Bullocks and Ponies Face Injuries, Exhaustion and Extreme Thirst at India’s Chinchali Fair
Every year, ahead of India’s Chinchali Fair, exhausted animals are forced to carry backbreaking loads for hundreds of miles along rutted roads, often to the point of collapse.
The Chinchali Fair, an annual Indian goddess festival, brings thousands of devotees from miles around to a small village in South India. But for the bullocks, horses and ponies who strain to carry them there, this is far from a festive occasion.
These often already worn-out animals are frequently made to run hundreds of kilometres for up to two days straight in order to make it to the fair on time. The carts typically carry far too large a load, and some animals collapse from sheer exhaustion or trip and fall under the cart yokes, becoming injured. Others suffer from hunger and severe thirst.
Their misery will continue over the days spent at the fair site, as animals in need of food, water, and proper veterinary care go without. However, members of Animal Rahat, an organisation of veterinarians and relief workers supported by PETA, will be on hand doing everything they can to give these animals some much-needed respite.
The following are some of the ways they will be stepping in to help:
- Arranging villagers’ bus transportation to the fair to prevent bullocks, horses and ponies from being forced to make the gruelling trip (Last year, Animal Rahat managed to provide enough buses to spare more than 1,250 animals from having to make the journey, and the group hopes to surpass that figure this year.)
- Hiring street performers to publicise Animal Rahat’s bus service to illiterate people in numerous villages before the fair and explain how travelling by bus will allow their animals to rest and prevent injury and suffering
- Setting up rest camps equipped with food and clean drinking water for animals and encouraging travellers to give their animals rest
- Posting billboards along the fair routes to show which practices involving animals are punishable offenses under the law
- Rallying the local police to enforce anti-cruelty laws
- Providing animals with emergency medical care for wounds, dehydration, injuries or other issues
At last year’s fair, Animal Rahat team members confiscated piles of yoke spikes – illegal metal devices used to stab bullocks on their necks and faces if they deviate from walking or looking straight ahead – and distributed hundreds of morkees (face halters) to replace nose ropes, which cause infections and pain. They also repaired carts whose defects were harming the animals who pulled them and detained carts that illegally paired ponies and bullocks, which put the whole weight of the cart on just one animal.
This bullock was one of the many who came into one of Animal Rahat’s camps during a previous fair with severe lameness. The owner knew that he should hire a truck to transport the animal home, but he didn’t have enough money. So Animal Rahat immediately treated the bullock – giving him intravenous fluids and painkillers and wrapping the injury to protect it – and hired a truck to take him home.
With your support, Animal Rahat will provide more animals like him with medical treatment, food and water or a few hours of rest from their backbreaking labour at this year’s fair.