Sacred vagrants: How homeless cows have become a problem in India
Categories: AnimalsBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/sacred-vagrants-how-homeless-cows-have-become-a-problem-in-india
As in many other cities around the world, there are many stray dogs in Indian urban communities that live near people. But India's biggest problem is not dogs, but cows. Every month, they cause thousands of road accidents, block traffic and spread diseases. The government has long been aware of the problems arising from the fact that cows move freely on busy city roads, but no one seems to know what to do about it.
Stray cows have been a part of Indian urban life for many years, but in recent years, with the development of infrastructure and the increase in the number of cars, they are causing more and more problems. Urban cows are not afraid of traffic, so you can often see them calmly pacing in the middle of the road. Violence towards them is unacceptable, since cows are considered sacred, harming them angers Hindus, so people should keep their anger under control, no matter how bad things are.
The fact that there are stray cattle in India is directly related to its sacred status in a predominantly Hindu country. Slaughter is prohibited in most parts of the state, so when cows and bulls cease to carry any benefit or become too much of a financial burden, the owners simply put them out on the street. This has been happening for so long that today the number of stray cows in India is estimated in the millions and is growing rapidly.
Cows can be seen staggering along busy roads in big cities like New Delhi. They cause accidents and block traffic, but they are most dangerous at night. It is difficult for drivers of vehicles that move at high speed to notice these animals in time, and accidents sometimes lead to a fatal outcome. Punjab authorities have announced that street cows involved in road accidents have killed 300 people in the past 30 months. And this is only in one state.
But traffic accidents and traffic jams are just two problems caused by cows. Although most of them look healthy, they are actually sick or carry some dangerous food and water-borne pathogens. Basically, these cows feed on garbage, and data shows that their milk, as well as the waste they produce, is full of antibiotics, hormones and heavy metals, some of which can cause illness in humans, and others can even lead to death.
Another problem is illegal dairy plants in major cities of India. They sell the infected milk of stray cows cheaply to the poor population. They not only deliberately put cows out on the street to save money on feed, but also sometimes use political connections to get the animals released from cow shelters.
Currently, trapping is the only way that Indian cities use to cope with stray cows. Sometimes people who do this are called urban cowboys. Their only means are the lasso and brute force: they catch cows, push them into trucks and transport them to one of the overcrowded shelters. They are allowed to use stun weapons only when they are accompanied by a veterinarian, but this happens infrequently.
For the "cowboys", the threat is not only cows that kick and run amok, but also people. Frustrated drivers often resort to violence, if the hunters block traffic for too long trying to catch cows, the owners of illegal dairy industries do even worse, and even ordinary passers-by throw stones at them, forcing them to leave the sacred animals alone.
Hunters are trying their best to rid the streets of cities of stray cows, but soon they will have no places where they can send animals. Rajendra Singh Shekhawat, who runs the largest shelter in New Delhi, says that his shelter is almost full, and everyone else is facing the same problem. And there are more and more cows: cars and tractors take their "jobs".
The authorities constantly announce campaigns to rid cities of vagrants, but it is estimated that 5 million animals still roam the streets.