Even when Nepal was a Hindu Rashtra it was customary in the Northern areas of the country to eat the flesh of Chamris or even cattle which had met an untimely end by going over the edge of a cliff. A questionable practice was also to give the yak plenty of salt but no water so that it soon died unexpectedly and could be eaten.
In former times, because of limited supply the calves were in some demand. At the time of the year end sharadda, cattle herder would bring a calf that would be barely singed with a heated Shiva’s trident on one of it flanks. After due remuneration it would be taken away by its carer to repeat this ritual on another day at another place. All that has now changed in this modern times and age. Some of these lucky grown up calves’ now sturdy bulls have been collected from the streets of Kathmandu and are being cared for at a Kanji centre near the temple of Lord Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu. Some of the fortunate tired cows have been led to gaushallas in the capital and other major towns of Nepal.
The situation has now changed and there is a population explosion in animal and certain fowl for their products and or flesh. Currently the fate of such cows and tender aged calves has been to roam the urban centres of Nepal, cause traffic accidents and even to lead to human deaths.
Recently a former minister of Nepal started the process of passing guidelines for treating animals much more kindly and humanely. Will the legally proscribed eight hours day of toil by animals be implemented? All very good and rational in this day and age but what caught my eye is that 'khasi parne' or castration will soon be forbidden. What will ones momos taste like with meat of bokos and non-castrated rangos? This may be a crucial query. Will our hill farming be mechanised as there will no longer be docile gorus but rather unruly sandes that will have to be yoked and mobilised for the tilling of hillside slopes as mechanisation cannot be implemented on such sites! Now that many of our young men folk are in the Gulf will the Nepali women tilling the fields, be able cope with all this?
This has brought to my mind George Orwell's classical work 'Animal Farm'. What if the animals in our farms form Unions? Will the cows withhold the supply of milk from their udders? Will the production of butter and cheese come to a standstill?
Perhaps because of the beef ban in India, substantial number of our tired cows, overworked gorus and unwanted calves are still waiting for right conditions to cross the border at UP, Bihar and Bengal. Some even to Bangladesh. In some places, because of the porous open and lax border situation the cattle are coming from India to Nepal and that too at Nepalgunj. As a result of the factors of now slowed exit from various points on our southern border as an easier means to getting rid of animals past their productive years. A result is that there are now a greater number of stray cattle along the highways of Nepal. Are they hazards to traffic on this road? Will they cause accidents? Who has to see to all this? In the midst of all this crazy happenings one wonders what is in store for us citizens of this land.
What has brought all this is the recent episode when 370 cows, oxen and calves were to be ferried to Surkhet from the Kanji House at Nepalgunj. They were supposed to be taken to the Sristhan of Dailekh district. Eight trucks were hired, the cattle herded in at approximately 46 per truck and taken northwards. It seems that eighteen cows and six oxen which died plus also a dozen or so injured were dumped at Katkuwa and Byureni Khola. Another 144 cattle were found wandering in the forested area near Birendranagar. Some are still to be accounted for. The government has formed a special investigating panel to look into all this.
After rather filling Saturday mid-day meal I fell into slumber and had a dream that instilled into my brain certain ideas. In these days of artificial insemination, the old sturdy bull needs no longer to be over worked. Breeds have been doctored and improved by the results experiments in the laboratory. There is even talk that the over production of animals for human consumption, which in itself is a costly affair is causing global warming. Western countries are trying out artificially created meat for ham or beef burgers that taste like the real thing. Our bulls were used for ploughing just like horses in Europe but with mechanisation all that has already changed in developed countries. It is certain that it will take place too in Nepal in the near future.
With the dog menace in major cities the practice of vasectomy is practiced in dogs and ‘basket’ operation is done in female dogs or bitches as they are known. In Nepal the termination of pregnancies is allowed for certain reasons but the known fact is that female infanticide is in practice in Nepal and India but in other countries too. Once diagnosed it is a matter of time till the action is taken.
I woke up with the thought that if there was the possibility of doing ultrasound on cows and if the finding was of a male calf then, when could it be aborted without hampering the production of milk for human consumption? Yes, it is a selfish world and we are all selfish people.
Somehow consciousness about stray and old cows has been created for the Livestock Section at Tanahun of Gandaki Pradesh has started caring for them.