We, humans, are just too consumed with ourselves. It is always our needs, our desires and what benefits us; that matters. And until and unless things directly affect us, even a prevailing problem does not become ‘our problem’. One of such issues is the stray cows, bull and calves in the streets of Kathmandu.
Like earthly seasons, there also comes a time when the numbers of animals on the streets significantly increases. Once deemed useless by the dairy farm or the owners, they leave calves and bulls out on the streets. Legally and religiously, these animals cannot be harmed, hence, they roam the streets searching for food, surviving on their own. And as a result, we see traffic obstruction and even accidents with casualties on both sides. But like always, we know it’s a problem but not many are a willing step forward to solve the issue.
On Saturday though, some groups of concerned students stepped out on the streets, willing to change the scenario. Around Kalimati-Balkhu stretch—sacrificing their long-weekend sleep—many students swarmed around the calves and bulls on the roadsides, and even in the middle of the road. Some put reflective collars around necks of these animals, while others distracted and fed them.
What they were doing surely turned some heads around. While some other curious pedestrians and people in vehicles stopped and asked what they were doing. They replied positively that the reflective collars were to help minimize road accidents.
The students were collaring animals as a part of ‘The Ethical Self and Animal Safety Awareness’ campaign. It aims to work in favor of these stranded animals and relocate them to a safer environment, in the long run. The ongoing campaign was an initiative of one of the facilitators for Corporate Programs Nepal The Art of Living Foundation, Ms. Neeva M Pradhan, and her team.
According to Ms. Pradhan, there were over 100 participants including students and teachers from different colleges. Colleges included Kathmandu Engineering College, Silver Mountain, Xavier Academy and St. Xavier’s. Also, volunteers from the Art of Living and SPCA Nepal were present, she added.
Apart from Kalimati-Balkhu area, groups of students went around, doing the same, in Kalimati – Kalanki, and Kalanki – Swayambhu stretches as well. And collectively, they put reflective collars on over 50 calves, bulls and also few dogs.
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So, how effective are reflective collars?
As put by Ms. Pradhan, this was only a short-term solution to our age-old bovine problem. “Today’s program is only to bring awareness to community about the increasing number of animals on the streets. We certainly hope that involving youth in our campaign will act as a catalyst. Meanwhile, we hope that reflective collars help to minimize the number of accidents that occur because of these animals, especially during the night. And with our continuous effort, we aim to call for help on government level in relocating the animals safely, off the streets.”
But this is not an entirely new concept. According to Ms. Pradhan, a veterinary doctor Mr. Pranav Joshi and his team from Vet for Your Pet Clinic conducted the same campaign in Bhaktapur back in 2015. Their campaign to put reflective collars attracted the attention of locals and the authorities likewise. The campaign was not a permanent solution and we can see stray cows every now and then in Bhaktapur. However, they now have authorities involved that quickly respond, working hand-in-hand to take care of stray calves or bulls. They are also helping Ms Pradhan in the campaign in Kathmandu.
Similar campaigns for dogs and cows were also conducted in many parts of India like Pune, Chennai and New Delhi among others. They carried the same motive and were seen to be successful in reducing the number of accidents.
Also under the campaign, Pradhan confirmed there will be a series of such events and it will extend to Lalitpur. “We had a meeting with the Lalitpur Metropolitan City Mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan on Friday. We discussed stray animals in Patan and the problem they cause in traffic. He shared their plans to solve it and has agreed to join hands to take the animals off the streets.”
There are about 8,000 cows, calves, and bulls stranded on the streets of Kathmandu. But the government or the local bodies have shown passivity in their attempt to remove these animals. With this campaign, we can certainly hope that the right authorities give their attention to the problem in Kathmandu.