Launching of Second Phase RGOB-HSI Joint Project in Bhutan
2 August 2012, Thimphu: The second phase National Dog Population Management and Rabies Control Project, a joint project between Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) and Human Society International (HSI), was launched today. The Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture & Forests (MoAF) also officially declared Bhutan as Battery Cage Free Poultry Farming during the launching of the project. The launching was presided over by HonвЂ™ble Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamtsho, Minister of MoAF. The Project between MoAF and HSI has been further extended to three years.
MoAF had tried several methods to reduce the dog population in the country. A vigorous elimination programs was carried out in the past years but failed to bring down numbers such as relocating dogs followed by impounding, with shelters constructed across the country. Despite all these efforts, conflicts between street dogs and people were worsening.
The first phase of the National Dog Population Management and Rabies Control Project was started by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MoAF and HSI in September 2009. The first phase of the project was able to cover 70 percent of the total estimated dog population of 50,000. Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release (CNVR) is found to be the most humane way of curbing the dog population in the country.
HonвЂ™ble Lyonpo said that with the means and resources, be it individual, groups, shelters, councils or governments, it was felt that the neutering project was a more humane way of controlling the stray population. вЂњWe, as a small organisation are already doing our part in promoting CNVR and we know that for every dog that we help to neuter, hundreds of unwanted births will have been prevented. He also said that the countless of suffering can be reduced following the middle path of Buddhahood instead of using chemical and mechanical methods.вЂќ He also added all should do their part in promoting, encouraging and implementing this more humane method of controlling the stray population where killing is not the answer to solving any problem. Lyonpo acknowledged the fact that lack of public support and proper facilities are some of the constraints of the dog control and management program. Though it is low profile project, it is found to be the most cost effective and socially responsible project keeping in line with GNH philosophy.
During the launching of the project, the Department of Livestock, MoAF declared Bhutan as battery cage free poultry framing and it is expected to improve animal welfare which is a global concern.
Literally, battery cages mean a wire cages for egg-laying hens, usually a cage with smaller area than a standard size. A single bird has a wingspan of 32 inches, and lives her entire life never being able to spread her wings. Cages are stacked in rows on top of each other, so that hundreds of thousands of birds can be housed in a single building. The wire floors are sloped so that the eggs roll out of the cages. The birds are denied their natural behaviors such as nesting and dust bathing. Because feeding and watering is sometimes automated, human oversight and contact are minimal. Birds fall out of cages, get stuck between cages, or get their heads or limbs stuck between the bars of their cages, and die because they cannot access food and water.
Dr. Tashi Dorji, Chief Livestock Officer, said battery caging is against the animal welfare and is used solely for commercial farming. He said, it is important to maintain the birdвЂ™s natural habitat and it is not right to treat birds like they are some kind of egg producing machine, cramping in a small space and when birds have no space to move freely they are more prone to diseases and metabolic dysfunction.
The occasion was attended by Secretaries from MoAF and Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Mayor, Thimphu Thromde, Mr. R.K. Kharb, Major General (Retired), Chairman, Animal welfare board of India, Mr. Rahul Seghal, Director, HSI, Dr. Rajesh Kumar Pandey, RGoB-HSI project coordinator and senior officials from MoAF and Non-Governmental Organisations. Participants from HSI India, USA and Britain were also present. HonвЂ™ble Lyonpo also awarded certificates to 17 new Veterinarians from Bhutan who has been trained in CNVR technique.
Reported by: Karma Tenzin, ICS
Photograph: Choidup, ICS