Indian humane societies clash with PETA & government over wildlife rescue role

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2007:
Indian humane societies clash with PETA & government over wildlife rescue role

by Merritt Clifton

BANGALORE–PETA/India, the Karnataka state forestry agency,
and the Central Zoo Authority of India are aligned against all five
of the local humane societies in a turf war over who has the right to
house and treat wildlife.
Summarized The Hindu on February 27, 2007, “In a petition before
the Supreme Court, PETA seeks the closure of all unrecognised zoos
and unauthorized rescue and rehabilitation centers,” allegedly
because “poor infrastructure has led to unnecessary pain and
suffering of animals housed in them.”

The CZA recognizes 15 zoos and wildlife parks in Karnataka
state, but does not recognize six privately operated zoos, and
“has withheld the applications filed by People for Animals, the
Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre in Bannerghatta run by
Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, the Karuna animal shelter, and
the Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Trust,” The Hindu reported.
The only approved non-governmental wildlife rescue facility
in the Bangalore area appears to be the bear rehabilitation center
operated by Wildlife SOS on land within Bannerghatta National Park.
Access is closely restricted by the park administration.
Visiting the CUPA Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre in
January 2007, soon after visiting the River Trail Nature Center and
The Grove nature center in the Chicago area, and the renowned
Wisconsin Humane Society wildlife rehabilitation wing in Milwaukee,
I found that the quality of animal care was about the same.
The CUPA facilities hold far fewer animals, with only one
full-time staff member, and operate under limitations including lack
of a working well on the premises, but CUPA has much more space to
expand into, as funding permits.
CUPA returns to the wild any animals who can be released
safely. Some birds who were released successfully some time ago
still fly back for daily visits.
Meanwhile, official governmental wildlife care centers
around India often have their own problems–and have also come into
conflict with the Central Zoo Authority.
“At the Forest Department’s Deer Research and Animal Rescue
Centre in Bidhannagar,” reported Rakeeb Hossain of the Hindustan
Times on January 2, 2007, “rescued animals are crammed into small
transport cages with hardly any space to move. They have no proper
housing, round-the-clock medical facility, full-time veterinarian,
or veterinary unit. There are hardly any employees trained to handle
the animals.
“Though it was set up a decade ago as a rescue centre,”
Hossain explained, “the department also tried to use the facility
as a deer research park, without necessary permission or facilities.
After the Forest Department applied to the CZA for recognition of the
center, CZA scientific officer Bipul Chakraborty in June 2006
visited the Bidhannagar centre. He found 188 animals of 14 species,
cramped in a space ‘only two hectare in area and surrounded by the
Krishnapur water channel, the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, and
the residential area of Salt Lake.'”
Among the animals were 15 spotted deer, 15 rhesus macaques,
seven langurs, five bonnet macaques, a jackal, a palm civet, 33
soft-shelled turtles, 63 star tortoises, 15 parakeets, and 25
munias, Hossain said.
Even if all of the Animal Rescue Centres now accredited by
the CZA expand to their maximum projected capacity, they will be far
from enough to accommodate all the former captive wildlife and
rescued wild animals in India who need safe housing.
Major Indian humane societies such as CUPA, Compassionate
Crusaders of Calcutta, the Bombay SPCA, the Animal Help Foundation
of Ahmedabad, Help In Suffering, and the Visakha SPCA of
Visakhapatnam have always integrated wildlife care into their
missions, building facilities to house wild species in small
Recently, however, many have been asked to handle more than
just the occasional wild animal. Crackdowns on wildlife trafficking
have produced a surfeit of confiscated animals such as star
tortoises, common in captivity but rare in the wild. Usually these
animals cannot be returned to the wild because of the risk that they
may have been exposed to diseases while held in filthy, crowded
conditions by traffickers, and might take the diseases back into the
wild population.
Star tortoises, for example, seldom seen in shelters as
recently as five years ago, are now relatively ubiquitous. Because
they are endangered, they cannot be adopted out. Because they have
street value, they require special security precautions to keep
But star tortoises are the least of the longterm wildlife
care problems now confronting Indian humane organizations, who find
themselves expected to house animals that government agencies, zoos,
and the Animal Rescue Centres either cannot or will not
accommodate–and also find themselves subject to regulations written
for exhibition facilities, that they have difficulty meeting.

Monkeys are the biggest problem.

As Animal Birth Control programs reduce the populations of
street dogs, rhesus macaques and Hanuman languors are increasingly
becoming an urban nuisance, much more likely to bite and do property
damage than the dogs whose places they take around trash heaps.
The conventional municipal response is so far mostly just to
round monkeys up and dump them in the countryside, but urbanized
monkeys typically find their way back into town, much as dogs did
when the same method was tried with them.
Most Indian humane societies have so far avoided taking in
street monkeys, other than occasional special cases who have been
injured in accidents.
The Chennai-based Blue Cross of India, however, has gained
experience at housing whole troupes by taking in an entire laboratory
colony several years ago. The survivors now occupy two large cages
at one of the Blue Cross Animal Birth Control clinics on the Chennai
Blue Cross chief executive Chinny Krishna doubts that large
numbers of monkeys really can be given good lives, within the
limitations of funding and space that humane societies deal with. He
has also argued for decades that doing Animal Birth Control, rather
than sheltering large numbers of dogs, cats, or cattle, should be
the focal role of Indian humane organizations.
Yet the Blue Cross does shelter hundreds of dogs, cats, and
cattle, because the public and donors expect it, and because Chinny
Krishna himself admits that he cannot refuse shelter to an animal in
urgent need.

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