June 2013: History in the Making - rescue of the Temple calves
Last month we have faced one of our biggest challenges yet and have been busy 24/7 with emergency works to save the "Temple" calves and change this age old practice of calf abandonment which leads to their doom.
First let us reassure you that all of our other lifesaving projects are ongoing for the dogs/cats/monkeys/horses/buffaloes/birds/wildlife and sea turtles. Please see our year-end and activity report just released! Thank you one and all!
On their way to VSPCA and life not death!
The Temples calves
Visakha SPCA has been hard at work these last 15 years to expose and stop this practice. For more background and history see our updated page. The ongoing saga and many more photos are on the VSPCA Facebook page.
VSPCA has taken in 238 sickly calves who are being treated at our Cow Sanctuary, eighty of whom are blind; these are added to our existing 800 rescued cows and buffaloes. We have adopted out 120 calves to local farmers, and continue to provide essential medical care and feed to the other 935 calves who the Temple recently shifted to a cow sanctuary
Update: VSPCA's meeting with the Temple authorities about the calves has been a success! We have been feverishly petitioning the Temple authorities to support us to help protect the temple cows:
- educational program for the farmers not to abandon their calves
- security for the cow sanctuary
- taking over the running of the cow sanctuary to make sure the cows receive proper care.
Negotiations are ongoing to work out the best solution for the abandoned calves.
Here are some of the over 200 we have taken in, in sweet safe refuge at our sanctuary.
The ongoing saga of the victory for the temples calves of Simachalam it is truly an historic moment! The temples across Andhra Pradesh are no longer allowed to accept devotees' "donations" of unwanted male calves. The calves of who are then being sold through the "back door" to illegal butchers. What hypocrisy for all parties.
Even as the calves were finally banned as "Temple donations of calves," word travelled slowly and even recently over 1,000 babies were brought from devotees as far away as Orissa (north of Visakhapatnam).
Hasty make shift "goshalas" (cow sanctuaries) were created by Temple authorities. However, many calves died as no adequate food or water provisions were made until VSPCA stepped in to provide this round the clock. Poor cow children torn away from their moms, at least they were no longer dragged up the temple steps to be "offered" and then dragged back down only to be slaughtered! At the risk to our lives we protected the babies from being stolen by goons who would sell who would steal them and sell to the butchers and we guarded them night and day.
With both hands we performed emergency medical care 24/7
Solutions: some calves are being "adopted," and will spend their lives with the working poor, i.e., become bullocks to plough the field as is the age old practice for the Indian agricultural society. Although this is not ideal, it is better than being sent to slaughter.
Merritt Clifton writes in the June edition of Animal People News:
The Visakha SPCA, of Visakhapatnam, received even more cattle this spring. The Simachalam temple in Visakhapatnam has reportedly received "donations" of as many as 15,000 unwanted male calves per year, who have been quietly sold to butchers and exporters. The temple acknowledges receiving about 500 calves per year.
The Visakha SPCA, whose first shelter was razed by a mob of butchers in April 2000, has for more than 15 years pressured the temple to stop accepting calf donations. The present temple management "agrees that the devotees bring in sick, weak, and deformed calves, and that this is hypocrisy rather than any exercise of religion. They just want to get rid of these calves," e-mailed Visakha SPCA founder Pradeep Kumar Nath."
A further tragedy is that many of these calves are the unwanted brown Jersey cows rather than the more desired native Indian cows. Of course this matters not to VSPCA, they will help all. But the general Indian farmer and temple are far less interested in the Jersey calves.
So much progress has been made. The work continues nonstop and with your donations and support we can do even more.
We have not shown you the horrendous photos of the poor conditions at the temple sanctuary but here is one example of the ones we worked to save.
This poor soul came from unfortunate and life threatening conditions shown below, which included a record breaking heat wave which topped 47ºC (116ºF).
Before / After Treatment at VSPCA
One of the most heartbreaking consequences of the overcrowded Temple cow sanctuary was stampede- this calf suffered horrific injuries at the temple goshalas (cow sanctuary), and has now been treated by VSPCA. Here's what he looks like now. Many more like him are being treated in our sanctuary.
For further information on the heart breaking reality of cows in today's India please see the artile in the New York Times: "For New Breed of Rustlers, Nothing Is Sacred".
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With gratitude to all who have helped us, you have helped us save so many lives!
Pradeep Nath, Founder/President