I am back with some more food for thought.
Sustainability in animal welfare or any kind of social justice initiative for that matter, depends predominantly on the co-operation and effective partnership between individuals, NGOs, and governmental authorities.
I’m not saying that it’s an easy job. Our bureaucracy, and in general, the way our country is wired, and its innumerable real-life challenges, can sometimes make it extremely difficult to get official aid in tough cases. But with diligence and faith in the system, it almost always works out in the end.
Take Rangamala case for instance. She had been walked all the way from Nashik into Thane by her owners, without an appropriate permit for the entire trip. Apparently, they were visiting the Kumbh Mela with Rangamala in Nashik – an insane thing to do amidst lakhs of people in an uncontrollable crowd.
After a hour and half long meeting with the Thane Range Forest officer and the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Thane, we were able to convince
them that the case of Rangamala was definitely an offence. Not just the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, but the Order of the then Addl PCCF Shri Suresh Thorat and the stipulations of the PCCF, Maharashtra had been violated.
An offence was finally registered by Forest officials against the owner of Rangamala, who later also initiated an inquiry against the owner of another30-year-old female elephant for allegedly violating a forest department guideline that bans the entry of pachyderms into municipal limits of Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
Then again, there are incidences where forest officials themselves take initiative, seize/rescue wild animals and then bring them to us for treatment, after which we all work together for proper rehabilitation of the animal. Like Kanoon, the full grown blind adult monkey, rescued by the Forest Department, and treated by us. Or the pair of peacocks that officers of the Mumbai range of the Thane Forest Department seized and rescued, after a police complaint filed in Mira-Road. The pair required a rescue center facility till their wings (which were tempered and cut) grow back again and further rehab / release could be planned. Having no facility in the city the Forest Department decided to shift the pair to the Katraj rescue center in Pune where the pair will now stay till they recover. Soon after, we loaded the pair in the rescue van of the department in the presence of the acting RFO which headed to the rescue center at Pune. It was a proud and happy moment for all parties involved – another triumph over illegal wildlife trade.
This kind of co-operative behavior doesn’t apply to wildlife officials alone. The Maharashtra police are an extremely competent set of officials, bogged down by red tape and terribly brutal crimes that they have to investigate, thereby leaving little time for animal cruelty cases. However, more often than not, they take an active interest in our FIRs and take appropriate action as well. And we are sometimes taken by surprise by their forthcoming willingness and proactive behaviour. For instance,we once had to travel a long way to lodge an FIR against illegal bullfighting issues, but once we reached the police station, we found to our surprise that the FIR had already been lodged by Senior Inspector himself.
Police are the implementing agencies for all Indian laws. Animal activists need to ensure that the Police Department is updated with all laws, amendments, and typical case studies in animal cruelty. Helping us to do that the BPRD ( Bureau Of Police Research and Development, Ministry of Home Affairs ) has issued a Circular requesting Police Departments of all Indian states and U.T.s to hold Sensitisation programmes of their Force in their respective states. Thane SPCA sent a letter of request for the same to Shri Sanjeev Dayal, the DGP, Maharashtra Police as well as Dr. Venkatesan, Addl DGP ( Training ) and Dr. Ravindra Singal, Special IGP, Training. Under their instructions, we have flagged off a series of Police Sensitisation Workshops for the Maharashtra Police Department.
So as you can see, the future is bright, where co-operation, understanding, and a common goal of animal welfare binds us all together and mobilises us into even headed and sustainable action. And as I see it currently, the future looks very very, VERY bright in Indian animal welfare.