Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said that the Semchen Tshethar Tshogpa (STT) is providing free meat to the meat vendors. He explained that merely rescuing animals is not enough. Freeing the rescued animals in the open environment is as good as indirectly killing them.
“Semchen Tsethar Tshogpa saves the lives of animals, which is good. But on the other hand, they are encouraging the people to unnecessarily mobilize resources from illegal sale of animals. After buying the animals, they (STT) release them into free open environment, and the rescued animals do not get proper feeding, they die from starvation. Many animals fall easy prey to the wildlife and also becomes prey to the meat vendors,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Lyonpo said that the ministry is not able to monitor STT officially and track down its operation across the country since the tshogpa is neither a legally established entity nor a registered as a civil society organization (CSO).
“To do these things systematically, we are requesting them to get registered legally. The ministry has also sent out a request letter to them. Although with good intentions, the encouragement they are giving to the animal sellers is illegal,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo said just mere good intention is not enough to operate an animal rescue group. It requires an efficient working system that can be monitored. At the moment STT is creating problems in the society and is hardly benefitting the animals, he added.
“The Semchen Tsethar Tshogpa has freed thousands of sheep and released them in Phobjikha. The sheep were eaten by dogs. Now the dogs are also trying to attack the sheep with owners. We all agree that they are carrying out with good intention to save the lives of animals, but indirectly they are killing so many animals. These animals are getting killed in brutal way or dying,” Lyonpo said, further adding that STT can seek support help and support from the ministry if it registers legally as a CSO.
Lyonpo said just as the ministry cannot promote the selling of meat in the country, it also cannot stop the meat vendors from selling meat as they have a right to making a living.
He said the people have to be careful while selling or buying meat. It has been few weeks since the country banned the import of meat to contain the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Lyonpo also said there is a high risk of getting infected with swine flu, so people should avoid the consumption of local and imported pork.
“It will be better if people can also avoid eating local pork at the moment. The African swine fever has risk of transmission through wild boars and uncared for Tshethar pigs let loose in the open environment,” Lyonpo said.