics. The poultry owners call it “food conversion efficiency” meaning the fattest birds at the lowest cost. They are kept in jammed, confined conditions to reduce labour costs and between the time they are born to the time they are killed, they are not allowed to move. Movement would “waste energy”. Such chickens are not protein rich but fat rich. Anyone who eats this meat in the belief that they will lose weight and still remain healthy is heading for a major illness.

Not only is the factory raised animal fat-filled and sick, feeding grain to animals is ridiculous. Cows and sheep normally ate grass which people did not eat. Pigs and chickens ate scraps, left overs and foraged for things that people did not want. Now to feed them human grain when so many people starve is a crime. It takes eleven kilos of grain to make one kilo of meat or chicken. Can we afford it? Is it producing healthier meat, milk or eggs? No, because it is an unnatural food. So we starve our people to feed grain to animals who did not want it to begin with. Then we eat their sick bodies and make ourselves ill.

Is there any sense in this?

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.inwww.peopleforanimalsindia.org

God save any parent from two sons

God save any parent from two sons. Even the richest families do not survive the inherent rivalry between them and a large number of cases in court are by brothers demanding the estate. Brothers and sisters are slightly better but once they get married the bond becomes weaker and again the fighting, over property, starts. It is estimated that there are over one crore cases in India just dealing with sibling claims.

How do animals brothers and sisters work with each other? Sand Tiger Shark babies kill each other up in the womb till only one emerges. Fire salamanders eat each other in the womb so that they can get healthier and develop more quickly.  

Like us, some animal siblings compete for resources such as parental care, food, territory, and potential mating partners. The degree of rivalry varies, ranging from a low level of violence to the killing of kin in siblicide.

Blue footed booby siblings often exhibit aggression towards each other, with older chicks pecking at younger chicks. Senior chicks may sometimes eliminate siblings when there are food shortages. So do laughing gulls who are born in earlier batches of eggs. Cattle egrets are known to practice siblicide when the parents are away from the nest hunting for insects and fish. One of the chicks as it gets stronger will actually kill its sibling and throw it out of the nest. In other bird species, siblings compete for food through manipulation of parental behavior rather than direct aggressive acts: American robin chicks compete for food provided by their parents through louder cheeps, with the most food given to chicks exhibiting the most intense begging behavior. Do human parents encourage rivalry in the belief that it will bring out the toughness in their children? Many behave like Great Tits who distribute food preferentially to their babies, increasing their inequality and bonds with each other.

Spotted hyena siblings begin their aggression towards each other only a few minutes after birth and this continues for a few days. The aim is to establish rank between littermates but if there is intense competition for food, it can lead to murder.

Not all aggressive rivalry is meant to be lethal. But it may end up that way.  You have seen puppies and piglets pushing each other away to feed better at their mother’s teats. In fact, competition is responsible for 43% of piglet neonatal death due to starvation.

But there are happier cases of sibling revelry in nature.

The workers in a bee hive are all sisters. These siblings raise their younger sisters to maturity, feeding and grooming them, even fluttering their wings throughout the day so that the hive doesn't get too hot. When the larvae become pupae just before adulthood, the older sisters coat them with wax in their beds so that the babies can grow in peace.

Common shrew siblings take care to ensure that they all stay together. Their response to danger is clamping down on each other's tails with their teeth in caravan style so that they are not separated.

When Cascaded frogs are just tadpoles they recognize and remember their brothers and sisters. Much later, should they come across them they will leave groups they're not related to so that they can hang out with their family.

Naked mole rats are the only mammals like bees or ants. They have hundreds of sisters from the same mother and organize themselves into large yet intimate colonies. The older sisters help defend against predators and feed their younger siblings. Only one female in a colony is allowed to reproduce and her sisters will sacrifice having mates so that the colony structure remains organized.

Turkeys are what brothers should be. Many male bird species separate from the flock when they get older, but turkeys form bonds with their brethren for life, helping each other to hunt and look for food. A turkey may even help his more dominant brother attract females while he himself foregoes mating.

The Asian short-clawed otter can have a family of 15 individuals. In this family older siblings help to raise younger offspring. As long as their parents are alive, otter siblings will never part. Young siblings form groups with older females and will sometimes hold hands so that they don't get separated. The otter brothers spend almost all their time together, and get along pretty well, except for the occasional scuffle around feeding time. They even sleep in a big pile, and when they want to move the location of their sleeping nest, they work together: they pull the grasses down, and carry them around industriously.

Peregrine falcons bond uniquely. Not only will they play with each other while airborne, but they will also practice their hunting skills on one another, where one falcon plays the role of predator and the other acts as prey.

Earwigs are also fiercely loyal to their siblings. Female earwigs lay on average 40 to 45 eggs and stay over the winter with them. The mothers watch the eggs, keep them clean by licking off fungi and carry them back and forth in the nest. Once the young emerge, they stay in the nest for few weeks with their mothers, even though they are equipped to take care of themselves. The siblings behave cooperatively and share food, and this behavior occurs much more frequently when the mother is not present and is not feeding her offspring herself.

Australian social huntsman spiders live as family groups with a single mother and multiple clutches of her offspring in nests under the loose bark of dead trees. Bigger brothers and sisters capture bigger, juicier prey, which they bring back to the nest to share with their younger siblings.

Like most humans, elephants are born one at a time, and older sister elephants babysit their younger siblings while the mother is away.

Lions boast a special form of sister and brother alliance: sisters stay together all their lives in groups called prides, and brothers form coalitions when they set off to find other prides to conquer

If chimpanzees are orphaned, they are often adopted by old siblings. This occurs even if both partners are still immature, with older individuals effectively becoming ‘child household heads’.

Are you fighting with your family members? Are you happy?

Endangered Indian elephants at cross roads

Endangered Indian elephants at cross roads
Saikat Kumar Basu
Lethbridge AB Canada
The repeated news of electrocutions of majestic adult elephants across West Bengal and other parts of eastern India is not at all accidental like the railway crossing accidents. It is shaping into a planned execution of the defenseless animals by a section of farming communities desperate to protect their agronomic produce in the fields and their rural homes and properties against marauding herds of elephants just like highly organized poaching teams operating in the locality. The Forest Department needs to quickly jump into action across the elephant belts particularly in the areas adjoining elephant habitats in the north, west and southern parts of the state. Such incidents are classical examples of human-animal conflict and unless taken seriously enough with a master conservation management strategy could soon turn out into common incident across the state and dangerously threaten the elephant population. The Forest Department and the State Administration have been sweeping the consistent human-elephant conflict issue under the carpet by pushing and directing the migrating elephant herds from one region to the next without going underneath the surface to tackle the problem at its roots. The consequence has been the elephants have been coming back in huge herds causing great loss of crops and human lives adjoining the elephant habitats and elephant migration corridors. Neighboring states sharing overlapping elephant habitats and corridors need to come to a discussion table to develop a comprehensive plan in elephant management including the local rural communities as important stakeholders in the process of conservation. Chasing elephants from one state to another or from one region to another is not going to solve the issue which is turning gravely critical over the years with no proper strategy being designed, developed or implemented other than childish proposals such as use immuno-contraceptives in regulating elephant populations. The historic migration corridors of wild elephants have been blocked by infringement by rural communities illegally under the patronage of the political parties over time flouting established rules and regulations. Tea plantations, agronomic fields, railways lines, villages, grazing fields have penetrated deep inside previous elephant habitats resulting in habitat fragmentation. The helpless animals are being pushed every day in vacating wildlife corridors used for centuries and the resulting consequence have been direct confrontation of human and wildlife. Unless the infringement into elephant habitats are sincerely restricted and the ancient elephant migration corridors are vacated to cater to the animals, cosmetic strategies will not be able to resolve the perennial human-elephant conflict in the state of West Bengal. It would continue to cause the death of both humans and elephants unabated.
​Two other factors impacting wild elephant populations in India are accidental deaths while crossing highways and railways tracks passing through prime elephant habitats; and last but not the least poaching for the highly valued tasks. The lucrative wildlife and wildlife product markets in China, Hong Kong and SE Asia have been the detrimental factor promoting massacre wild herd of elephants in both Asian and African continents.

Due to stringent border security along the Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Myanmar borders in recent times together enhanced surveillance in Nepal, Bhutan, southern and NE India; eastern Indian forests have turned into prime targets of elephant poaching. In spite of the human-animal conflicts in the context of massive eco-environmental challenges in south Asia for elephant conservation, the population of endangered Indian elephants in some pockets of the country has shown some increase. Furthermore, the recent Central Government directive in preventing buying and selling of Indian elephants in rural animal markets should be applauded. Another important praise worthy initiative of the Central Government under the patronage of Honorable Ms. Maneka Gandhi has been establishment of elephant shelters in the country for the protection and care of sick, old and abandoned elephants. Similar initiatives are also known in Sri Lanka and Thailand; and such protection cum rehabilitation centers usually draws huge number of tourists to these countries every year. Care must be taken to convert these elephant rehabilitation centers in India also into major tourist destinations for their long term sustenance in addition to financial support from the Central and respective State governments. It will be also important to slowly review the practice of donating and maintaining elephants in temples across South India. With all due to respect to religious sentiments and centuries old religious custom; however, an endangered species could not be allowed to be part of traditional and socio-religious practices in the new millennium.

Fig 1. Chopsticks made from ivory in Hong Kong. Photo credit: Saikat Kumar Basu

My rebuttal to misinformation about jallikattu

How the Modi Sarkar Spread Disinformation on Jallikattu and Insulted the Courts

Prime Minister Modi is facing severe criticism for what is widely perceived to be his personal failure to bring back jallikattu as promised in time for this year’s Pongal festivities. After Modi tweeted his Pongal greetings to the people of Tamil Nadu, he was mercilessly pilloried on social media. The buck stops with the prime minister and he is paying the price for the ill-considered statements of assurance issued by two cabinet members (environment minister Prakash Javadekar and the junior minister for road transport, highways and shipping, Pon Radhakrishnan), senior BJP leader H Raja, and the BJP’s state president Tamizhisai Soundararajan to the effect that jallikattu will make a comeback during Pongal.

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Why removing and killing street dogs in India

 

Why removing and killing street dogs in India doesn't work. Jena is an Indian dog, born on the streets of a small tourist town in southern India. With her happy disposition and her copper coat she is stunningly beautiful, on the inside and out, even even with scabs and scars from living rough and one eye missing, cruelly taken with a brick that was thrown at her. She runs to greet those she knows are friends, a loving person that will feed and stroke her.

There are only a few of them in her life so far, her only understanding of kindness in this harsh world, she gives as much love back as she gets from them. After being caught by strangers and dropped off 50 miles away Jena made her way back to the streets where she was born, back home. When someone drives too closely by or comes at her aggressively she recoils, hunching small her lithe body in fear. Sadly, her fear is well founded for there are some that seek to hurt her, remove her from her home, kill her.

Indian dogs selected by nature not humans are perhaps the most alert, intelligent and hardy of their species.

Originating from the ancient pariah dogs they have always been present in Indian villages and cities. Drawings on prehistoric rock art at Bhimbetka show a man walking a medium size dog with erect ears and curved tail on a leash, representing the special relationship between humans and these dogs possibly tens of thousands of years ago.(S,Herman, 2008). Most of India's dogs are gentle, brave, loyal and loving and will only bite if provoked.

They are often called strays but what people don't realise is that most of them are not strays, they are not lost, not wild, not all orphaned, or without a home. While some of these dogs have been abandoned and some are owned most are community dogs living peacefully among people. "They are part and parcel of our society," Dr. Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs for PETA India says. "In most of the cities, it becomes a social system; in every village you'll find a dog fed by the local villagers. Though they don't claim to be the owners of the dog, they are the guardians." (M,Sarkar 2015).

These dogs are seen running, playing with the children, sleeping on someone's doorstep, prancing about with a chapati. They are an integrated and valuable part of society, they can be a source of protection, love and inspiration. They have a lawful right to share the community with people.

 

Yet in a country with the highest death rate of rabies and problems associated with dogs, many see them as a menace.

There is no doubt that the dog population needs to be managed in India just as it does in any country. At an estimated 30 million dogs in India, too many dogs on the streets is an animal welfare and a public health issue.

Unfortunately, fear and ignorance have led many Indian citizens and officials to see street dogs as nothing but a nuisance and to seek to eradicate them removing them from their territories and using inhumane methods such as poisoning and beating.

 

Removing and culling dogs is illegal, cruel and as I will explain unnecessary, for as a means to rid nuisance behaviour and rabies it does not work because for every dog killed, another comes in to take over that dog's territory.

Culling undermines the only scientifically proven method of dog management, Animal birth control (ABC) and rabies vaccination. Changing the current public perceptions of dogs and successful dog management is the solution so that Jena, and dogs like her and people in her community live together with pleasure and safety.

 

The government through local authority have been culling dogs for two decades or three decades but by this method the dog population has not reduced nor have the dog bites or incidence of rabies. As Rahul Sehgal, Asian director of HSI explains. "Dogs have an unique ecology, the only way that you can reduce the population is by ensuring a healthy population of sterilised and vaccinated dogs, who will prevent new dogs from coming into the territory." (A, Leach 2014) 'Culling' a word used instead of 'killing' of street dogs is now illegal in India. Whether owned, abandoned or born on the streets it is against the law to remove dogs to other areas. Street dogs may only be caught if they are to be taken for sterilisation, rabies inoculation or treatment for illness or injury. Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code and the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 state 'It is illegal for anyone to beat, kick, throw acid, over-ride, over-drive, torture, mutilate, kill for superstition, or extracting parts, to wilfully give an animal any injurious drug or substance, put out poisoned food, to purposefully injure or to subject unnecessary pain to a street animal.

And yet it happens all the time.

The constitution of India requires people to show compassion to all living beings.

While the central government of India has enacted rules under the prevention of Cruelty to Animals act, 1960 called the animal Birth control (Dogs) Rules 2001, to protect street dogs from cruelty, municipalities, (the local authority called panchayat) still remove and kill community dogs. While the law states that dogs can only be humanely euthanised if they are found to be aggressive, rabid and otherwise mortally ill (Sudhi Ranjan) panchayat in the state of Kerala recently indiscriminately killed 40,000 dogs including puppies.(Jayalakshmi K ) News of the Kerala massacre was bought to the worlds attention by social media. An eye witness account of a friendly healthy dog being injected with a lethal substance along with pictures of dead dogs piled into heaps on the street made the issue visible.

NGOS and individuals around the world sparked a call for a petition to boycott the tourist state of Kerala. The Animal Welfare board of India (AWBI) informed the Keralan government that its order on culling goes against a Supreme Court ruling banning killing of street dogs. (Jayalakshmi July 27 2015)

 

Kerela is not isolated in its illegal killing, it is commonly known that other states violate the rules by removing or killing dogs. I have seen for myself a dog's legs tied, clearly shot and thrown in the ocean to be washed a day later outside a high end tourist resort where the manager admitted they employed the gypsies “but only to shoot in the air to scare the dogs off.”

 

In a Country with Kafkaesque bureaucracy, laws are often not enforced. Police regard offences to animals as trivial and give the least of their time and attention. Police ignorance of the laws and of complaints leads not only to inaction but harassment. When people bring unlawful actions to their attention, the offences are often not dealt with. The public can submit a First Information Report (F.I.R) but the process is so cumbersome most don't. Often isn't safe to do so.

Regardless of the legality and morality of removing and killing dogs for population, nuisance and rabies control it does not work.

Those like Dr Menezes of 'People for elimination of stray troubles' that advocate removing or killing dogs don't understand the facts.. Dr Menezes rightly wants people to understand the seriousness and the risk of rabies but his claim that “ it is absolutely essential that all dogs be cleared from public places” is not correct (29th March, 2006) In the study by Singh and Choudhary, 66.6% of people would like to control dog population to reduce human rabies. 33.3% suggested poisoning, 17.7% shooting and 4% favoured killing the dogs by drowning. Sterilisation and immunization was suggested by only 5.7% to solve the rabies problem. In another study 42.2% of respondents felt that killing rabid animals is the best method for controlling rabies within the stray dog population. But as Herbert, Basha & Thanagaraj say “This is a flawed attitude that needs to be altered. There is no evidence that the removal of dogs alone has ever had a significant impact on dog population densities or on the spread of rabies.”

The reasoning goes like this. For every dog removed or killed another takes it place. If all are killed or removed from an area then in their absence rats, snakes, birds and cats populations will initially increase creating a bigger food supply. Along with the exposure to a large amount of

human waste dumped on the streets in India the vacant space will be soon filled up with dogs from other areas, dogs that are unlikely to be sterilized or vaccinated.

Territory between the new dogs will have to be established, nuisance behaviour like fighting and barking will increase.

Dogs are usually aggravated during the mating season. Unsterilised dogs that occupy the new territory prowl, fight and will breed, More dogs creates more fight for resources producing an unhealthy dog population. People caught up in the fights over mating and territory get bitten by unvaccinated dogs putting the whole neighbourhood at risk for rabies outbreaks.

Killing or removing dogs puts the communities right back where they started.

The only scientifically proven method of sustainably and humanely reducing street dog populations is mass animal birth control. In its strategic framework for eliminating the disease the world health organisation states “To eliminate rabies from India, animal health is the key.”(WHO) Inoculation and sterilised dogs are the best protectors to make a community safe, as they won't allow others to come on to their territory the area will be safe from rabies.

All the evidence from research and studies supports the fact that ABC programs of sterilization and vaccination together are successful if they are scaled adequately and intensively. Programs designed for targeting 70% of the population and then sustaining the population with consistency over a number of years will keep the dog population stable improving the health of the remaining dogs, a decline in nuisance behaviour, dog bites and incidences of human rabies.

In areas with good ABC Programs there is less incidence of pyometra, the venereal disease tvt and mange as dogs are treated or very sick dogs are euthansied.

'People for the Elimination of stray troubles' statement that ''sterilisation does not prevent rabies'' is misleading. Each dog sterilised in a ABC Program also receives rabies inoculation. While Dr. Abdul Rahman, of the Veterinary Association, says India is limping along with a “knee-jerk program of ad hoc projects” and that Sterilisation efforts have “not made a dent in controlling rabies”, he also says that a few cities have been successful, including Jaipur, Chennai and Tirupati. In Bangalore, where a successful ABC program operates the city municipal body confirms that there have been no reported rabies cases in dog for the past four years(M,R Abraham) The city of Jameshedpur with its intensive program in Jharkhand and others that are scaled adequately are also successful.

Dr Menezes comments further “There should be a public audit on the returns the taxpayers get from the money that is invested in this fruitless program.”and “that our well intentioned NGOs are totally incapable of achieving and documenting either of the targets”. Neither of these statements is true. While some ABC programs are found to be fake, not effective or falling short of welfare standards that is not a failure of the concept itself. The problems are to do with untrustworthy organisations, failure of correct procedures, lack of infrastructure, or differing understanding of what is required.

With commitment and resources sterilisation and vaccination can and will reduce dog populations, nuisance, and rabies. It is hard work but it can be done.

Misinformation like removal and killing and information given by the likes of Dr Sneezes impedes efforts to dog management.

He suggests that NGOs should promote dog ownership rather than allowing dogs on the street, while this is a good idea he needs to advocate for education in responsible pet ownership as 54% of rabies cases are due to owned dogs (Singh & Choudhary) not street (as he calls stray) dogs.

Misunderstanding of dog behaviour leads to bites and potential for rabies. Education is needed as to how to treat bites when they occur. India is a country where many health professionals, let alone citizens, don’t know how to treat a dog bite properly. Madhusudana. “... money should go to education and vaccination.... we need to educate, educate, educate.”(Mary rose Abraham). Improving Public health and welfare of these dogs depends on people's understanding and tolerance of dogs.

An integrated approach of humane dog management, community awareness and education is the solution. The media, particularly use of influential people that support humane dog management and acceptance of community dogs could be a useful tool. When people are given information to help them deal well with the issues in their lives subtle and powerful changes take place. There is strength in knowledge and new understanding, it undermines corruption and ignorance.

 

Education needs to be focused particularly on children as they are at the greatest risk of dog bites and they are the greatest force for change.

Awareness & Education is needed to dispell myths, the benefits of dog management; first aid & treatment for bites, and awareness of dog behaviour to prevent bites in the first instance. People need to accept that dogs are a part of their communities, always have been and always will be, and that these relationships of care, protection fun and friendship can be positive for dogs and humans alike.

Animal welfare isn't rocket science its more important than that. What people do, how they treat the dogs matters for the health and positive development of their communities.

Lasting solutions requires long term planning and implementation. It requires sufficient political commitment. While dog ecology is not understood, the law goes unenforced, corruption succeeds, dogs are removed and killed, dog population and rabies can not be controlled.

An article on August 25th In the Hindustan times Delhi titled ''Civic bodies tell Supreme Court they want to kill ferocious stray dogs.” was submitted by Sanjiv Sen an advocate (lawyer) for 3 municipals corps in Delhi that want to eliminate stray dogs. They say they pose a danger to the safety of human beings. Sen made his submission during a petition by 'People for the elimination of stray dogs' that want stray dogs to be killed if they are a nuisance.

Recently the Bombay High court had turned down the petitioners plea. Sen is asking the supreme court to consider the petition. (Bhadra Sinha). If this occurs there will be potential for mass killing.

 

We can not turn back time. The lives of those 40,000 dogs and thousands of others denied of their homes and killed cruelly can not be bought back but we can ensure this does not happen again not just for the welfare of Jena and other dogs but the for health and well being of the Indian people.

My message to the people of India is that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose being good to the community dogs. Keeping the dog population down and avoiding the fatal disease of rabies is being done for you and your children's benefit. If you feed and care for the dogs in your neighbourhood they won't be hungry and less likely to be diseased. If you befriend them you will find these intelligent loyal creatures will defend your house and person, protect, play and love you. When more people value this relationship there will be less abuse, the dogs will be less fearful it will be safer for people living there and it is easier for NGOS doing dog management to handle the dogs.

And you will discover the love of a dog, and by doing so you make the world a better, kinder place.

 

Linda O'Connor.

References

A, Leach Animals welfare: Why dogs are a development issue. Global development professional network. The Guardian.

May 2014

 

Bhadra Sinha 'Civic bodies tell SC they want to kill ferocious stray dogs.” Hindustan times Delhi August 25

 

K, Jayalakshmi Cull of 40,000 dogs in Kerala sparks calls for boycott of southern Indian state. IBT July, 2015

 

Mary-Rose Abraham. India has a ferocious dog problem but don't blame the dogs for it. The wire. 25/8/2015.first appeared on Mosaic and is republished under a Creative Commons licence. The 2015 PLOS study was part-funded by the Wellcome Trust, which publishes Mosaic.

Monica Sarkar. Indians states plan to cull stray dogs hits opposition. CNN.July 13, 2014

Mrudu Herbert, Riyaz Basha, Selvi Thangaraj 'Community perception regarding rabies prevention and stray dog control in urban slums in India.' Jnl of Infection & Public health.

Volume 5, Issue 6 Pges 374-380. December 2012

 

Dr Rozario, Menezes. Take rabies threat seriously Readers speak Herald, 29th March. On 'People for Elimination of stray troubles. 'Web site.

 

US Singh, SK Choudhary Knowledge, Attitude, Behavior and Practice Study on Dog-Bites and Its Management in the Context of Prevention of Rabies in a Rural Community of Gujarat

Department of Community Medicine, Pramukh Swami Medical College Karamsad, Anand Gujarat-388325., India

Steven. L Herman. Jan 2008. Harvard Extension school. The relationship between people and dogs in contemporary India.

Sudhi Ranjan. Rabies in Man and animals. Vet Public health and Epidemology. Lal Laiput Rai University of Veterinary and animal science. Hisar. Haryana. ISBN 978-81-322-1604-9. DOI

10 1007/978-81-322-1605-6

World Health Organisation. Rabies. Fact sheet No99. Updated

September 2014.

The human can do the least magic

Of all the species in the world, the human can do the least magic with his/her body. We cannot fly; we swim very feebly and that too above water. We cannot change colour or texture, we cannot make ourselves pregnant, we don’t have switch on and off lights on our heads, and we cannot see in the dark, we cannot control the colour or shape of our babies or even the sex and number…

 

Let’s look at some fascinating things that other animals do :

 

*The flatworm (Macrostomum hystrix) is the only animal known to inseminate itself in the head using a needle-like penis structure. In normal circumstances two flatworms will battle each other over which one will inject its sperm through its sharp stylet into the other but when a worm is alone it simply pokes itself in the head with its sharp needle and the eggs fertilize there.

 

*Female stink bugs (Podisus maculiventris) can control the colour of eggs they lay – from pale yellow to dark brown. When laying eggs on the upper surfaces of leaves, the stink bugs lay darker eggs; on the undersides of leaves, the bugs produce lighter-hued eggs. This ability to selectively control egg colour could help stink bug mothers improve their offspring’s chances of survival.

 

*Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) emit signals that interfere with each other’s hunting. Bats are 85% were less likely to catch prey when their competitors produced jamming signals that interfered with a rival’s ability to home in on an insect during the final moments of attack.. Human sonar/radar engineers have just invented jamming devices, but bats have been using them for 65 million years.

 

*Maculinea caterpillars, that parasitize ant colonies, coax worker ants to feed them by mimicking the sounds made by queen ants. This gives the caterpillars priority feeding status within the ant colony.

 

*When trying to escape flooding, ants join together to build rafts out of their own bodies, placing their young larvae and pupa at the bottom of the formation. The queen ant is sequestered in the middle of the raft. This results in a relatively high survival rate for both worker ants and the brood. The larvae and pupae are buoyant and their fat helps buffer them against cold-water conditions.

 

*The flying paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi) achieves long gliding flights by slithering through the air as it flattens its body and widens its ribs into a semi-circular shape. The shape of the gliding snake’s body maximizes aerodynamic performance.

 

*Chameleons change their colouring to avoid predation and to communicate with one another.  Complex colour changes in the veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) are predictive of different behaviours.

 

Chameleons with brighter stripes were more likely to start a fight, while those with brighter heads were more likely to defeat opponents.

 

*Female sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) often carry eggs fertilized by several different fathers in their 2 uteri. Only one shark emerges from each womb, however, which has grown big and strong by eating all of the other embryos.

 

*The Chinese soft-shelled turtle (Pelodiscus sinens), which lives in salty marshes, excretes urea—a major component of urine—through its mouths. Only 6 percent of the urea the turtles produce is excreted as urine from the kidneys and the single orifice used for waste matter and reproduction; the rest is expelled through the mouth where it mixes with salt water to become a urine-like liquid. The turtles avoid dehydration as a result of losing liquids through conventional urination. It also means they don’t have to replace lost fluids by drinking salty water, which would result in a toxic build up. Instead, they just gurgle some and spit.

 

*6 cm long Archer fish (Toxotes jaculatrix) spit out powerful and long jets of water to knock their prey from branches above the waterline of their mangrove habitats.

 

*Honeybees don’t sting when their hives are threatened by insect intruders. They inflict a nasty bite on enemies. Using their tiny mandibles, the bees inject an anaesthetic, called 2-Heptanone that immediately paralyzes pests, making it easier for the bees to eject them from the colony. The chemical acts as an anaesthetic that stuns the invaders for two minutes but does no lasting damage.

 

*Blind cavefish (Astrobelus pholeter), found only in the dark, fast-flowing waters of caves, and navigate with teeth protruding from the skin. These skin teeth, known as denticles, consist of a pulp cavity surrounded by dentine, and enamel are used for protection, cutting, reduce drag as the fish swims and to feel its way around in the darkness and strong currents. The teeth sense the direction of water flow and distance from the bottom, and send that information to the brain.

 

*California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) dive to depths of 300 meters and return to the surface swiftly without suffering  decompression sickness, which can kill human divers if they ascend too quickly The secret is that  they collapse their lungs at around 225 meters and then re-expand again at the same level on the ascent.  The air-processing alveoli— balloon-like structures of the respiratory tract that  ferry air to the lungs deplete , keeping nitrogen out of the bloodstream and ensuring that bubbles won’t form on the ascent. When the pressure decreases as the sea lion swims up, the oxygen in the upper airways expands into the lungs to ensure he doesn’t black out.

 

*The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) leads a solitary life in the dark, oxygen-depleted waters 3,000 meters below the ocean surface. It has 8 arms but no feeding tentacles. It has two retractable, thread-like filaments 8 times its body length. These thin filaments hang vertically and catch falling matter - the remains of plankton and the discarded skeletons of crustaceans, fish scales, diatoms, and faecal pellets. The filament is retrieved and the food is cleaned off.

 

*The dung beetle can pull 1.141 times its own body weight. That is comparable to a 200 LB (90 KG) man pulling 10 school buses at once.  The African dung beetle (scarabaeus satyrus) uses the Milky Way as a guide to steer its dung ball home.

 

*The Bombardier beetle sprays a toxic fluid containing hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone from a gland. The liquid is released at 100°C and causes a sensation of burning in contact with the skin. It can shoot 360° simultaneously all around him.

Can you do any of these things? And yet we feel superior.

To join the animal welfare movement contact  gandhim@nic.in,  www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Administration of Agra banned pigeon racing in the district

Last week the administration of Agra banned pigeon racing in the district. The administration of Lucknow followed soon after. These are very important landmark decisions.
Animal welfare people run into trouble with those who refuse to look at the reality of things and believe what they have been fed. One of these areas is animal racing for sport; and of that, pigeon racing.
The pigeon has been presented as an animated kite. Pigeon racing is passed off as a traditional sport – and only now, when the animal movement has picked up strength, through knowledge and the courage that comes with it, is the ugly truth coming to the surface.
Man likes to bet: whether with inanimate objects, like cards and dice, or human sports. It gives him an adrenalin rush. But traditional gaming can get boring, so he sets up new betting opportunities and these are usually animal based: dog fighting, dog racing, horse racing, cock fighting, pigeon racing, bulbul fighting, bull fighting, buffalo racing... even cockroach racing. Animals, who have not got a drop of vicious blood, in them are turned into killers and competitors and all of them die. Some are killed by their owners because they lose races, others die of wounds in these competitions.
Pigeon racing, or kabootarbaazi,  is a sport done by one society who believe that it was done by the Mughal rulers and it shows their past glory. The rest of India has paid little attention to it, thinking that it is a harmless game and that pigeons return home as they have an uncanny sense of what home is.
The homing pigeon sadly is a myth.
Is this a sport or hobby?  For the birds it is just torture. The birds are bred in tiny cages in dirty lofts, only to be taken out for training and racing. Paratyphoid, Canker, Coccidiosis, E-Coli, Ornithosis, Sour Crop, Diarrhoea and Newcastle disease are common, and sick birds are not treated but killed immediately. Crammed for days in appalling conditions before being forced to fly up to 1400 Km, pigeons are subjected to horrific abuse. Their wings are clipped to keep them from escaping and tied together with safety pins. Each wire cage or cardboard carton is crammed with birds unable to move.
Pigeons have no survival skills - knowing nothing of the outside world - and do not know how to forage for food or avoid predators. These birds were raised in captivity and cannot fend for themselves in the wild. Those who don't make it home will likely starve to death. They fly into objects they cannot see, in darker weather conditions, like electricity pylons or TV aerials. Most pigeon fanciers will have their pigeons return home with wounds or missing feathers; if they return at all .When these pigeons fly above large bodies of water, they often get tired and, with nowhere to land, many drown.
Pigeon racers are simply professional betters who make thousands on every race.
Training starts when the bird is 3 months old, with trial runs beginning with a distance of 2 kilometers and going up to 70 kilometers. 60% birds get lost, are eaten by hawks/kites or electrocuted by wires during the training. Birds who survive, but are unlikely to win races, are “basket culled” - killed by suffocation, drowning, neck-breaking, gassing, or decapitation. One typical owner buys 12 baby pigeons before he finds one he can use. The others are killed.
Racing starts when a pigeon is 8 months old and carries on till he/she is 5 years of age after which the pigeon is killed (and eaten). Training is called “tossing”, which involves taking the birds to a place and releasing them. Training birds involves restrictions on their diet for 45 days, during which time they are mainly fed almonds, raggi (millet) and calcium tablets. Some pigeon racers use performance-enhancing drugs on their pigeons.
Wing and tail feathers are clipped so new ones grow – because they are supposed to be lighter. Racing pigeons are fed only once a day. Breeders are fed thrice. Young pigeons are usually made to fly 8 kms and then lured back with strewn grain and a bar of salt on the rooftop. A piece of cloth attached to a stick is waved to signal their take off flight and again when they return. The birds are unable to navigate home in poor light so, in case they remain in the sky after sunset, owners light halogen lamps and keep a group of captive flightless pigeons around it to help the bird in the sky to locate the spot where it should land.
Racing pigeons are released far away with a coded chit tied to their legs. The first to inform the code to the organiser is the owner of the winning pigeon. A day prior to the competition, a seal is imprinted on the pigeons’ tails as identification.
Of a 100 pigeons, less than ten survive several races. These survivors participate in longer distance races for which they are taken in trains to the starting points and released to fly back to their homes. The distance from Gwalior to Chennai is 1165 kilometers. Pigeons have to cover it in 68 hours. In this race 50% lose their way and straggle home after a year.
A report commissioned by Scottish National Heritage and the Scottish Homing Union found that on average 56% of birds released each season do not make it home. In 1996 more than 34,000 birds were lost in Scotland and 8,000 returned injured. Between 2010 and 2012, PETA conducted an investigation into pigeon racing in the US. It found that there were casualty rates of 60 percent or more among birds during races and training due to weather, predators, electrical lines, and hunters. At the 2011 American Racing Pigeon Union Convention, only 827 out of the original 2,294 birds returned from training flights. In some Channel races, 90% birds have gone missing presumed dead.
Why do the birds bother to come back?
Pigeons are monogamous birds. A couple is inseparable, sharing the same box, kissing each other and breeding. Both male and female sit on the nest and both feed the hatchlings with milk produced in their throats.
One of the terrible ways in which the pigeon is made to fly is by separating it from his/her mate and children.  In a process, known as widowing, one bird is taken away to race back to the loft. In very long races, the male often does not return. But the female birds will fly determinedly back to their family so it is  typically the females that are entered into long and difficult races that often result in the death of the pigeon, like the race to the UK from Barcelona.
This is not a sport, because no birds voluntarily participate. Like cockfighting and dogfighting, pigeon racing is all about gambling. It generates lakhs of rupees in the blackmarket in illegal gambling proceeds and violates gambling, racketeering, and tax-evasion laws. As Government of India does not permit the import of these birds, some individuals and organisations, such as the Central Madras Homer Club - who breed and train pigeons, import eggs of particular bloodlines pretending they are poultry and hatch them – flout the law and bring in disease.
Is the pigeon the only bird harmed? No, in pigeon racing areas, predators like hawks and kites are regularly shot down illegally by pigeon owners.
The Supreme Court has ruled that unnatural animal racing for entertainment cannot happen. In the judgement of Abdulkar Mohamad Azam Sheikh versus State of Gujurat, it was held that it is a fundamental right of all birds to be free in the open sky/air and not caged illegally. Through order no. 2243/pts.D.A. dated 27-09-11, all captivity of birds is illegal and it is the fundamental right of all birds to be free in open sky and not to be caged.
These are the clubs, that I know of’ that should stop by law or their members should be sent to jail :
The Calcutta Racing Pigeons Club; The January pigeon race held in the Jama Masjid area of Old Delhi ; The Hyderabad Homer Pigeon Club which began in  2012; 7 clubs of Tamil Nadu including Thanjavur, 5 clubs of Kolkata and another 5 clubs in Karnataka with Bengaluru being prominent.The Kancheepuram Homer Pigeon Association and the Ernakulam Open Pigeon Flying Tournament, in which pigeons belonging to around 200 persons participate. If you know of any groups let me know.
 
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
 
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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