CHENNAI:We have had heard of cruelties against animals but these acts escalate to another level on festivals when they pay the price with their lives for our merriment. There is the ear-splitting sounds during Diwali, use of chemical colours during Holi or the deadly “Chinese manjas” used during kite festivals.
Colours damage coat and intestinal tract
Let’s start with the recently concluded Holi. Most of the colours we use are actually a combination of various chemicals, like zinc, lead and mercury sulphate.Dry colour is as bad as wet. The lead content in these colours could accumulate as poison inside the dogs if they lick it off their coat. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, sneezing, coughing, discharge from nostrils, excessive thirst, constant itching or licking, rashes on skin and excessive hair fall in a short time, watery or red eyes and signs of blindness are few symptoms. These colours damage their gastrointestinal tract.Even when treated, the lack of nutrition in strays affect their immunity and make them more prone to severe problems later on.
Loud festivals are bad for ear drums
Along with hazardous colours during Holi, cracker sounds during Diwali, dhol/drums beats during festivals are all very problematic for animals. Have you ever wondered where most of the stray dogs, vanish on Diwali night?
Scared, restless and stressed because of constant loud noises, dogs try to flee far from crackers. A scientific explanation to this is that dogs are more sensitive to sounds, with a a different acoustic perception of the world. Sounds that seem loud to humans often emit high frequency tones that can scare dogs. In fact, a large number of them meet with accidents, unable to perceive the source of the sound.
Sights of people carrying out heinous acts like tying crackers to the tails of dogs and cows, or inserting a cracker in their mouth or anus are not uncommon at all, unfortunately. And why so, the answer is always …it’s just a dog so what?
It is not only the strays who suffer during the festivals. Have you noticed the behavior of your pets during this time? If you see those showing signs like shaking, trembling, excessive barking and trying to hide or getting out of the house, you should understand that they are traumatised. In fact, a lot pets also get disoriented, run out, and forget their way home. It is due to this the maximum number of dogs end up missing during festival times especially Diwali.
For birds, Diwali is their worst nightmare. There are incidents of people shooting rockets into trees, eventually hurting or killing the birds. A silent killer for the bird is also the lingering smoke in the air that causes suffocation in birds. Dead birds are often spotted on the streets after Diwali.
Added to this nightmare, there is also a brutal ritual where owls are sacrificed on Diwali to please Goddess Laxmi.
Killer strings in the air
Kites fill the skies in many parts of India during Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan, celebrating the onset of spring, which also sees the increase in avian fatality. The injuries are caused by ‘manja’, especially the Chinese manja, more commonly used nowadays unlike the cotton ones, the string used to fly kites. Gummed and coated with powdered glass, the strings are made dangerously sharp to slash the thread of an opponent’s kite mid-air during kite fights.
Birds fly into these strings or are entangled in them, causing deep cuts to their wings, nerve injuries, fractures, dislocations and, in many cases, death. Urban birds such as pariah kites, pigeons, crows and owls are the major victims during this time. In western India, the festival also coincides with the winter visit of a large number of migratory birds, thus raising the death toll.
Quick action against violators
Awareness and strict and swift action against the abusers are the only way out. Awareness needs to be created that applying colours or bursting crackers are not good for animals, not even for fun. And this has to start at the micro level with your building society, with your child’s school and within your immediate community.
We can take inspiration from villages of Vettangudi and Kollukudi Patti in Tamil Nadu, who have given up crackers, to provide an amiable environment to the migratory birds at Vettangudi Bird Sanctuary.