Working to save stray cattle in Goa

Updated on Oct 30, 2007 10:33 AM IST

A global network of animal rights campaigners has taken on the unusual job of rescuing injured cows.

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IANS | By, Panaji

They campaign to free bears in Agra and work to combat the illegal trade in wildlife in Indonesia. And in Goa an international network of animal rights campaigners has taken on the unusual job of rescuing injured cows.

The International Animal Rescue (IAR), headquartered in Britain, was launched in Goa by young British women volunteers six years ago. It strives to rescue and treat stray animals attacked by human beings.

In October 2006, the IAR said it rescued a bull from the beach-fishing former village of Candolim in north Goa, hurt after residents had apparently thrown boiling oil on its back to get it off their property.

Recently, more such cases came up in the town of Bicholim, also in north Goa.

"Workers at an industrial estate injured several cows and bulls by throwing acid on them, presumably because the animals were in the wrong place, at the wrong time," the IAR said in a statement in Panaji.

On getting reports of the cows in distress in Bicholim, IAR drivers and the vet of the volunteer-driven and funded organisation found that the animals could not be treated on site.

Despite having an owner - the IAR shelter in Goa usually admits only stray animals - the cow was admitted for treatment at the shelter in Assagao, another north Goa village where the IAR conducts most of its activities.

If treatment is not given urgently the wounds, caused by the acid burning away the skin, become infested with maggots and then it becomes an extremely difficult task to get the wounds to heal, the group said.

Vets attended to one of the cows immediately, and the animal is now on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, the other cow was not as lucky.

Though it was attacked with acid at the same time, the animal had sustained even more severe wounds and had been wandering around for two days without treatment. Its entire back-and-hip area was an open wound and flies and maggots were already eating away at the raw flesh. Vets decided to mercifully put the cow to sleep.

According to the IAR, it is "not uncommon" for people to pour boiling water, oil or acid to scare away cattle. But, at the same time, because Hindus consider them sacred, the cows walk around freely on the roads and in the fields, and it becomes difficult to control them.

While local authorities in Goa have set up so-called cattle pounds in an attempt to "store" unclaimed cattle out of the way of residents, there are not enough resources to catch and transport cattle to these pounds.

The IAR has vet clinics in Goa and Tamil Nadu, which sterilise cats and dogs and are registered with the government of India.

Recently, the IAR has also been involved in the campaign to remove dancing bears from the streets. The group said: "We are the sole UK funder of bear sanctuaries in Agra in the north and Bannerghatta (Karnataka) in the south of India."

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