Thursday, 29 November 2012
21st International Conference on Bear Research and Management, India
The 21st International Conference on Bear Research and Management (IBA 2012), was held for the first time in India this week, which was jointly hosted by the ministry of environment and forests, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the Central Zoo Authority, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
Delegates heard that recent research on animal welfare showed that more than 85% Indians believe that animals have as many rights as people. According to surveys conducted by the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), 87% people in India think that animals have as many rights as people and 83% Indians believe protecting animals from the effect of natural disasters is important. Besides, 73% believe the treatment of animals is a serious challenge and that they should be protected from the effect of natural disasters.
"Animals matter to the planet. Protecting them is vital to any successful response to the biggest issues of our time, from disasters and climate change, to stable food supplies and good health. The welfare of animals affects us all, and protecting them cannot wait," Mike Baker, CEO of WSPA, said while launching its campaign for animal welfare in India Monday. Underlining the reason for WSPA launching its campaign in India, he said: "India is a global power today and a unique country with a passion for animals that is embedded in its culture. It can give a perspective to the link between human and animal welfare." In his presentation, Baker gave three different examples - one from the island of Bali in Indonesia and two from India. In all three cases, the WSPA had helped protect animals from being culled at the same time rehabilitating humans dependent on them.
Other speakers who spoke on the occasion included R.M. Kharb, chairman of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), Chinny Krishna, vice president of the AWBI and Emily Reeves, director of programmes, WSPA (Asia Pacific). "This campaign is necessary as human-animal conflicts are increasing and animals usually lose in these. Also, enforcement of animal protection laws in India is a big grey area," said Kharb.
Krishna echoed Kharb. "India has the finest animal protection laws in the world. But their implementation is woefully poor." "Indians believe that every life is sacred. And yet, what we do to animals should shame us," he added.
Reeves said: "Collaboration is essential for success. Wide-scale change that is sustainable can only be brought about by collaboration."
Sadly due to unforeseen circumstances, Heather Bacon could not fly out to India to give her presentation, which was very frustrating. However, JMICAWE were delighted that the launch of WSPA's campaign came on the same day when union minister of Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan launched the National Bear Action Plan in the capital.