Animal Matters. No 28: 12th April, 2013

Dear Members and Friends,

An animal-loving friend came to visit last week. She brought her older brother (pushing 60.) She adores him. I found out almost accidentally that he hunts for dolphins (yes, dolphins!) on elaborate fishing expeditions.

I have harboured hatred for hunters since kindergarten. At nap time, we found our own particular “blankie” from the pile, then lay down to give the teacher a chance to go for a smoke and a cup of coffee. Many of the kids fell asleep during nap time; I prepared for a good cry. Most days Miss Weller had the idea that we would be lulled by listening to a record of Bambi—the Walt Disney animated classic about the life of a deer. Bambi includes this famous episode: Bambi and his mother are grazing in a meadow. Suddenly his mother senses danger. “Run Bambi, Run! And if you can’t see me behind you just keep running!” Mother and Bambi scramble toward the thicket as fast as they can. A piercing blast is heard, but Bambi keeps running. “We made it!” he says with relief. “Mother? We made it!” …”Mother?”…”Mother!”….”Mother!”

I had to spend almost three days with my friend’s brother. He was affable.  “Dolphin hunter…dolphin hunter…” kept swirling in my head, but I hugged him at the end of their stay and stood within myself bewildered at the braid of my hatred and affection.

There is a religious saying: “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” Even when the sinner is a dolphin hunter or a whale harpooner? Yes, even when. We manage it with our dairy-consuming families all the time.
We in animal protection deserve a lot of credit for grappling with such paradoxes every day. None of us can be glib. Most of us are compositions of good and bad. We remember the loving grandparents who coddled us, and what they still eat today. We leaflet against their practice, and if we’re lucky, rub their feet at night.
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Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: The past week has been an eventful one, the most important being the launch of Pune FAPO. The energy and involvement of this young city in animal protection felt refreshing, even in the hot summer heat. Minutes and photos available here http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12471 Another exciting event for raising awareness on dog bite prevention and vaccination of dogs against rabies is on the cards in Kochi tomorrow. We have also written – as a collective of animal protection bodies in Kerela – to all municipalities and municipal corporations in Kerala to work with local organisations and start ABC and similar drives in their areas. Most importantly, organisations from across the state are due to arrive tomorrow for their first event together and to form the third collective of the country! And the one which started it all – Jaipur is gearing up to present itself at the regional conference of AWBI.
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Speakers Corner: A difficult topic – ‘No one wants dogs to die, but ABC must go on’ – and there are several arguments, for both sides, and then some more food for thought. I am still pondering over all the different views, and as with many questions in our movement, there is no win-win answer. Here are some of the responses that were shared on googlegroups. http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12479
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Two posts open with FIAPO – campaign coordinator for farmed animals and communications coordinator for farmed animal issues. http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12468 and http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12467
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Crawford market has long been the bane of the animal protection movement in Mumbai. Animals regularly suffer in appalling conditions and despite several actions from activists, the violations of the PCA act continue unabated here. FIAPO has now launched a nation wide call to action, to ensure that the pet sellers of crawford are shut down and we have begun pressurising the authorities in Mumbai to take swift and severe action. Sign the petition at www.fiapo.org/crawford.php to ensure that animal cruelty at crawford ends once and for all.
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Baywatch…
Puja writes: Last week, environmentalists and animal protectionists from Kerala came together to oppose the plans for the dolphinariums – this is a significant step – especially in Kerala – where the regional identity is so strong. Local organisations like All Kerala Rivers Protection Council, Green Earth, All Residents Council of Ernakulam, and individuals like the ex-Vice Chancellor Calicut University – M.K. Prasad, students from Albert College, and other individual environmental and animal activists met in Kochi on 2nd April, to learn, discuss and act to end captivity of dolphins. And they all united in their decision to ensure that such projects do not come up in Kerala. See http://www.fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12472. More action are now being planned across the country – to get active in your area, email me at puja@fiapo.org
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Would you believe ivory articles, tiger nails, horns of antelopes, snakeskins, red sandal wood, seashells, herbs and orchids were all being smuggled using our postal system? http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12453
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A recent study on the proximity of leopards to human habitats, has invited several opinions. LINK Here is one by Mazoomdar, which warns particularly against applying the same principles to larger carnivores, amongst other things. http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12461
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Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: Over the last couple of weeks into outreach, I have been reading more about the treatment of farm animals. I hail from Kolkata, where Rasgulla is an icon. The entire country considers dairy products as cruelty-free and even confirmed vegetarians use leather. If Kolkatans were exposed to the horrors of the dairy industry, I’m sure the Rasgulla would be replaced. And I hope that we’ll change the perception, soon. And here are two articles this week to make a start http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12466 and http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12465
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Last fortnight, a landmark judgement by India’s supreme court ensured that cancer drugs remained within the purchasing power of the masses. This decision benefits not just millions in India, but across the developing world. It was a proud day for all who stand for justice. It also shows us that it is possible to counter the juggernaut of exploitation with sound strategy and loads of persistence – the Novartis case went on for 8 years. We are also very lucky that Anand Grover, the lawyer who argued the Novartis case, is going to represent FIAPO in forthcoming litigation. More here http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12478
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I was sad to see this report of declining populations of Parakeets in Indore – like many other birds, in many other cities. http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12446
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Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity Board (MPSBB) may just have found a way to make companies extracting and using coal pay up. MPSBB claim that coal –  a fossil fuel formed when ancient plants get buried in the crust of the earth for million of years – is a biological resource. Companies would then need to pay a fee for utisiling this resource. If pulled off, this will be a boost to the effort of conserving biological sources. http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12473
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Honeybees are dying at alarming rates—about half, in areas where a fairly new chemical pesticide is used. The companies producing the pesticide– Syngenta and Bayer—are vigorously opposing environmentalists’ efforts to ban the killer http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12463 If you have any friends or family involved in farming please actively discourage them from using any chemical pesticides. It is a wonder that those companies we naively once associated with “getting well” have turned out, in so many cases, to wilfully, knowingly hurt the health of plants, insects, birds and all the animals along the food chain, for the sake of a buck.
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In focus: APOWA
This week, we introduce to you Action for Protection of Wild Animals(APOWA). They have been actively involved in animal protection along the biologically rich coastline of Odisha, doing animal rescue and turtle conservation. Inculcating kindness in children and campaigning against animal sacrifice are among their other initiatives, which have earned them recognition at the state and national levels. Read more about them here http://www.fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12476
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I decide to buy the gigantic sprite bottle–2.5 litres, it's catastrophically huge–to round out a healthy meal of kachoris on slightly dry, white, bought bread, which is good for soaking up the excess oil. I accented this elegant repast with "Naughty Tomato" Lays potato chips. I had virtually no choice: Indra, helper over the last 20 years, had a ch-ch-chutti. (those are my trembling lips stuttering in fright whenever she takes an "off.") And sure 'nuff, the Sprite had something major wrong with it (in addition to the price of Rs 63 and a plastic bottle the size of a bathtub which will never ever decompose.) It tasted like battery brine. Like if you slugged down the water that your stamp pad had dropped into about a week before. For adding yet one more plastic bottle to the hundreds of billions of plastic bottles bought and thrown out each year it was payback time from the cosmos.

Next time it will be 7-up for certain – just kiddin.' Next time it will be water from an earthen mutka collected from rain water. And I accept, that its a two-steps-forward-one-step-back road to ethical living. And sometimes, I take a few steps backward and get a bottle of Sprite. But that's OK.

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

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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