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Does PETA aim to destroy Indian Native Cattle Breeds?

A fine specimen
A fine specimen of Indian native breed bull

The recent ban to conduct Jallikattu by the Supreme Court of India has resulted in an exodus of hundreds of healthy, pure-breed native cattle being sent to the slaughter houses. It is painful to see these highly cherished, exotic, drought-resistant, low-maintenance, A2 milk-type breed of Indian native cattle fast disappearing from the face of the earth. Is it a well-orchestrated move by PETA to destroy native Indian cattle breeds?

PETA has succeeded in getting the Supreme Court of India to ban Jallikattu, a 4000 year old traditional bull embracing sport of India. Observers have been taken aback by the vigour with which PETA has been pushing this case. The multinational animal rights organisation, has been alleging that a lot of cruelty and abuse is meted out to the bulls participating in the once-a-year event while these allegations have been vehemently denied by the Jallikattu Organisers.

An unarmed sportsman embracing a bull during a Jallikattu event
An unarmed sportsman embracing a bull during a Jallikattu event

Jallikattu is a human-animal contact sport wherein an unarmed sportsman tries to embrace the bull by its hump – catching the bull by its horns, tail, legs or neck will invite instant disqualification – for a period of about 2 secs to a maximum of 10 seconds while the bull crosses the finish line about 50 feet away. Supreme Court had laid down strict rules and regulations for the game, after PETA, along with the Animal Welfare Board of India, approached the court seeking a ban alleging atrocities. According to the organisers of the sport, each bull is given an identity card and certified that it is free of any communicable disease. The bull is further tested for any sign of physical abuse, tested for drugs, liquour or performance enhancers, its horns are blunted and sent into the arena for its 10 seconds of fame, by none other than Government Veterinarians! The bull is again tested by the team of veterinarians for any signs of injury and abuse after the event too. “With both pre-event and post-event medical tests, where is the window for animal abuse?”, ask the organisers. Similar rules have been laid out for the sportsmen – should be physically fit, undergo medical test for drugs, liquor, performance enhancers etc.

The organisers say that not a single sportsman and not a single bull has died during the event after these new rules and regulations have been put in place, based on the Tamilnadu Jallikattu Act 2009.

Jallikattu events have seen a steep decline from over 3000 events recorded before 2006 – when the animal welfare groups went to court – to just 22 events in 2014. The number of Indian native bulls (and cows) have consequentially declined steeply from several thousands to less than a 1000 pure breed native bulls from 2006 to 2014, in direct co-relation to the drop in the number of events! The new rules and regulations have also been strangling this rural sport causing a steep drop in the number of events. A total ban on the sport would surely mean the extinction of these exotic cattle breeds!

 Why is Jallikattu necessary to preserve native cattle breeds?
With the advent of tractors, machines and automobiles, the bull is no more required for agriculture, transport etc. Jallikattu is the ONLY event that uses uncastrated bulls of native breeds. The imported or hybrid breeds cannot be used in this sport as they do hot have a hump, unlike the highly drought-resistant Indian native cattle breeds. These uncastrated native bulls are the local stud bulls uses for procreation and once-a-year, they participate in the sport for their few seconds of fame. Ownig a Jallikattu bull is considered a pride of the family. The Indian native cattle breeds produce A2 type milk which helps prevent incidence of diabetes, heart-disease and schizophernia.

Since negligible or no abuse has been reported over the past few years during the Jallikattu events, one tends to wonder why PETA is displaying a very high level of aggression and vehemence to ban Jallikattu. PETA has been advocating extinction of cattle for quite sometime now (refer: http://beefmagazine.com/blog/peta-protest-calls-extinction-cattle) . Rumour mills are rife with suspicion that PETA, with its deep pockets and wide connections – may be pursuing this case of banning Jallikattu with the sole aim of destroying Indian native cattle breeds!

Opinion by Balakumar Somu

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