TB-infected temple bull to be put down

By Prasun Sonwalkar, IANS 

London : Months of protests in Britain have failed to save the tuberculosis-infected bull Shambo in the Skanda Vale Temple in Wales as the Welsh Assembly Tuesday decided to slaughter the animal.

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Rural Affairs Minister Jane Davidson said she would proceed with an order to put the six-year-old Friesian bull down. It had tested positive for bovine TB during a routine screening on April 27.

The campaign to save Shambo was launched by Hindu priests of the temple in Llanpumsaint, Carmarthen, and several Hindu organisations in Britain, on the ground that killing it was against the Hindu religion and doing so would desecrate the temple.

The bull was confined to a safe place and a camera linked to cyberspace was arranged so that its movements could be monitored – the web-linked camera was called 'MooTube'.

After Davidson confirmed the Welsh Assembly decision to destroy the Shambo in line with veterinary regulations, representatives of Hindu groups have again pledged to stop any attempt to kill Shambo.

Responding to the Welsh Assembly's decision, Swami Suryananda of the Skanda Vale Temple said: "The Welsh Assembly has chosen to dismiss our constructive proposals to preserve the life of Shambo. They have refused to listen to the concerns of the Hindu community, to conduct further tests on Shambo or even consider other treatment options should the disease ever develop in Shambo.

"Some of the information released by the Welsh Assembly government suggests that Shambo's current condition poses a grave risk to public health and that he is suffering with disease. This is not true. There is no evidence that he is infectious and shedding TB bacteria and our vet has confirmed he is in excellent health.

"We have taken all the required precautions to safeguard both animal and public health. Shambo continues to be in excellent health and shows no sign of the disease. The skin test detects exposure to the infection but officials claim that proof (that) an animal is actually suffering from TB is something that can only be shown by post-mortem examination or by microbiological analysis after death."

Speaking on behalf of the community, Sanjay Mistry told the BBC: "It would mean Shambo is slaughtered next Monday. Hopefully we can still get them to change their mind. What is disappointing is that they have refused to allow anyone else to examine Shambo.

"There are still tests he can undergo that would indicate whether he actually has TB, that is not conclusive. At the moment he is in perfect health and shows no sign of illness. We've said from the outset that we are willing to work with the Welsh Assembly and Defra to find a practical solution.

"I would be very disappointed if they did not take on board our suggestions, such as treatment. The first step now for us is to continue with the legal approach and try to get an injunction to overturn this decision. If that fails we will be left with no other option but to continue with peaceful protest."

Campaign organisers claim the support of several Hindu organisations in Britain to save Shambho, including the Hindu Forum of Britain, the National Council of Hindu Temples, the Hindu Council of Birmingham, Hindu Council of Brent, Hindu Council of Harrow, Hindu Council of the North, Leicester Festival Hindu Council, Hindu Council UK, World Hindu Federation and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK.