Wildbuzz: Beauty and the betting beast

  • Vikram Jit Singh, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2015 21:57 IST
A dog on the operating table at the polyclinic, Tarn Taran. (PHOTO BY MANDEEP SINGH)

Animal rights activist Navdeep Sood was horrified when he recently came across the practise of docking tails/cropping ears of pet dogs at Government Veterinary Polyclinic, Tarn Taran. However, he could do little as veterinarians claimed immunity of law. On the other hand, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) termed this a ''mutilation'' amounting to ''cruelty''. In 2011, the AWBI issued an advisory to the Veterinary Council of India (VCI), which banned such practises following the model adopted by England, Wales, Scotland, etc.

Confused over this, Sood sought clarification from AWBI chairman, Maj Gen RM Kharb (retd), who responded via email by stating: ''High court of Madras has stayed the advisory of the AWBI on case filed by Kennel Club of India (KCI). As such, till final hearing takes place and our view point is accepted, dogs and pups will keep suffering from these cruel practices.'' However, fact is the Madras HC quashed the VCI's ban.

Updating the status, AWBI assistant secretary S Vinod Kumar told this writer: "Such practices deprive dogs of the biological benefits of long ears and tails. However, the directive banning such practises has been quashed by the HC. The AWBI has filed an appeal against the quashing verdict but it is pending before the Madras HC's Division Bench. There is no stay as such.''

Sood voices a deeper concern: ''Some dogs undergo procedures under the guise of beautification/cosmetic improvement. But gamblers' motive is to prepare them for illegal fights. Cropped ears help as a bite on long ears is extremely painful and swiftly incapacitates the dog's fighting prowess.''


Leaking sewerage and rains aggregating in a low-lying acreage on the border of SAS Nagar's Sector 48C makes most residents snort in disgust. However, it has metamorphosed into a marsh inhabited by happy, breeding birds, which don't seem to mind the stink. The marsh has its own chronicler and devotee, Pushkar Bali, who works as a pharmacist in Baddi and resides in Sector 48. Bali's passion for birds was kindled early on by the divine locale of his parental home on the Satluj banks in Nangal. The abundance of still water bodies, flowing currents and catchment area jungles weave an altogether rich and changing mosaic of avian twitterati in Nangal. Whenever Bali repairs to Nangal for holidays, he reserves 5-7 am for clicking birds. He may yet not be a technically perfect photographer but his passion is infectious and glows in his images.

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Grey-headed swamphen at the marsh. (PHOTO BY PUSHKAR BALI)

Among the birds at the Sector 48 marsh are swamphen. This bird, whose behaviour in wetlands can be likened to a conscientious housewife fussing over her chores in the backyard, has seen its common English name change from Purple moorhen to Purple swamphen and recently to Grey-headed swamphen. “New techniques and better understanding of taxonomy cause a rearrangement of bird classifications,” is how ornithologists pithily put it! Interestingly, swamphens deploy long-toed feet to lift food to their bills rather than pecking at it on ground. Rather like a lady at a sit-down dinner under chandeliers would, in a manner both elegant and studied, raise a fork to her lips!


Two ladies arrived at the Sukhna Lake's regulatory-end parking in a chauffeur-driven Audi Q7. After dismounting delicately from their nouveau-royal, tar-black, uber-cool 'carriage', elegant heels proceeded to tick-tock across the asphalt. An Elizabethian gait of unswerving objective and self-assurance informed their short journey, which was a pilgrimage to the pond teeming with beggar fish, impatient for evening alms. The ladies obliged, flicking starchy food from a container wrapped elegantly in silver foil.


Ladies feeding fish at Sukhna. (PHOTO BY VIKRAM JIT SINGH)

Such pious 'fish lovers' are often kin of judges, babus, politicians, businessmen, etc. and can’t be dissuaded from 'garbaging' water with atta, gram, rice, bread, rotis, etc. They also visit the adjoining UT fisheries farm to earn brownie points from the Almighty by stuffing to the gills their unwitting victims.

Fisheries expert Prof MS Johal condemns the practise. Since fish mostly feed on vegetation, their digestive systems are not suited for starchy foods as these attract bacteria and cause dysentery, besides fungal diseases. Food thrown for fish putrefies in water and leads to toxic effects on aquatic organisms that fish feed on. Farm superintendent Dr Kanwarjit Singh says the animal husbandry department will soon install boards warning against feeding fish.


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