Animal Matters No 23: 1st February, 2013

Dear Members and Friends,

As you are reading this, 120 magnificent people are cold, probably a little terrified, and brave beyond imagining as they wait on the Southern Ocean to block whale-killing ships en route from Japan arriving for their mid-winter whale-blood bath.

These Sea Shepherd heroes are working under the leadership of Siddharth Chakrabarty, Captain of the Sea Shepherd ship, the Steve Irwin. Captain Chakrabarty writes in a recent journal entry – hundreds of minke and other whales rise from the depths to dazzle the crew every day. He says it feels like a sanctuary. The air is frigid. There must be a tingling sense of wonder as the crew fathoms the mysterious lives of the animals and fish whose lives they are there to save. To think of it thrills me, peering into a heaven where the animals are free: no power lines, no horns, no pavement.

But each day includes drills and manoeuvres so as to be perfectly prepared for whatever aggressive assaults the whale killers may launch in their greedy, de-sensitized and illegal harpooning frenzy. How I would love to loll in long icy days, wonder-struck at the natural beauty, tenderly touched by the sight of healthy magnificent whales and fish sliding, spinning, reaching in their watery pastures. But would I ever have the guts to face the whale killers?
Those young people are standing on the prow of the ship, non-violent in a sea which will likely, within hours, rage with the blasts of exploding harpoons. I can’t say they’ll win because no whales will be lost or no blood will be shed. Whales will be lost. Blood will be shed. But they’ll win because every time we act selflessly in defence of the weak, we win.

Fruits of Collaboration: Lots to report from Pune – after an exceptional day with the city’s motivated and passionate activists, the next meeting has been planned, and the group has already started working on not only their own individual actions, also to help introduce pet shop rules in Pune. Here is a summary, feedback and photos
Meanwhile, the local federation in Jaipur today is participating in a member organised birding fair that attracts thousands in the pink city. Last week, JFAPO reacted quickly after hearing the sad news of two horses dying in the same polo match. We released to the press information on the realities of Polo – here’s more

Around 24 capacity building workshops helped us train ourselves to protect animals at India for Animals 2012. We videoed several of these for those who couldn’t attend all – here’s a starter

Living Free: Dan will be leafleting in Kolkatta soon – the last stop of the veg outreach tour –it has led to so much more, with individuals animated and activists planning more activities in their areas. Vibrant and independent outreach – all over the country. We are now going into the next phase of our outreach for Living Free– so get in touch today and get involved.

In an op ed piece published in Times of India last week,,  Lalit Mohan blasts animal protectors who single out dogs or cows but, in the writer’s view, unfairly ignore the plight of pigs. Good that pigs got a spotlight. But he unfairly makes every effort to malign animal protectors with suggestions that they care more about dogs than those bitten by them. Two things – veg outreach, is a blanket hope that all animals are spared the butcher knife; and this stray dog “menace” business needs a rest – people kill people in astoundingly greater numbers than dogs ever, ever do, but no one calls for the removal or extermination of the "human menace."

FIAPO recently wrote to Telegu actor N.Balakrishna to support the ban on the brutal blood sport of Jallikattu. We were alerted to his presence at a Jallikattu event in Chittoor through our vigilant animal protection network. Endorsement of this horrific sport by popular icons only undermines the MoEF ban and sends out a wrong message to the susceptible public, thus continuing the tradition of cruelty to the long suffering bulls.

Puja writes: Recently I had an opportunity to present our captive dolphin campaign at the Sunplugged/Prakruti environment festival organized by Sanctuary Asia in Mumbai. Along with a presentation, we saw some footage and a brief documentary highlighting the horrific cruelty meted out to dolphins during drive captures. Participants were visibly moved – its hard not to be after the cruelty behind dolphin shows is exposed. There are now plans of action groups to be set up, and more screenings to be organised by activists locally.

The recent death of elephant Satyageetha at the Sai Baba Ashram at Puttaparthi highlighted the plight of temple elephants across the country. FIAPO has responded by writing to the Ashram and relevant government authorities to ensure another elephant is not gifted/donated due to the lack of appropriate resources at the ashram which has already led to the death of two elephants in its care.

We Care Srinagar: Much unlike humans, dogs do not attack unless provoked. And this is true for all the community dogs that live in our neighbourhoods. More in 'We Care Srinagar' article written by Bibek Debroy as published in the Kashmir Images here

A reminder to book for those who haven’t registered for the National Dog Welfare Conference organised by Dogs Trust scheduled for 27 and 28 February 2013 in Chennai. More here

In focus: The Happy Foundation for Animal Welfare
A new member, with new objectives – the Happy Foundation is not just your regular organisation looking after animals. Instead, they choose to raise much needed resources to let some of the best organisations continue to focus on their very important task of providing the best animal care. The Happy Foundation also offers animal communication services, that can help people understand their companion animals better. For more info,

In America they say he “fall down go boom.” It harks back to the broken English of a toddler. Well, I fell down went boom about 10 days ago. Have you fallen lately? It’s such a rude thud! And before you’ve even managed to stand up again you wonder: is this The Big One? Do I have dirt in my nostrils? Have I aged a sudden five years? Are those kids over there laughing? (yes, they are.)

In the coming days I used a bamboo pole as a cane and dragged myself sorrowfully – my nose grew, and the unattractive grimace lines between my eyebrows intensified. The fall uglified me. And yet my neighbours became friendlier. I must no longer have seemed so stuck up in my Great Purposefulness of Animal Protection. For the past week, I’ve been a common hobbler, with new popularity. “Erikaji! Aunty! Kaise chalrio ho?!” I wave my cane and we both smile, equalized. Our abilities differ – like most animal protectors – but we all share the same powerful and equalising hopes and wishes. Everybody mortal. Everybody gettin’ older. Everybody fall down go boom once in a while.

Help animals in your own way; remember – no action is too small.

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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