Court victory upstaged host Jane Goodall Institute Nepal
KATHMANDU, Nepal––Nepal Animal Welfare & Research Center founder Gita Prasad “Uttam” Dahal, hospitalized in Delhi, India, for internal bleeding that has plagued him since a childhood spleen removal, on November 7, 2017 received an e-mail from Sangita Sapkota, program coordinator for the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal, which ought to have embarrassed all 16 co-sponsors of the upcoming 10th Asia for Animals conference, all 12 other members of the Asia for Animals coalition, and primate researcher Jane Goodall herself, even if ANIMALS 24-7 had not taken the initiative of making the e-mail public, against Dahal’s diplomatic judgement.
The Jane Goodall Institute Nepal is the host organization for the 2017 Asia for Animals conference, to be held December 3-5 at the Yak & Yeti Hotel, a former royal palace, in Kathmandu, Nepal.
ANIMALS 24-7 suggested standing ovation
Noting that Dahal had quietly done more to end the notorious Gadhi Mai sacrifices conducted every five years in western Nepal than all the other Animals for Asia delegates combined, by winning the first Supreme Court of Nepal judgment against the sacrifices on November 24, 2014, ANIMALS 24-7 on November 4, 2017 suggested that Dahal should be honored by the AfA conference––if he is well enough to attend––with a standing ovation.
ANIMALS 24-7 published the first page of the Supreme Court of Nepal judgment as an illustration. Other Supreme Court of Nepal verdicts against the Gadhi Mai sacrifices followed, but Dahal won the first precedent for stopping the sacrifices only four days after the second case was filed.
Sought standing room only
Dahal, meanwhile, had never asked the Asia for Animals conference for any recognition. All Dahal wanted was standing room somewhere at the conference venue to present a poster about the work of the Nepal Animal Welfare & Research Center, a small grassroots organization he founded in 2013 after years of volunteering with other local animal charities.
Supported mainly by other Nepalis, with little outside help, the Nepal Animal Welfare & Research Center works both in rural areas and in the Kathmandu valley, chiefly to promote spay/neuter and vaccination of street dogs.
The very existence and success of the almost penniless Nepal Animal Welfare & Research Center against the Gadhi Mai sacrifices appears to threaten the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal, Humane Society International (the global arm of the Humane Society of the United States), and many other Animals for Asia conference co-sponsors and committee members.
Goodall Institute amplified exaggerated claims
Those organizations in 2014 conducted high-profile media campaigns against the Gadhi Mai sacrifices based on grossly exaggerated information supplied mainly by Jane Goodall Institute Nepal executive director Manoj Gautam. Gautam in particular claimed that more than a thousand times more animals were killed during the sacrifices than extensive photographic documentation could support.
(See Exposing the truth of the Gadhi Mai sacrificial slaughter and The toll from Gadhi Mai 2014: 750 buffalo sacrificed, 1,000 devotees in attendance.)
Investigative work by Beauty Without Cruelty-India indicates that inflated claims about the numbers of animals sacrificed probably started with priests selling each animal multiple times to absentee sponsors. Activists then swallowed the inflated claims whole, and exaggerated them further to try to drum up global support for protest.
While the collective strategy pursued by many of the Asia for Animals in-crowd appeared to be oriented more toward raising funds from shocked donors than toward actually ending the Gadhi Mai killing, Dahal at his own initiative collected verifiable data and submitted to the Supreme Court of Nepal the evidence needed to win the case.
“Could not find name on list”
Dahal will not get a poster opportunity at the Asia for Animals conference, Sangita Sapkota informed him in her November 7, 2017 e-mail.
“Having gone through the Approved Exhibition Stall Name list of AFA 2017,” Sapkota wrote, “we could not find the Nepal Animal Welfare & Research Center’s name on the list and hence we would like to inform you that NAWRC will not be able to get exhibition space during this AFA conference 2017.”
Of course Sapkota had an excuse, other than that Gautam, the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal, Humane Society International, et al just do not wish to host a reminder that a Nepalese man of illiterate parents and no major international connections accomplished something that they could not and did not.
“Tallying with the received interested list and the available spaces,” Sapkota wrote, “we are very sorry that we could not provide exhibition stalls to all the interested organizations. Among numerous submissions very few organizations have been selected by AFA management committee.”
“Changing Human Behavior”
Of note is that the 2017 Asia for Animals conference, the 10th in a series started in 2001, is dedicated to the theme of “Changing Human Behavior.”
On the conference agenda are presentations focusing on “The Process of Change,” “The Psychology of Change,” “Creating an Environment for Change,” and “Ownership of Change.”
In that context, people who care about animals could imagine that a person who has achieved a key step in the process of changing a particularly atrocious tradition, in a very conservative cultural environment, might have something useful to say about it to other delegates.
But apparently claiming “ownership of change” trumps actual accomplishment in the internal politics governing Asia for Animals 2017.
Who is responsible?
The 2017 Asia for Animals co-sponsors include, in alphabetical order, Act Asia for Animals, the Animals Asia Foundation, the Animal People Forum, Animals Australia, the Blue Cross of India, the Brooke Hospital for Animals, the Change for Animals Foundation, Dogs Trust, the Donkey Sanctuary, Help Animals India, Humane Society International, International Animal Rescue, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Maria Norbury Foundation, University of Edinburgh, Vier Pfoten, and Working for Animals.
ANIMALS 24-7 suspects that most of them, having not been involved in the Gadhi Mai campaign, have no idea of Uttam Dahal’s contribution, or of his exclusion. Among those that did know of his work, the Blue Cross of India had no part in excluding Dahal. The rest ought to be called to account for the exclusion, but––having contributed substantial sums to be co-sponsors––likely will not even be asked any questions.
Exaggerated claims about rabies, too
(The University of Edinburgh, incidentally, as host of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, also ought to be called to account for continuing to allege that there are at least 120 times more rabies deaths in India than found by 14 years of annual body counts done by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence. Much of the input data for the extrapolated numbers favored by GARC appears to originate with a national survey of government hospitals published in 1911 by David Semple and William F. Harvey, before they introduced post-rabies exposure vaccination to India. The same 1911 survey furnished the baseline data still used for projections of rabies deaths in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, all of which were also then under British administration as part of colonial British India. See Rabies plummets in India while “experts” ignore the data.)
Members of the Asia for Animals Coalition include ACRES, Animal Guardians, Born Free, Earth Island Institute, Elephant Aid International, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, The Philippine Animal Welfare Society, the Royal SPCA of the United Kingdom, the Hong Kong SPCA, the Sarawak SPCA, and World Animal Protection.