Committee for Leopard related Human Deaths

Junnar taluka of Pune had become a hotspot of man animal conflict related to leopards. This lead to loss of lives of cattle, people and the wild cats themselves. We analysed the gaps and sent a letter to Hon’ble Collector and District Magistrate on the subject. The Hon’ble Collector, himself a person with deep knowledge in wildlife immediately setup a committee and called several meetings. He used his special powers to ensure funds and procedures do not act as deterrent to prevent action. Manoj was a part of the Committee for a few months till the Committee found a common ground and plan of action. The number of human and cattle deaths reduced considerably after the committee began its action.

Protecting Free Speech

Manoj was the first person to be booked under the 66A of the Information Technology Act for stating things that were not pleasant to certain people in power. He realized that the section of the law was against free speech. He felt that this section could jeopardize veganism campaign which relies on electronic communication to run hard hitting campaigns against animal abuse.  He challenged the vires (legality) of the section and argued ‘in person’ against it. He fought the matter in the High Court, ‘party in person’ and further in the Supreme Court through his advocate. His petition was tagged with the Shreya Singhal petition which led to striking down of the section 66A of the Information Technology Act. 

Rescuing 12000 Bulls during Bakri-Id

The State of Maharashtra during bakri id of 2014 had decided to permit 12000 bulls to be permitted to the slaughtered for Bakri ID despite the provisions of Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act 1976, Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act and Environment Protection Act. We joined hands with like minded organizations and got the notification stayed by approaching the Hon’ble Governor. (As the assembly was dissolved then). We also parallelly approached the Hon’ble High Court for relief. The Hon’ble Governor and the High Court, at almost same time stayed the notification. He then got confiscated the bulls being illegally transported from Mumbai to smaller cities and rehabilitated a few in his animal shelter and the rest in other rescue centers.

Ending custom of temporary slaughterhouses during Eid

The environmental laws require strict compliance and control when animals are slaughtered. However, during bakri id, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation would issue an ad-hoc licence to slaughter animals in temporary open spaces. This was challenged in the National Green Tribunal. Manoj was directed by AWBI to argue on behalf of the Animal Welfare Board to bring facts to the notice of the Hon’ble Tribunal. Manoj, brought into notice of the court, the anomalies and environmental destruction caused by the slaughter. He also filed a petition for contempt of the court. Since then no temporary permits have been issued by PCMC for eid slaughter.

Rescue of Animals from Labs

Manoj worked closely with The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA). He has a permanent arrangement with certain companies to rehabilitate and find homes for animals that have finished their cycle of experimentation. More than a hundred dogs of beagle breed have been rehabilitated so far by us. So have been rabbits, genie Pigs and hamsters.

Disaster Relief in Nepal

When earthquake shattered Nepal, several organizations reached there to help people. Unfortunately, many animals were in distress. We lead a group of animal welfare organizations that provided immediate relief to many injured animals and also deployed ambulances and resources to help damaged goshalas in Nepal. We also sent reports to larger international organizations who soon took over the rescue and rehabilitation.

Customs Act against exotic animals

Since Indian species of turtles and tortoises are illegal to sell, pet shops started selling American Red Slider terrapins which were not covered under the wildlife laws. Manoj found that these reptiles like most other animals are in negative list of imports. He took help of customs officials and raided large suppliers of such reptiles. He rescued 52  reptiles in the raid and this created a precedent for action against sale of exotic animals using the Customs Act.

Rehabilitation of Chimps

A pair of chimpanzees were held up in a resort city ‘Aamby Valley” near Pune. The chimps were kept in a small enclosure without any enrichment, Due to which they were losing their sanity. Manoj was requested by Ms Maneka Gandhi to rescue them. The place was under strict private security and open only to private members. Manoj sneaked in several times bypassing their security and initiated legal action. This lead to news in the media coverage and resentment among the owners of the ‘private city’. The management finally agreed to construct a temporary structure of 10,000 sq ft and later a full fledged natural environment. The chimps where released to a relatively large 10,000 sq ft enclosure. Much later they were transferred to Hyderabad Zoo which has a small community of chimpanzees.

End of begging elephants in Maharashtra

Pune and Mumbai region were a host to close to a dozen Elephants used for begging and entertainment. We realized that despite having highest protection under the law, the elephants were being blatantly abused. We insisted on registration of FIR and their seizure. However we found that the Elephants were released back to the owners by the courts due to lack of understanding. We fought a long and tiring battle to prove that the elephants were being tortured and needed medical attention. Manoj  took help of experts from Karnataka and Kerala to conduct inspection, got a lawyer with PhD in wildlife to argue the matter. When one of the  elephant was critical, he flew in a Dr Sarma (later awared with  Padmashri) from Assam to treat the elephant. He personally argued in several courts to get the elephant released to a rescue centre in Uttar Pradesh. It took 7 long years to get an elephant rehabilitated and one elephant died during pendency of the cases. At two occasions the owner of the elephant abandoned the elephant Poornima, Manoj, at great risk to his own life, took charge of the elephant caring for her and also personally bearing all the expenses. He also inspired several NGOs in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai to initiate similar action and ended the practice of begging elephants

Closure of Illegal Zoo in College

In 2006 the we were alerted about an illegal zoo operating in a college run by an influential person. We took help of the forest department and visited the zoo and found that the entire lot of 250 animals were being kept sans any legality and without mandatory permission from the Central Zoo Authority. Despite pressure and threats,  we  diligently worked to get an FIR registered and obtained order from the Hon’ble Court against the owner. All 260 animals were rehabilitated to the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Pune. Animals seized included Peacock, Barking Deer, Monkeys, Wild Goats, Geese, Macaws, Cockatoos and Marmosets.   

Wildlife Raids in Vidarbha

We realized that there was open and brazen trade of wild animals and their parts in districts of Amravati, Akola, Vardha, Nagpur and Yevatmal. We conducted several raids across the Districts and got several people arrested. We also worked with the Forest Department to ensure that bail applications were strenuously opposed and chargesheets were filed with proper details. These actions had a serious impact on open sale of deer antlers, porcupine spikes, wild bird meat, deer and black buck meat which were openly sold in weekly bazaars.

Ending Nag Panchami in Pune

In Maharashtra, there is a strong tradition of worshiping snakes during the Nag Panchami ‘festival’. This would lead to large scale poaching and display of snakes. We lead a group of snake rescues and co-ordinated with the Forest Departments to conduct raid and rescues. Several people were arrested, and several snakes rescued each year. It was found that the snakes had their fangs crudely removed and mouth stitched with threads. These snakes were left to die of thirst and starvation after the festival. Continuous action over several years led to eradication of the practice in Pune city area. Similarly several actions were taken against snake ‘charmers’ and madaris making them switch to rubber snakes.

Circus Rescues

Manoj was a member of the committee for circus rescue formed by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO). He lead several rescues of animals from circuses which incudes Moonlight Circus, Rambo Circus, Amar Circus among the leading ones. Animals involved include Elephants, Hippopotamus, Cockatoos, Macaws, Dogs, Horses, Camels and Chimpanzees.

End of open wildlife trade in Pune

We discovered that the Wildlife Protection Act remained only on paper and right in the middle of the city, there was open sale of parrots, turtles, tortoises as pets in shops in Pune. We undertook several raids in Pune and affected several arrests and rescued around 300 birds and animals. When the police and forest department cited inability to take care of the rescued birds, we personally took charge of several rescued baby birds and tended to them at our office till they could be released back. We released all the birds and animals after seeking appropriate orders from the courts with help of wildlife experts.  

Supreme Court judgment in AWBI vs A Nagaraja

Jallikattu remains a passion for people in certain regions of India and anyone opposing the same is considered against the region or state. When the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed order directing inspection of the Jallikattu, the AWBI was unable to get a realistic report on the happenings, apparently the local HAWOs were under pressure to not to give a true picture of cruelty involved in Jallikattu. Manoj visited the places including Alanganallur Avaniapuram, Ponnamaravathy,  Venthanpatti, Sravayal, Palemedu where there was considerable opposition to his visit and he was openly threatened by the organizers and local against ‘negative’ reporting. He hired a contingent of photographers and videographers in each of the districts who covered all areas of the events. His report was liked by the AWBI and also considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547 as one of the main reasons for bringing an end to cruel rural sports and upholding the ban on such practices

Arresting Snake Manu

Snake Manu alias C Manoharan, a small time actor used to demonstrate his skills by eating snakes and lizards live. Despite the law he had demonstrated his skills before District Collectors and Senior Police officers and maintained a good network within Tamilnadu. Manoj got a tip off that he was to deliver a consignment of crocodiles and snakes to a buyer in New Delhi. In a well-co-ordinated operation, he was caught red handed with the Wild Animals and FIRs were filed against him in New Delhi, Chennai and original place where the crocodiles and snakes were captured.