n 2007, Skanda Vale became the focus of an intense political debate about the sanctity of life. Shambo, a bullock under our care, tested twice ‘inconclusive’ to bovine tuberculosis. Under current legislation he had to be killed, with no chance for treatment. Our religious duty is to serve the Divine in all of life, so we were obligated to defend our religious rights in court. The story became national (and in some places international) front page news.
During the case, we installed a webcam inside Shambo’s pen, broadcasting live pictures around the world. There was also an online petition, which ultimately received over 18,000 signatures. Below are excerpts from a blog we ran to raise awareness about Shambo’s case and give updates to the press and public.
27th April 2007
The sanctity of life is the cornerstone of Sanathana Dharma.
Shambo one of our Temple bulls has tested positive to a routine Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) skin test. This means that he is suspected, not proven to carry Bovine TB. The current policy of DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is to kill any animal suspected of carrying Bovine TB. Shambo is in a very healthy condition. If TB does develop in him, he can be expected to make a full recovery, given appropriate care.
As a responsible organisation we have sought professional veterinary advice to ensure that the measures we are taking are robust and appropriate to minimise any risk of possible spread of disease either to other animals in our care, other farm animals, wildlife, the members of the Community involved in direct animal husbandry, or members of the public visiting the Community for worship.
We understand and appreciate DEFRA’s position, with regards to public health and containing the spread of TB with the view to eliminate it from the national herd. We have been advised by our solicitors that there is provision both within the Animal Health Act 1981 and the more recent TB order Wales 2006 for permission to treat and vaccinate any animal identified as having TB, with the prior consent of the minister for the national Assembly of Wales. If we were to permit DEFRA to kill Shambo it would be an appalling desecration of life, the sanctity of our Temples and Hinduism as a whole.
We could no more allow the slaughter of Shambo than we could the killing of a human being. Ultimately we would be willing to defend his life with our own. We sincerely hope and pray that the officials at DEFRA will respect, not desecrate, the Hindu religion, the sanctity of Shambo’s life and Skanda Vale’s holy Temples. If DEFRA decide to desecrate the Hindu religion and try to kill Shambo, we exhort all those who support the Temple and Sanathana Dharma to come to our assistance.
3rd May 2007
We have today received a ‘Notice of Intended Slaughter’ from the National Assembly for Wales. We are taking steps to challenge this decision through the courts.
4th May 2007
Shambo has been isolated from other bovines and from contact with the public in a specially constructed shrine within our main Temple.
7th May 2007
Shambo has settled into his new home and is coping well with the pressures of bovine superstardom. Nearly 600 supporters from all over the world have signed up to our petition in the first 24 hours. Please tell all your friends to get on their computer and sign the petition.
11th May 2007
Today we had written confirmation from our vet that Shambo is in excellent health and showing no clinical signs of TB. We also had a visit from the chief veterinary officer for the Welsh Assembly, the head of the TB policy unit and the head of public health. They reviewed Shambo’s welfare, his isolation and the bio security procedures that we had implemented. They were satisfied and we reassured by all our procedures to ensure that there is no risk to animal or public health.
Andrew Dismore MP for Hendon tabled a House of Commons motion which stated;
“This house expresses concern at the decision of DEFRA inspectors, that Shambo the bull, (part of the herd kept at Skanda Vale Hindu temple and monastery), must be slaughtered; recognised this to be a matter of utmost importance to the Hindu community, with some 90,000 pilgrims visiting Skanda Vale from around the country who regard such slaughter as an act of desecration; and urges the government to use its discretion under section 34 animal health act 1981 to reprieve Shambo”.
14th May 2007
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” St. Francis of Assisi.
It’s been another busy day back at Skanda Vale, more news channels piling in, Fox news, BBC again, ITV again… also a number of newspapers following up.
Many, many farmers called in giving us support; all disillusioned with DEFRAS’s policy of slaughter. Slaughter on the basis of this highly inaccurate test. It is well known that cattle that have tested negative turned out to have TB and of course a vast number of those who test positive do not have TB, unfortunately this is only discovered by a post mortem.
However, that aside, we look forward to a positive response from the Welsh Assembly tomorrow. They themselves have recognised that Shambo is in very good health, so we hope to move forward constructively with their help and advice to resolve this situation without resorting to slaughter.
16th May 2007
The National Assembly of Wales has deferred its original intention to slaughter Shambo, the sacred bull at the Skanda Vale Temple. The authorities were going to move to slaughter next week but they have since delayed this action. They have said that they are still carefully considering what they concede to be a sensitive and unusual case. The Temple hopes that this consideration will lead to a change of policy and change of practice.
Responding to the decision by the Assembly, Swami Suryananda of the Skanda Vale Temple, said;
“We are encouraged by the response of the authorities to defer their decision on the future of Shambo. To consider killing as a solution is not an option and we would hope the threat of slaughter could be removed so that we can establish constructive dialogue with the Assembly to find a practical solution that upholds the highest values of the Hindu faith but also meets the health and safety requirements.”
Ishwer Tailor, President of the Hindu Forum of Britain added;
“The campaign to save Shambo has received considerable support from people of different faiths in the UK and, around the world. It is important that we continue to request the Welsh Assembly to remove the slaughter notice that is hanging over Shambo. In the meantime the temple we will continue to take the necessary bio-security measures to protect animals and humans from harm.”
CB Patel, Chair of the Patrons Council of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said;
“There is still a lot of concern among the community, but the Assembly’s decision to respond sensitively to this unusual case is heartening. We would suggest other diagnostic tests are conducted to ascertain if infection is actually present and, if so, identify the area infected and treat accordingly with medication.”
President of the National Council of Hindu Temples, Sudarshan Bhatia, commented;
“The deferral of the decision to slaughter Shambo could mean that the Welsh Assembly is considering various options. We hope that the sensitiveness of the issue and the needs of the different communities can be carefully considered.”
Other UK Hindu organisations that have given their support to Skanda Vales’ campaign include 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 and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK.
17th May 2007
David Miliband, secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs commented on his blog:
“Mahatma Gandhi, truly one of the great figures of the 20th century, believed that the protection of cows was one of the true signs of the Hindu faith. It is for that reason that the case of Shambo, reported in many newspapers, raises such a high degree of concern for many British Hindus. Their representatives have written to me about their concern.”
22nd May 2007
Support for Shambo is on the increase, his petition has now sailed past 11,000. However the Welsh Assembly’s slaughter notice still stands so we still need your continued support.
Sign the petition!
Tell all your friends!
Contact your M.P!
A rational and constructive approach at this stage would be to carry out further diagnostic tests to find out if he is indeed infected with bovine TB. There are a range of tests available and we hope that the Welsh Assembly; appreciating the sensitivity of the subject, will engage positively to enable these tests to take place.
It is important to understand that the animals at Skanda Vale are not farmed. The community is a unique place, because for us the sanctity of life is paramount and fundamental to our way of life and our pilgrims. As a major point of pilgrimage for people of all faiths, the community has a duty to uphold the highest human values and to show by example that all life is sacred.
1st June 2007
Sorry to keep you all waiting, this update is long overdue. Shambo’s story is still travelling far and wide. On wednesday, New Delhi television came out, and today Shambo was broadcast all over India. He also featured in the Spectator this week and has appeared on some of the more intelligent and informed websites.
The intention to slaughter Shambo, just in case he has Bovine TB, still remains. Thankfully Jane Davidson, the new minister for sustainability and rural affairs has now been appointed to the National assembly Government for Wales. We now anticipate the minister will acknowledge the aspiration of the Assembly Government to not only reflect but promote Wales as a truly multicultural society.
A clear indication of the governments commitment to all members of society would be a decision to use her discretion not to slaughter Shambo but to recognise that a simple, systematic and rational solution is available to accurately diagnose and if necessary treat him, thus respecting the sanctity of life and the religious values of Hindus and all those for whom life is sacred.
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. It is important that people are informed with accurate not hypothetical information concerning the law, public health and animal welfare issues.
Probably the most important way to help is for the community to personally lobby the Welsh Assembly and DEFRA to raise awareness of the negative impact a decision to cull Shambo would have on the ethnic Communities and the freedom to practice religion. A solution needs political will and the capacity to think outside the narrow constraints of set policy. There is always room for constructive dialogue and a solution for all parties can be easily reached without the need to kill or compromise animal welfare or public health. A precedent is not set because Shambo is not part of the farming model for which the current legislation was intended.
6th June 2007
Ministry vets have visited Skanda Vale today and yesterday to carry out a routine bTB skin retest of the remainder of our herd of 52 cattle and water buffalo. We took the precautionary measure of recording all the testing on film. Its seems remarkable that a decision on whether or not to kill an animal is based on a vet gauging a fold of skin in millimetres with a calliper on an animal that is often nervous and moving around. Moreover, the result of the test is determined by in effect measuring the difference between two sets of separate measurements with one set being read 72 hours after the other, supposedly with the vet gauging exactly the same fold of skin.
Some of the cattle were nicked by the vet’s scissors, others scratched the injection site because of obvious irritation, immediately causing noticeable small swellings and cuts in the skin… Sometimes when the animals were nervous and moved or jerked slightly it was not entirely clear if the vet injected once or twice to make sure the injection went in the skin. From a lay person’s perspective we cannot see how a reliable result can be derived from such a procedure.
We have been tremendously encouraged by the immense support shown by Hindu organisations across the UK, including Hindu Forum Britain, The Hindu Council UK and the World Council of Hindus. All have expressed their grave concern about the proposed slaughter of Shambo to the new minister Jane Davidson. We have also received huge support not only from people living in Wales and the rest of the UK but also from aboard. This has come from people from all walks of life, all religions, races and cultures.
Our position is that there are accurate diagnostics available which should be used and TB is a treatable condition. Often in situations such as this it takes considerable political courage to make the first step in the right direction. We hope the new minister, coming from a background of championing social justice and equality, will rise to the challenge and actively engage with the Temple, the Hindu Community and all those for whom the value of life cannot be equated in purely economic terms, in order to find a solution which does not involve killing.
10th June 2007
Part of the Temple discourse given today;
“To obey the will of God is one the most difficult things for people to do in the pressure of today’s society but that is why we are doing what we are with Shambo. We have no choice. We can never allow any life entrusted to our care to be killed. He is a member of our family. There is a very simple solution here and that solution is for Jane Davidson, who is the minister in charge of making this decision to realise that Skanda Vale is a place of worship, it is a temple and that Shambo’s life is sacred here.
We are not a commercial farm. We never kill any animal. No animal leaves here. He was born here, he will die here naturally. If an animal is sick, we never put that animal down. We work with our vets and we are committed to spending as much money and as much time to care for life. We know what caring for life means. We have cattle here who are over twenty years old. We have cows that have not been able to stand up for over a year. We know how to care for them, to turn them over, to treat them like you would a person who is terminally ill.
We run a hospice eight miles from here, looking after people who are terminally ill. Our job is serving God in life, and the people in government need to realise that that is a world of difference from a commercial farm whose job is to kill to make money. It’s quite a clear difference. There are many advanced tests and diagnostics available for bovine TB, as there are for TB in human beings. Tuberculosis is treatable in animals, it can be treated in elephants, it can be treated in cows, it can be treated in gorillas, it can be treated in any animal. If you can treat it in a human being you can treat it in an animal. There just has to be the will to do this.”
How can you help us? You can help us by sending an email to Jane Davidson because she’ll be making a decision in the next few days. Express your reasons why Shambo should not be killed. It will be a desecration of life, a desecration of Hinduism and Sanathana Dharma and a desecration of a place of worship. There is no reason at all to take his life.”
“The great divide in Welsh Politics now is between those who want to kill the sacred bullock Shambo and those who do not. Caving in to pressure from the Farmers’ unions, the Tories, Plaid and LibDems want Shambo killed. It’s believed he is a carrier of bovine TB. Why is it that the Tories’ answer to every rural problem is to kill animals?
The new Labour Minister Jane Davidson will decide. She has not committed herself yet. As Shambo lives in a temple, he can easily be isolated from other cattle and the risk of cross infection is minute. In the interests of animal welfare and intelligent politics Jane should save Shambo. Exceptions are always possible. That’s what ministers are for.”
26th June 2007
We have received a letter from The Welsh Assembly Govt legal department setting out their reasons why they have rejected our proposals for further tests. We have until friday to make further representations after which time a final decision will be made. It appears that economics and political pressure have once again usurped common sense and pragmatism. This decision should be based on actual risk assessed through testing and observation, not upon a hypothetical fiction that bears no relationship to the empirical evidence.
30th June 2007
Some of you, who have written to Jane Davidson, will have had a reply with a link to “Shambo Frequently asked Questions” on the Welsh government website. (No longer available online). We would like to respond to the Assembly’s FAQ’s on Shambo:
1) Why is the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) of the view that Shambo should be killed?
Further to detailed representations via our solicitors Jane Davidson and her advisors have not made their final decision on Friday 29th as advised last Monday. Perhaps the realisation that their action to impose slaughter on Shambo is unlawful under ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) legislation has finally come. We are very conscious of the pain this issue is causing in the derrières of Government officials, but ministers are elected and paid to understand circumstances which do not fit into the present legislative framework and exercise discretion accordingly.
2) Does Shambo have TB?
The TB skin test is widely acknowledged by experts to be badly flawed. We have asked WAG for the statistics to back up their claim of 99.9% accuracy and have not received it. The reality is this test relies on an operator measuring the difference in thickness of two folds of skin at 72 hour intervals, measured with a pair of callipers. It assumes that the operator pinches the same amount of skin on each measurement and in the same location and that the operator can take accurate readings even when the animal is stressed and moving about, or if the head is moving from side to side and thus altering the tension of the skin in the neck area.
Additionally false positives can occur as a result of cross reaction to other micro bacteria including avian tb and johns disease, allergic skin reaction can also occur. the relevant supporting evidence can be found on DEFRA’s website dealing with bTB in your herd. The skin test is cheap and for decades was the only test available. Slaughter is not necessary to prove the presence of bTB. The same culture tests can be carried out on an animal without slaughter to establish the presence of M Bovis. PCR is an accurate rapid diagnostic tool that can also be used to inform whether an animal is shedding bacteria. It would not be economical to do so in the context of a commercial farm, but we have offered to pay for all these tests.
3) Is Shambo the only animal in Skanda Vale that might have TB?
The three inconclusive reactors identified following retesting of the Skanda Vale herd included one buffalo calf, one highland cow and one jersey bullock. These animals have never been housed or herded with each other or with Shambo. If TB was confirmed in these animals it clearly was not as a result of cross infection between cattle but from infection due to TB endemic in wildlife. In common with the experience of many farms, our entire herd could be killed without resulting in any reduced risk of TB infection. Killing Shambo will not eliminate the risk.
4) Why won’t you use the new TB gamma-interferon test to check the results of the skin test on Shambo?
If WAG is so confident in its skin test why doesn’t it authorise a gamma-interferon test just to give confidence to the rest of us. We’ll pay for it if that’s an issue.
5) If Shambo isn’t showing clinical signs of having TB, how can he be a risk of passing the disease to other animals or people?
That is why we are requesting permission to give Shambo antibiotic therapy as a precaution to ensure that he does not become infectious.
6) Can’t you use a test to show whether Shambo is shedding TB bacteria or not?
The development of TB infection in cattle progresses slowly. A fortnightly test would give a very good indication of potential infectivity. Risk of transmission to humans is largely through drinking unpasteurised milk. Obviously not a problem for Shambo (don’t try to milk a bull).
7) Why can’t Shambo be kept alive in isolation as Skanda Vale want?
Let’s put this in perspective. Since 1990 there has been one confirmed case of Mbovis to human zoonosis, the other 34 cases relate to a latent Mtb infection from drinking unpastuerised milk during youth and a reoccurrence or the infection resulting from reduced immune response in later life. The occurrence of Mtb in cattle however has been steadily increasing over the last fifteen years.
According to accepted NHS guidelines for human TB infection a patient may be isolated in a separate hospital room for up to two weeks whilst given anti TB drugs, after which the patient usually returns to the ward.
During treatment hospital staff are not required to wear face masks or gowns. The majority of humans are infected with TB in a latent form which can manifest when the immune system is lowered. To suggest that Shambo needs a category 3 isolation facility such as might be appropriate for ebola or anthrax infection is absurd.
8) Why can’t you allow the Community to use antibiotics to treat Shambo?
There are no recognised treatments for Mbovis infection because there has never been a commercial incentive to develop them. In these situations the normal (and lawful) veterinary practice is to use what is called the “cascade” system of treatment whereby a drug licensed for human or veterinary use can be used for an animal outside its licence terms when a licensed product is not available. Dosages are adjusted according to the animal’s size. Our veterinary consultant has successfully used this method on many different species in various countries to treat bTB. If one applies WAG’s reasoning here every human being who has been successfully treated for TB should remain in isolation for the rest of their lives.
9) Has the Welsh Assembly Government met the Community to discuss Shambo?
Yes we had a meeting. Nice day out in sunny Cardiff, lots of hot air.
10) Has the final decision been taken?
Further representations on their way. Exciting isn’t it!
Congratulations to the Welsh Assembly to finally call Shambo by his name and not just a ‘TB reactor’. We have received tremendous support from all the major Hindu representative organisations across the UK, as well as over 18,000 signatories on our petition. The most recent support has come from the Hindu Cultural Association of Wales (whose membership consists of many members of the medical profession). All these organisations have made strong representations to the minister. Do not desecrate our religion, the sanctity of life and our place of worship.
10th July 2007
Our legal team will be contesting the Welsh Assembly Government’s decision to proceed with slaughter in judicial review scheduled in Cardiff High Court on Thursday 12th July at 10.00 am. We look forward to a positive result for Shambo. May Dharma prevail.
“Good morning. On Thursday, Cardiff Civil Justice Centre will decide life or death for Shambo, the Friesian bull born and raised in the Hindu-based Community of the Many Names of God in Skanda Vale near Carmarthen. His crime? He tested positive for exposure to Tuberculosis. Currently, this carries the death penalty. DEFRA’s policy is to cull any such animal in its efforts to contain bovine TB from spreading amongst other cattle and potentially infecting humans.
Most folk know that, in Hinduism, the cow is sacred. In the same way that many people regard their cats and dogs as part of the family, Hindus consider cows and bulls to be part of the extended human family. There is a natural relationship of inter-dependence. Cows offer us the miracle food – milk; and bulls provide power and transport. But it’s not just cows – the Hindu religion regards all life as sacred. The community at Skanda Vale is, therefore, devastated that an animal in its care might be taken away for slaughter – even though it hasn’t yet been proven to be a threat to anyone.
However, many farmers have publicly supported the Welsh Assembly’s decision to enforce the slaughter of Shambo. They say there should be one law for everyone with no exceptions made on the basis of religion. I agree – but I do believe that laws need to be broad enough and should include viable alternatives to achieve their purpose so that they don’t cut across people’s ethics, religion or conscience.
We don’t cull infected humans to protect other people, we treat them. Same with zoo animals. So, can there not be an option within DEFRA’s law on TB for those who want to cure rather than kill? Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.” So, it seems odd that we should require anyone, whether farmer or religious community, to destroy life rather than follow their commitment to nurture it.
The Skanda Vale community takes its inspiration from two principles found in the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita – these are: service to life and devotion to God. Should the decision on Thursday go against Shambo, the monks and nuns have vowed to remain true to those convictions. They feel they cannot be expected to assist in the death of Shambo, but, in case there was worry, they have said that they will not use or allow any type of force or violence to obstruct the authorities. I support this approach. It’s important, their method of campaigning for the welfare of Shambo is in keeping with their message of celebrating the sanctity and divine nature of all life.”
12th July 2007
In the Cardiff High Court today, a judicial review was heard which will decide the future of Shambo. The Judge was fair to both parties, allowing each to express their case fully. Having heard all the evidence the Judge will take the weekend to consider and will announce his verdict on Monday at 11.00 am. In his summing up the Judge commented that Skanda Vale had a strong case for saving the life of Shambo but he also recognised the strength of the Welsh Assembly Government’s position. We trust that the Judge will reflect deeply on the sanctity of life.
16th July 2007
We are delighted that the Judgment today has been in our favour. We wish to thank everybody who has supported our campaign to save Shambo. The Welsh Assembly Government have been given leave to appeal but will have to cover all our costs. Instead of wasting taxpayers money on a appeal we again ask the Government to enter into constructive dialogue with us.
18th July 2007
The Welsh Assembly Government has appealed against the Judgment of the 16th July to quash the slaughter notice for Shambo. The appeal will be held in Cardiff on Friday 20th July.
20th July 2007
The appeal was held in Cardiff today. The appeal Judges will announce their verdict in the afternoon of Monday 23rd July. Two days ago the Welsh Assembly Government appointed Elin Jones as the new Rural Affairs Minister .
23rd July 2007
Following today’s announcement by the Court of Appeal in London, we are disappointed about the decision not to quash the slaughter notice on Shambo the sacred Temple Bull. We have put a very strong case across about our rights, and those of all Hindus, to freely practice religion by recognising the sanctity of life. This decision seriously disregards the principal tenets of Hindu Dharma.
We are devastated that an animal in our care might be taken away for slaughter, even though it hasn’t yet been proven to be a threat to anyone. We have consistently asked for other tests to be done to verify if Shambo does have bovine TB. It seems ridiculous to kill him and then carry out a post mortem to confirm if he does or does not have TB.
The law needs to be broad enough and should include viable alternatives such as isolation and treatment to achieve their purpose so that they don’t cut across people’s ethics, religion or conscience. We don’t cull infected humans, we treat them. The same is the case for zoo animals, so, why can’t the Government use their discretion in exceptional circumstances to provide such an option within the law on bTB?
We will remain true to our convictions, of service to life and devotion to God, we cannot be expected to assist in the death of Shambo. We will continue to seek ways to spare Shambo’s life and celebrate the sanctity of life. We urge you to email the new minister to voice your concern: [email protected]
27th July 2007
The Community would like to thank all of you for signing the petition and supporting us in trying to save Shambo’s life. Remember Bovine TB is treatable. Please continue to voice your concern about this issue and write to the Minister for Rural Affairs in Wales: [email protected] And to Hilary Benn Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: [email protected]
Our efforts to save Shambo from being killed continued to the last minute. Just before 8.00 am we received a fax from a Cow sanctuary called Govardhan Charitable Trust in India requesting the Welsh Government to spare Shambo from slaughter. The trust was prepared to take Shambo if they are given time to organise transport.
Shipping of Shambo was organised by a supporter from Switzerland. Shortly after this announcement the Government officials and the police arrived here demanding entry to the premises to collect Shambo. The officials were forced to obtain warrants to enter the site. Meanwhile we held continual prayers to celebrate the sanctity of life joined by many devotees and supporters from around the world. Everybody present experienced the immensity of God’s grace and power.
Shortly after 2.00pm, the officials returned with two entry warrants. They attempted on several occasions to serve the warrants to the devotees involved in worship. However they quickly departed clearly overwhelmed by the atmosphere of intense devotion. The unfolding drama was witnessed by millions worldwide through the extensive live media coverage. Our website was inundated with hits and unable to cope with the demand. Two companies generously came to our assistance to maintain our site to ensure that the world bore witness to the unfolding drama of the desecration of Shambo.
At about 4.00pm, police used bolt cutters to get through the gate to the Temple precincts and moved their vehicles – including an animal trailer and four riot vans – onto the site. More than 60 police officers then started leading or carrying away worshippers from their position directly outside Shambo’s enclosure. Brother Jamie had the opportunity to bless Shambo and gave him his last rites. Shortly after 7pm, three men in blue hard hats (why hard hats?) entered Shambo’s enclosure. After the police had removed the final monks from in front of the Temple gates.
After so much unnecessary hype about Shambo’s risk to public and animal health, it was clear none of the officials took any meaningful biosecurity measures. No gloves were worn, no disinfectant was used when entering or leaving the pen and a trail of straw was left littering the ground outside Shambo’s pen. At around 7.25pm, government officials finally loaded Shambo onto a trailer and drove him away to his death.
Shambo gave us one last look from the government trailer. We feel that he understood that his life was not in vain. Many people around the world have been deeply touched by his plight and have questioned their attitude and that of society in general to the sanctity of life. The Welsh Assembly Government have committed the most violent and ignorant act of sacrilege against our Religion and desecration of our Temple in destroying an innocent and sacred life. What a sad day to see our government behaving with such gross ignorance.
30th July 2007
Many people have been upset and confused by the recent comments made by Mr. Jay Lakhani in reference to Shambo’s treatment by the Welsh Assembly Government. We would like to assure those people that the views held by Mr. Lakhani’s will never be ours. We pray that through a deeper experience of the Divine Mr. Lakhani will attain a clearer understanding of the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma.
6th August 2007
The Welsh Assembly Government seem to be minded to continue to kill members of your extended family at Skanda Vale. How would you feel if a member of your family has a illness that is treatable, but the Government is insisting on killing the person because of a hypothetical risk to humans and animals? Cows are successfully treated for bovine TB in India. If our animals have bTB we want to be able to treat them like we would treat a human being. After a period of isolation and treatment the animals can continue a normal life.
This is not just a issue for the UK. The following letter has been written to Elin Jones by the Hindu Conference of Canada:
“The Hindu Conference of Canada, Canada’s largest Hindu advocacy, would like to express our shock and dismay at the insensitive and unwarranted decision on the part of the Welsh government to slaughter the bull known as ‘Shambo’.
As you know, this bull had great religious significance to the Hindu community worldwide. The callous decision to desecrate our faith in this manner, especially considering scanty and inconclusive nature of the medical evidence, demonstrates scorn and contempt towards Hindus.
It may be of interest that our members and supporters include professionals and senior elements within North American trade promotion councils and tourist bureaus, many of whom deal regularly with investment opportunities and leisure travel to the UK and Wales.
Our executives, members, and supporters will certainly take all relevant factors into consideration when evaluating future decisions on trade, investment, and tourism involving your country.
We now understand that the Welsh government is intending to enforce the slaughter of two further animals from the Temple herd at Skanda Vale. This is unacceptable.
The horrific scenes of pilgrims including ladies and children and Hindu priests being dragged away from an act of devotion celebrating the sanctity of life at the Hindu Temple at Skanda Vale, have incensed the Hindu Community here in Canada. These scenes were witnessed on world wide media and can only lead us to draw the conclusion that the government in Wales has no regard for the rights of the Hindu Community to freely practice their religion.
Good government is about learning from past mistakes. Tolerance, active engagement and respect for the diverse communities within our society are the recipe for harmonious living. In the interests of justice and good judgement, we ask you to reconsider your current stance and engage positively with the Temple and wider Hindu Community to find a solution which does not further desecrate the Hindu religion.”
Director, Public Relations
Hindu Conference of Canada
22nd August 2007
The Welsh Assembly Government have issued a slaughter notice for a further two animals to be enforced tomorrow Thursday 23rd August at 8.30 am. We remain vehemently opposed to the killing of our animals.Despite our repeated request to conduct a retest on Bhakti and Dakshini in order to discount human error, the government have refused.
Bhakti is a 15 year old jersey bullock. Dakshini is a nine month old buffalo calf. A 0.5 millimetre rounded up or down at severe interpretation is the difference between life and death! Two other animals which tested inconclusive 60 days ago have now tested clear! Remember Bovine TB is treatable.
23rd August 2007
Morning: Bhakti is an elderly jersey bullock. He has arthritis and difficulty walking. We have been caring for him for many years, working with our veterinary surgeon to ensure that he has the necessary medication to manage his condition and that his quality of life has been maintained to the highest standards. We would no more consider it acceptable to kill an elderly frail bullock than it would be to kill an elderly frail gentlemen. Society’s normal way of dealing with those who are vulnerable and sick is to protect them and do everything possible to help them. The government’s response is to kill. Bovine TB is a treatable condition.
Lunchtime: The Welsh Assembly Government have killed these two innocent lives. We remain vehemently opposed to the killing of our animals. Remember Bovine TB is treatable.
23rd January 2008
Latest update on Shambo, Bhakti’s and Dakshini’s story:
Bhakti and Dakshini’s post mortem in December last year was unsurprisingly negative, there was no trace of bTB in either of them.
Many of you have probably been looking out for an update on the current bTB (bovine tuberculosis) situation at Skanda Vale, and how the rest of our herd of cattle and water buffalo are getting on.
When Bhakti and Dakshini were killed, a month after Shambo it was already clear we had not only exhausted all legal recourse, but also that we could not obstruct the authorities in their killing of these two other members of our family.
Since we had been denied all opportunities to re-test, treat or transport our animals out of the country, (to a cow sanctuary in India for example), we felt investment towards the prevention of bTB would be the most constructive measure we could take. The community has since focused on a number of preventative measures to help the animals in our care gain resilience to disease.
We looked in detail at their winter housing, diet, summer grazing, immune system, and our agricultural methods as well as natural veterinary practices such as homeopathy. The deeper we looked, the clearer it became that we needed to return to basic principles. If the animals are healthy and have a strong natural immune system then they are far less likely to contract disease like bTB. The same applies to the wildlife. If the soil contains essential nutrients and trace elements and is nurtured as a living organism, then in turn the animals that live off the soil will also be far more likely to be strong. You are what you eat.
Our soil was analysed and trace elements applied, in conjunction with this we have been using the technology of E.M. This is an abbreviation for effective micro organisms and is a mixture of beneficial bacteria cultures which exist in nature as micro organisms. The application of E.M. reduces the loss of vital nutrients through the atmosphere allowing those nutrients to be available in the soil. Its agricultural use is widespread in Japan and parts of the continent, but relatively new to the U.K. This radical change in our farming methods also means that inorganic chemical fertilizers will no longer be used, their long term use only contributing to the depletion of the soil and destruction of the natural ecosystem present in our pastures.
The other main problem is over winter housing, at present in old, poorly ventilated and slightly restrictive barns. Our plan is to house the majority of our cattle in a large purpose built and well ventilated barn allowing them plenty of space all winter which should greatly improve their welfare. All being well, their new accommodation should be ready for them at the end of this summer.
We received the results from Bhakti and Dakshini’s post mortem in December last year and unsurprisingly it was negative – there was no trace of bTB in either of them.
Our cattle have since been tested twice and thankfully in the New Year we received the good news from the Welsh Assembly that our animals were clear and that they intend to retest again in April. We hope and pray they all remain clear on retest.
Thank you so much to all those who where so unstinting in their support at every level of our fight to save these three animals and uphold the sanctity of life; lets hope we can continue this year in the same constructive way that it has begun.
Selected further reading about Shambo:
Shambo – Wikipedia
Shambo – Timeline of events – BBC News
Shambo the bull wins legal fight for life – The Independent
Shambo – On the horns of a dilemma – The Guardian
Shambo press release – Hindu Forum of Britain
Shambo to be killed – Hindustan Times
Read more about Ahimsa: Non Injury