Cattle gifts put habitat, humans, and animals at risk in southern India

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2012:

Cattle gifts put habitat, humans, and animals at risk in southern India

KOCHI, Kerala, India–A livestock gift scheme meant to increase the incomes of 30 families living within the nominally protected Vazhachal Forest, within the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve buffer zone, is putting the forest, the families, and the donated cattle at risk, Wildlife Division of the Kerala Forest Research Institute chief E.A. Jayson told K.S. Sudhi of The Hindu in May 2012.

“Though the tribal people are supposed to stall-feed the cattle, and pasturing cattle inside the forest reserve is banned under the Kerala Forest Act, the cattle are often let free to feed in the forest, “wrote Sudhi.

Warned Jayson, “The presence of cattle can attract predators such as tigers, leopards, and wild dogs.” Leopards have already taken some of the cattle, reported Sudhi, “though no instances of them attacking humans have occurred.”

The cattle distribution is conducted by the Kerala State Tribal Development Department. Sudhi did not identify the charity donating the cattle. Commented former Indian minister for social welfare and animal protection Maneka Gandhi in 2006, “Charities woo the ethical shopper with promises of helping the poor in developing countries [but] it is madness to send goats, cows and chickens to areas where they will add to the problems of drought and desertification.”

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