Thursday, 26 July 2007

Shambo: they've come to get him!

Shambo is a sacred temple bullock at the Skanda Vale centre in south Wales. For the Hindu monks at the centre, all life is sacred. Three months ago, Shambo tested positive on a routine test for bovine TB. This led to an order for his slaughter, which was appealed by the monks at Skanda Vale. The argument put forward was that all other animals on farms in Wales, who tested positive had to be slaughtered and that Shambo should not be an exception.
In my opinion, there are good reasons for Shambo being an exception. Firstly, the animals at Skanda Vale will never enter the food chain. Skanda Vale is not a farm. It is spiritual community, run by Hindu monks. Secondly, Shambo is a sacred temple bullock and therefore has great spiritual significance to the community at Skanda Vale. To devout Hindus all life is sacred. Attempts to save Shambo have sadly failed. Here is the timeline for the story.

27 April 2007: The six-year-old black Friesian tests positive for bovine TB during a routine screening. It begins living away from the community's 50-strong herd.

5 May 2007: Hindu monks at Skanda Vale are given notification that veterinary officials will slaughter Shambo by 21 May.

9 May 2007: An appeal is launched by the monks to prevent the proposed slaughter of Shambo. They say that all life is sacred and begin an online petition and mount a legal challenge against the killing.

Slaughtering Shambo would 'violate' tradition said the Hindu forum

11 May 2007: Senior vets from the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) call for the monks to obey the law and allow the bullock to be slaughtered to ensure the disease does not spread.

14 May 2007: The National Farmers' Union (NFU) Cymru says exceptions could not be made for Shambo, and that while they had sympathy, the animal should be put down.

19 May 2007: Leading vet Graham Brooks of the BCVA adds his voice to calls for Shambo to be killed saying the longer the bullock remained alive, the greater the risk any infection could be passed on.

7 June 2007: Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Conservatives all call for Shambo to be put down and say new rural development minister Jane Davidson should take action.

26 June 2007: Ms Davidson says she is "minded" to proceed with the slaughter order. The Hindu Council UK expresses regret at the decision but says it could be time to "let go".

29 June 2007: Lawyers for Shambo's owners make a last-ditch legal appeal under human rights laws to halt its destruction. They also outline how monks would further test, isolate and treat Shambo.

3 July 2007: Ms Davidson announces that Shambo will be slaughtered but allows the monks time to launch an application for a judicial review.

12 July 2007: Lawyers for Shambo's owners argue in court for a reprieve for the bullock, saying that it would breach article nine of the Human Rights Convention on religious freedom.

16 July 2007: High court judge, His Honour Judge Gary Hickinbottom, quashes the slaughter notice, ruling the decisions of 3 May and 3 July to issue the slaughter notice and to pursue it were unlawful. The Welsh Assembly Government appeals.

23 July 2007: The Court of Appeal overturns Judge Gary Hickinbottom's ruling after an appeal by the Welsh Assembly Government. It says it wants to act with "the minimum of distress to the animal and its carers".

24 July 2007: Brother Alex, a senior monk at Skanda Vale, concedes the religious community is "pretty much at the end of the road" in their legal fight.

25 July 2007: The monks announce they have been told Shambo will be taken away for slaughter at 8am the next day.

26 July 2007: Supporters from around the UK and abroad join the monks in staging a pooja religious ceremony as vets arrive to take Shambo for slaughter. But the officials are refused entry and must return later with a magistrates' warrant.

At just after 7pm, BST, the news is that Welsh Assembly vets returned with a warrant, the protestors have been removed and Shambo is being loaded into a van.

The routine test which showed Shambo as positive for bovine TB is, apparently notoriously inaccurate. Even a test by an independent vet, which showed that Shambo was in good health did not sway the Welsh Assembly.

It is a very sad day for me, for Skanda Vale and its monks who are dedicated to the sanctity of all life and for anyone who is interested in the rights of an animal like Shambo to live out his natural life in peace and safety in a natural and caring environment.

Skanda Vale

The Welsh Assembly vets and the police have desecrated a Hindu Temple to take Shambo away to be slaughtered.


Cwlcymro said...

The bull was a danger to human and animal health. Hinduism allow the taking of life for the greater good.

It would have been much better for the image of Hinduism, and in fact would be a much better act of Hinduism for the monks to allow the slaughter while celebrating the bull's life and his sacrifice for the greater good.

Imagine how many animal lives could have been saved if all those legal costs had been donated to the RSPCA instead.

AnnaEsse said...

Thank you for your comments. I feel quite reassured by the fact that Shambo must have had a good life in the care of the monks at Skanda Vale.