A massive stray cattle round-up in the Cedros peninsula has sparked anger, disbelief and tears among Cedros residents yesterday, as soldiers, zookeepers and vets chased pregnant cows through coconut fields. The exercise, which started after dawn, attracted scores of residents, some of whom called for an immediate stop to the round-up. Several areas, including Greenhill, Icacos and Fullerton, were blocked off. Farmers were denied access to their estates while six vanloads of soldiers pursued the animals. Late yesterday an order was given to stop the shooting.
Sources say one cow was shot dead. Several members of the Icacos Tabernacle Church offered prayers. Many residents got down on their knees and prayed for the lives of the animals. Ancil Lemessy, of Fullarton Village, said: "They shooting cows with babies in their bellies. "What is happening in our community is unprecedented...We believe that these animals are innocent animals," he said. "The farmers are wrong to have the animals stray. "If the Government has a decision it must be done in a proper manner...The Government will pay for all the innocent blood that is spilled today. "People were horrified by what they saw. People started to pray. This is sacrilege and it is against God. What are the people thinking. They are trying to curse our wonderful lands in Cedros. They are shedding innocent blood. They have started a spiritual war in our blessed land."
Meanwhile, secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj, also said that the shooting of the animals was disrespectful to the Hindu community. Last night an emergency meeting was called to discuss the issue. "We are expecting our representatives from Cedros to give a first-hand report of this issue," Maharaj said. "We believe this is very inhumane and callous...It shows the nature of the people who live in this country. "People have no respect for any kind of life, whether it is human life or animal life." Maharaj said he was well aware of the problems which the stray cows posed to the people living in the peninsula. "The cows roam the coconut estates but this is not the way to handle this," he said. "The animals should have been rounded up and held on a large farm...They should be given to farmers at minimal cost. "My suspicion is that they will use the meat as food in the zoo.
Minister: Action necessary
Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath says the exercise to remove stray cattle in the Cedros area had become necessary as the animals had been severely damaging farmers' crops. A release from the ministry confirmed that "affirmative action" had been taken to alleviate the stray cattle problem afflicting the Cedros area for the two decades. The release said the ministry had made attempts to consult cattle owners in 2011, but the majority had not attended meetings. According to the release, stray cattle have been severely damaging crops and fences surrounding farmers' holdings, frustrating efforts to rehabilitate coconut estates, spreading ticks to farms and other livestock. It said this created unsuitable working conditions on farms and had caused a severe drop in employment for farm workers.