Maharashtra's big cats on chicken diet

Maharashtra's big cats on chicken diet

Zoos and parks in Maharashtra have started the odd practice of feeding chicken meat to their captive big cats instead of beef owing to the new ban on slaughter of bull and bullock in the state.

Though the ban does not prevent slaughter of water buffaloes, beef traders have refused to sell it in protest.

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which used to procure 150 kg of beef daily from the Deonar abattoir to meet its requirements, unsuccessfully tried using goat meat as feed for lions and tigers.

“We are giving chicken to them, but they are not relishing it. They are not touching goat meat as they are used to beef. We are not even getting the meat of water buffaloes now. We hope the government addresses the issue,” said a Forest Department official.

The Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association has been protesting against the ban on slaughter of bulls by refusing to provide the meat of water buffaloes. “Our monthly beef requirement is nearly 4,500 to 5,000 kg. Now we have started procuring chicken in a big way, besides we are also procuring mutton. It appears to us that the animals are not satisfied,” the official said, adding that the situation would be similar in zoos across the state.

Cow slaughter was already banned in the state under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976. The killing of bulls, bullock and buffaloes for meat, however, was allowed with a “fit-for-slaughter” certificate.

In February, President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act of 1995, which in addition to the earlier legislation bans the slaughter of bull and bullock. The state government notified it earlier this month.

Implementing the 1995 act was a major mission for the BJP-Shiv Sena saffron alliance government. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his two senior Cabinet colleagues—Revenue and Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse and Finance and Planning Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar—had taken it upon themselves to ensure that the President granted his ascent.
With the implementation of the act, anyone found selling or in possession beef can be jailed for up to five years and fined Rs 10,000.

Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said on the ban: “The chief minister and finance minister say that they want to promote tourism, modernise zoos, parks. How they are going to do it? They always speak two different things – one contrary to the other.”

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