Shambo: Part 6

Shambo & the sanctity of life – Bhakti & Dakshini


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.


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.

Latest update on Shambo / Bhakti’s & 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.

Michael Morpurgo wrote this poignant story about Shambo…

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