Programmes for improving Animal Welfare


Maneka Gandhi


(Bihar Times) I have just finished reading dozens of issues of the Sikkim Express, a paper I write for. What I am extremely impressed about is the space and the detailed attention they give to environmental and conservation issues. On one side of the front page the headline says , “Chief Minister meets Sonia Gandhi” and a parallel and bolder headline says “Rock Python Saved !” Every day there is a lot of space given to issues of water , land and animals – real issues of importance , rather than which socialite was caught with jewellery and what she did in jail for one night.
Many years ago , when I was Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board and Minister , I had sanctioned some money to make an animal welfare hospital in Sikkim to a group of vets. I had sanctioned many hospitals in Manipur etc but the failure rate in the Northeast was so high and the money /ambulances disappeared so frequently that I did not even bother to follow this one up.
But this hospital got made by Thinlay Bhutia who gradually got the cooperation of the State Government.
Some years later an Australian group of vets called Vets Beyond Borders led by a vet called Dr Catherine Schuetze whose commitment is to Improving animal welfare and public health in developing communities came to India. VBB works with local governments and organizations to establish effective veterinary based programmes . They undertake the clinical training of local veterinary personnel to build their skills. They supply much needed medications and surgical equipment and facilitate the funding of buildings and important infrastructure such as kennels to hospitalize treated animals. 
Catherine is a Buddhist and her interest in Buddhism led her to Sikkim , Ladakh and Dharmshala. Her group, VBB started two programmes in India : The Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health (SARAH) Program in partnership with the Government of Sikkim  and the Ladakh street dog project in partnership with the Ladakh Animal Care Society. Now they have started work in Karnataka as well.
In the last three years , with the cooperation of the enlightened Sikkim state government , the training of local vets and paravets and the project of sterilizing and vaccinating dogs was so successful that  the government has decided to make it a permanent part of  government  work.
On 25th April the State Government made a separate division called SARAH for implementation of a state wide programme for animal welfare , rabies control and dog population control under the Veterinary Department. The Sikkim Government Gazette No 133 has published it and it has been included in the official state budget. This is the first Indian state government to do so ( even though the Goa Government has been extremely professional as well. But that is not so much the intention of the Government as much as the determination of all the Goan Municipalities and Dr Norma Alvares , the only Padma Shree in India for Animal Welfare.). This means that the programme which delivers sterilization, public education campaigns and animal health clinics will continue permanently.
 Not only that : the Animal Husbandry Division has also allowed the SARAH program staff to travel to other states and countries to assist in training staff from other programs. I am told they are very skilled and dedicated staff and are good teachers.
 As a result of the success of the SARAH Programme in Sikkim, Vets Beyond Borders  was invited by the Royal Government of Bhutan to assist in drafting a National Rabies Control and Dog Population Management Plan and to provide surgical training to Bhutanese vets and nurses.
This year, in February 2009, VBB started a new project called  Project Vet-Train  to improve the welfare of animals in India by refining the skills of all Indian veterinarians and paraveterinarians. In collaboration with the Government of India and the Animal Welfare Board of India, VBB has established a surgical training programme for Indian vets and nurses, to enhance and standardise the quality of veterinary services provided to animal welfare groups in India. Dr Ian Douglas and his team started training vets at the Central Government  National Institute of Animal Welfare in Faridabad and has trained hundreds who we hope will now pass on their skills to other vets.
I came across a group from Hyderabad which had been trained by VBB . They have been employed by the Bareilly Municipality to do their sterilization programme for dogs. The  IVRI ( Indian Veterinary Research Institute) located in Bareilly doctors were so impressed with their surgery skills that they have offered to host the programme for Vets Beyond Borders so that they can train the vets of Uttar Pradesh.
The next phase of training will commence in October 2009 – so if you want to apply as a vet , paravet or NGO that is involved in animal welfare you can write to
catherine@vetsbeyondborders.org , www.vetsbeyondborders.org , 
Ph: +91-(0)9816619149 (India mobile)
Let me use this column to congratulate the Government of Sikkim. I wish every state government was so sensitive to the needs of its people.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in



Firsrt of all ithak Maneka Gandhi for great personal effort to ensure safety and wellbeing of animals and birds.

I will draw her attention towards the continuity of life and existence of these beings which has been greatly threatened by our poor planning and lack of understanding of the real cause of their dwindling number and decimation itself. .

It is heartening to see that now greater attention is given to the bigger animals like -----tigers and big cats,elephants,rhinos,hippos etc but the smaller species like-------, wolvesjackals,rabbits,mongoose,lizards,foxes,snakes,scorpions,insects,butterflies,ants,worms,crabs,leaches,shells,fishes,birds like neelkanth,vulters ,kites,woodpeckers,earthworms,hariyals,doves,baters,bagers,egrets,storks,sandpipers etc etc are not getting due attention.as a result these smaller animals have either disappeared or are going to disappear.

It may be noted that the main cause of their disappearance are----flagrant use of pesticides.and other chemicals which are finishing them genetically and instead of multiplying they are disappearing fast-----no private or public effertos are being made to save them through proactive efforts------Banjaras,Nomads and foresters are killing themm without any check .

These creatures are losing their habitat regularly due to city expansion ,hphazard development ,reduction of green and reserved area,villagers greed to occupy more area after destroying their living places.

Previously when we visited our village forty years back ,upto sixties we could hear voices of jackals ,watch packs of woves ,foxes,birds---------snakes ,crabs,shells,scorpions etc in rainy seasons.Now everything is a past memory.

Easiestway to preserve and retain them is to reserve wild ,natural,fullyand legally protected corners of land in city park and surround ing areas,resrve and protected fields,at least ten acres in every village by legislation.Every body should welcome this and educate villagers to use only natural manures etc.and then only we will be happy tosee and save these smaller animals which is necessiry to save bigger animals.

Dhirendra P Singh,



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