Sauraha, May 17, 2014 – Animal welfare organisations together with a group of 30 tourists and pet owners call for an independent investigation into the poisoning of an estimated 40 dogs in Sauraha. One poisoned dog was found floating in the Rapti river. A group of tourists has conducted a memorial for the canine victims and started a campaign on social media. The dogs were killed just three months after Animal Nepal together with various partners introduced humane dog management in Sauraha.
On two occasions, Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, dogs living in Sauraha bazaar and surrounding areas were fed meat laced with poison. This happened in full view of tourists engaged in watching the sunset and sunrise. An estimated 40 dogs died, including at least three pet dogs. A number of dogs tried to find relief by entering the Rapti river; one body was found by welfare campaigners the next afternoon.
Pet owner Bijay Lama says he tried to stop the tractor carrying dead bodies but to no avail. His pet dog was poisoned last year; this year he could not prevent his new dog from being poisoned too.
Upset tourists contacted animal welfare agencies in Sauraha and Kathmandu and send letters to the media. Swiss tourist Andrin Meier says he has ‘no words’ to describe his feelings. “One moment I was sleeping with the dog of the hotel and the next the hotel owner called me crying saying the dog was dying.”
A group of thirty tourists conducted a memorial prayer for the expired dogs on the banks of the river last night. “We want to appeal with those behind the poisoning but do not know where to go,” says Meier. His full statement and that of US tourist Daniel Faiell can be read here.
No one has claimed full responsibility for the poisoning but reportedly Baghmara Bufferzone’s anti poaching committee was involved. The committee is said to be supported by National Park’s veterinary officers. National Park authorities say no permission was granted.
Three animal welfare organisations have requested the National Park and VDC authorities to conduct an independent investigation. Animal Nepal, Animal Rights Club (ARC) and Himalayan Animal Rescue Trust (HART) in a statement say they feel ‘deeply saddened and upset’ about the ‘random dog killing’. “Our joint efforts to create humane solutions to dog overpopulation and problems in Sauraha have been undone in just one night. Apart from being cruel and unrespectful, the poisoning is unscientific as it does not solve any problem in the long run, and has dangerous side effects, possibly also for endangered wildlife.”
The dog killing took place three months humane dog management was officially introduced in Sauraha. Bagmara Bufferzone Committee, with the support of Hotel Association Nepal, supported Animal Nepal, ARC and HART to catch, sterilize, vaccinate and treat over 100 dogs in Sauraha and surrounding areas. The programme aimed to prevent rabies, dog bites and excessive barking as well as address the issue of deer killing by rogue dogs in the bufferzone areas. The partners jointly invested NRs 1,5 lakh and vowed to conduct camps on an annual basis in three bufferzone areas.
The use of Strychnine poison is illegal in Nepal and it is not a long-term solution in controlling dog population and rabies menace. The poison is reported to have caused animal and human deaths when bodies are not properly disposed or when rain washes it into water sources.
The World Health Organisation and experts at Nepal’s Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) have long argued that the poisoning of animals is not a scientific and effective. Independent research shows that the number of dogs does not reduce after poisoning. Due to laws of nature, within as little time as six months the population recovers and often even increases. Poisoning also does nothing to decrease aggression among dogs and against humans or other animal species.
Humane, effective solutions have been introduced many decades ago. The only scientific solution to overpopulation is family planning.
Animal Nepal has opened a petition to put further pressure on those involved.