Hanuman, son the wind

shallow focus photography of monkey
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Hanuman,

Son of the wind,

Forest-eyed,

Sent to free

Entangled innocence from rusted snares,

From the bitter clawhold of Ravana,

To guide the gold-winged butterfly,

The shy, dawn-eyed doe,

The nagalinga tree

Of skylit flower,

The brave host of bears

On the oak-hallowed hill,

The bright-songed messengers, in flight,

The belled, meandering cow,

The redwoods of ancient girth,

The moon-

Finned

Minnows

Of silver gill,

Out from the chasms of desolation

Of a world gone awry

Back to the far, far

Reaches of the beginning – before ever time arose

Back to the shining lake of the mountain height

Hidden unseen in the green land of the star

Where mists of joy run

Like horses on the white river, wide,

Where the spring cactus unfolds gold and red.

A day to bring the innocent out, away

In the boat of the canted bow

That fled

Across the storm-bent sea

In the gale-churned hour.

Do you remember your flaming brand

And the fire that went up to swallow

The iron-souled city of Lanka?

Hanuman,

Savior of the innocent, hero-son

Of earth and star,

There  –  hear the call of the raven chime

From the canyon of ill-kept time.

Soon

Hanuman,

Son of the wind,

Breath of the earth.

© Sharon St Joan

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After a while

rock formation
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Tall,

To the sun

And the moon they rise,

Pillars

That hold up the land

Of the stars,

In the early morning

Of time.

Where the chime

Of butterflies

Rings in the mist

Of clouds,

Where the horses of the wind climb

Archaic hills, peace settles,

Free from the shrouds

Of thought bewildered.

When the grinding wheels

Of the rattling cars,

The careening cart,

Of the manic race of beings that never stops

Have stopped, unspinned,

And fallen down

From the lofty wall,

Their memory lies

Quiet,

Dimming,

In the cheerful company

Of ghosts,

In the sooted

Shambles of empires

Cast

Under the snapping heels

Of fate.

Then

The coyotes

And the ever-knowing raven

Will run again

In gladness,

Across the red rock sand.

The wild hills, free now,

As the lilies

Of eternity

Who bow

In the wandering wind

By the bright

And undiscovered

Sea.

After the horns

Of many winters

Have fallen silent,

The husk

Of time

Discarded,

The aspiring rose will lift

Her head again

Among the rocks, resilient,

In the ice-enchanted

Spring.

The wind will sing.

Stones

Will shine, blessed in the twinkling

Emptiness

Of night.

The crow

Hops

In black

Clouds that inhabit

A sky of joy;

Coyotes laugh last

In the dance of the dusk,

And the ancient,

Earlier folk

Walk

To take back

The sacred mountain

Stolen

So long ago,

Now that the age of the unholy

Will be ended and done,

Gone

On the smoke

Of the fleeing mist.

Under a delicate crown

Of forest

Leaves, mice play

Among their catch,

The silver

Trinkets of the dead,

And talk

A while of feats of yore.

Herons glimmer,

One-footed,

On the green, tree-

Shouldered river.

Such an ill wind

That blew

Into the bones

Of the soul

Of men,

And stayed, corroding

The core

Of history,

Such a grim, unseemly game,

Like thorns

Lodged in the heart,

But when the scales fall

Away,

One by one by one,

Then

In the end there are only

The plain, rain-lit,

And the rose that flowers anew,

The innocent petals

Of nevermore,

And the farmer’s boy

Who whistles

In the strawberry patch,

By the lop-sided shack,

Where the corn stalks grow,

His blue

Hat adrift

On his head,

In the town

With no name,

Where the raven rules, with the snow-

Winged geese.

The sun holds the empty bowl,

Blessed be his ashen fires.

Agni, the one

Who returns

All

Back to the beginning.

Set the burning

Lanterns

Out and wait

In peace,

From within the rock and mist

To hear a killdeer call,

To sail away

To a far and luminous shore,

Known so well from long before,

On the flaming ships of dawn.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

The feet of Shiva, dancing

black metal round wall decor
Photo by Nishant Vyas on Pexels.com

In the far

Times

Of the winds forsaken,

Remains the now.

Nothing.  No one.

No time.

No space.

The ship’s bow

Cuts through the open water, choppy.

No crime

Of destiny.

No mistake.

Only

That golden-footed deer

Who leaps from the star

In the heavens

Into a bright meadow

Of sunset

Lilies,

In those more

Sacred gardens

By the crashing sea.

In leaving behind

The tapestries

Of maya,

The flames of un-becoming,

The fear

That lies

Like thin ice, narrow

On the fragile lake,

One may find

The Presence,

The paintings of Kailasanathar

Effaced by centuries – long slipped away,

Yet

More

Vibrant still than ever before

When their black orchid eyes

Gleam in the night of the soul,

In resonance,

Beyond all paths of being,

Beyond the impending end.

The sky-bright day

Of Brahma

Closes now.

The birds of light have fled,

Yet

Nonetheless

The worlds awaken

In gladness,

To rise

Anew

Once more.

That which cannot be

Will be.

The cloth spun

With no thread

Becomes the diaphanous gown of myriads of stars,

The one

Pausing in the mist

Becomes the tumbling Ganges

Falling on the forest

Floor.

The bells toll.

The undoing becomes the being

And the white-crowned sparrow

Hops from world to world, leaf-green

By the bough

Of the plum tree

Along the cliffs askew

In the deep river gorge below,

While far away,

There,

At Chidambaram, where

No one, it seems, is watching,

Only the enhancing magic screen,

All begins,

The beginning, the ending, and the beginning again,

Ever near

By the clear

Moon-winged grace

Of the feet of Shiva

Dancing.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

A request: How to help India during Covid:

First: Go to forestvoicesofindia.com

and sign up for the newsletter – to stay in touch

and receive news.

Second: At forestvoicesofindia.com,

you can give to help. The donate button is

on the right.

Third: Please send this message to a friend

(or to all your friends).

Peace, many blessings, and thank you!

Forest Voices of India

Unique opportunity to attend the virtual Asia for Animals Conference, 2021

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In normal years, to attend the Asia for Animals Conference – which is always lively and dynamic – you’ll need to spend several thousand dollars and around 15 hours flying across the Pacific.

This year however, due to the pandemic, you can stay in your armchair and pay $20 to be part of the virtual two-day AfA Conference – which is a good deal.

Well, it’s really a two-night conference, from the U.S., due to the time differences.

Speakers

Jane Goodall will give the keynote address.  Other speakers will be well-known animal activists from China, Nepal, India, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, and other Asian countries. The conference will be in English.

The 2021 Conference will be put on jointly by Blue Cross of India and FIAPO (the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations). Dr. Chinny Krishna, one of the founders of these two organizations will give the opening address.

Around twenty sessions and panel discussions will take up highly relevant topics.

One session will focus on building an Asian movement to end live animal markets and the wildlife trade.

A panel discussion on Spirituality and Animal Protection will include Dr. Nanditha Krishna, well-known author of many books on animals, the world of nature, and Hinduism – along with Manoj Gautam from Nepal, Wolf Gordon Clifton of the Animal People Forum, and others. The traditions of many Asian countries go back 5,000 years or longer – so there’s quite a lot to cover.

Jill Robinson, of the Animals Asia Foundation, who has led the struggle to free bears from bear bile farms, will speak about the cat and dog meat trade.

Other sessions will feature – fading out the use of animals in tourism, the role of a plant-based movement, and the role of children in animal rights advocacy. Sessions will also focus on farm animals, wild animals, and companion animals.

Asia for Animal Conferences have been held every year and a half since they began in 2001, twenty years ago, in the Philippines. Animal advocacy in Asia faces challenges – as is the case everywhere in the world. The animal movement in Asia is led by remarkable people, who set an amazing example, marked by a high level of energy, enthusiasm, courage, and perseverance.

You can view the Conference program here: https://www.asiaforanimals.com/conference-2021

Scroll down until you see the schedule. You can see the times in the left margin. “IST” is Indian time.

photo of a turtle underwater
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Time Differences

The time difference between U.S. Mountain time (Utah time) and IST (Indian Standard Time) is 11 and a half hours.

This means that, for U.S. attendees, the conference does not start on April 24, instead it starts this coming Friday – in the evening of April 23, at 10 pm, Utah time –  or 12 midnight EST.

To convert Indian time (IST) to Utah time, subtract 11 and a half hours.

If you’re not much of a night owl, you may still want just to stay up for one or two events – or if you’re a morning songbird, you may want to wake up for two or three early morning events, starting at around 5 am. Or, you may be completely captivated and want to watch the entire conference – for all of both nights.

In any case, whatever you can watch, it will be fascinating. It will give you an insight into the dynamic work of Asian animal advocates, who stand up for the animals in Asia – and it will be a lot easier than flying across the Pacific for 15 hours!

How to sign up

Go to this link  https://afa2021.eventuresindia.com/register

But first do this: Before registering, you are advised to call your credit card company and notify them that you are about to make a foreign purchase. These days, credit card companies may block your card for making an “unusual” (i.e. foreign) purchase. If you call them in advance, there will be no problem.

Registration for the two-day conference is $20.

Relevance to wild lands

All efforts to save the earth’s animals (both wild and domestic animals – and ourselves too) depend on the continued existence of wild habitat, which means wild lands – which means renewing the earth. We all live on the same earth – one earth.

******

We look forward to seeing you at the AfA Conference this Friday evening!

Blue Nile

Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

The long-lapping waves of the blue Nile

Light

The far

Land where Anubis once stood

In the doorway open

To the skies

Beyond,

To the bright

Belt of Orion,

While

The rays of Ra were shining

Down from within the sacred wood.

Soon, the feet of blue jackals

Walk the way where flames and flowers sing,

And the kind, knowing eye

Of the cobra

Lies

Awake

Now on her nest of petals,

Wisdom snake,

The horses of the wind run by

On the river with fair flags flying,

While the desert lion

Gathers her strength,

Until she springs

From the song-shadow.

The tree, the deer, and the birch wand

Of bark

Sent within the patterns of the snow-

Gods are held up high

By

The Annunaki, by Shiva, by

The distant Celt,

And yet, always,

Dakshinamurthy will remain and be there walking,

To wend his way

Along

The length

Of the star-intended lane

Watching still,

Through the forest of mist

From the farthest

Hill,

Friend, in the night of ancient owls and petals fallen in the dark.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

A request: How to help India during Covid:

First: Go to forestvoicesofindia.com

and sign up for the newsletter – to stay in touch

and receive news.

Second: At forestvoicesofindia.com,

you can give to help. The donate button is

on the right.

Third: Please send this message to a friend

(or to all your friends).

Peace, many blessings, and thank you!

Forest Voices of India

In the forest of tigers

tiger walking on green plants during daytime
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In the forest 

Of tigers

Moonlight tumbles across

The enchanted lake.

Death and life pinned

In the tiger’s paws

In her jaws,

In her wide, clawed feet.

The silent

Shadow that can never be understood

Stirred 

In the tree

In the murmuring wood.

Ancient beings walk free

In their domain

Awake

In the pounding rain

Until the sun returns, majestic one,

In the living flowers 

Of the earth,

Or in the thick mist

Clasped by the mountain

In the wind of time.

Yet, 

Even the dissonant 

Dust

Of gray, pedestrian powers

Seeps into the furrow 

Of being

Deluding perception, inflicting loss,

Eclipsing 

Reality 

With soul-bending lies that deny

The great ones,

That bring about death and distrust.

Yet,

In the end,

May the dust be as it is meant to be,

Footfalls of the tiger go 

Undeterred

In the bells of sunset

Until truth turns and the moon rises in another far-off clime

In a brighter, radiant night

In the light

Of Shiva’s trident

In the sky.

By Sharon St Joan

© Sharon St Joan, 2020

Kamakshi’s Light

landscape photography of waterfalls surrounded by green leafed plants
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In a meandering land of mystic moons,

At the waystation 

Between the worlds — unremembered, translucent,

Walking, not yet understanding,

Beyond the shifting sand dunes.

At the crossroads by the river

Of fish glimmering, shimmering,

In a sliver 

Of moonlight

Waits a boat of mist,

In a time that is no 

Time,

In a place that is no place,

We walk before the dawn

In a land of gentle grace,

In a land of stars and mist,

As we climb a tilted rise,

There ahead a mountain looms alone,

Home of fir trees, of summer’s moss,

And winter’s cold,

Of crystal stone,

Eclipsed in silver wings of snow

Of thrice-weathered rocks,

Of beings old

Older than the earth – from long before,

Of grandfathers that go along on a bent cane,

In the time that never was – sure-footed, wise,

Beyond a fog-inducing year 

Of history 

Come unpinned,

In a land that will wait,

Just past the wooden post of the gate,

There, where an angel’s footstep shone 

On the dark 

Valley floor – benevolent,

And be waiting, for the dawn that breaks, 

Transcendent,

For the golden eagles to lift into the clear sun,

Once more,

Into the deep blue,

To fly,

To cry,

To lift their sky-

Engulfing intent

In awakening days

Of lakes

And the white, waving wildflowers,

The rose-enchanted nettles,

That sing songs of ancient powers

In the cool wind

Anew,

Where Kamakshi,

The black, opalescent one, ringed in every mystery,

She who is mother of the forest,

Of springing deer

And sparkling fawn,

Of flocks of horned lark,

Of the long-billed curlew

Who tiptoes across 

The water’s edge then turns to glance

Again at the light-calling pinion jays,

While Kamakshi gathers up her winged petals

Of joy – anew,

Now to dance 

In the bright-

Singing rain.

By Sharon St Joan

© Sharon St Joan, 2020

 

What road are we on?

dreamstime_s_130437718

By Sharon St Joan

 

So far, the history of the human race on this planet has not been a happy story.

 

In recent days, something surprising has happened. We have all seen the photos of clear skies and waterways. Towns near the Himalayas can now see the face of these mountains for the first time. In Los Angeles and New Delhi the pollution has lifted, and it’s possible to see clearly. In Venice, in unclouded waters, fish can be seen swimming.

 

Leatherback turtles, almost gone in recent years from the world’s beaches, are now returning to nest on beaches in Florida and Thailand.

 

With an absence of humans who are mostly on lockdown because of the coronavirus, the world of nature is experiencing a spell of relief.

 

An overbearing presence

 

In a May 21, 2018 article in the Guardian, the Environmental Editor, Daminan Carrington, wrote, “Of all the mammals on Earth, 96% are livestock and humans, only 4% are wild mammals.”

 

The presence of humans on the planet is overbearing and has been catastrophic for the other creatures of the earth – both animals and plants. We have occupied the whole earth and are squeezing everything else out of the way.

 

Really, the universe would not mind if we, as humans, took a little something for ourselves – some food to eat, and some shelter. But that is not what we do – instead we dominate all of life – driving much of earth’s life completely out of existence all together. As human beings, we take far more than our fair share. We are, as most of us now realize, destroying the planet.

 

Let’s look at our current world situation. The human race is suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Scientists come to different views as to the possible origins of this disease. Did it come from wildlife markets or from an accident in a lab where experiments where being carried out on bats? Or maybe from huge pig farms? What does seem clear is that the disease came originally from animals and was then transferred to humans.

 

dreamstime_s_92575638

 

So, some people have blamed animals; there have even been a number of bats killed by irrational humans. Yet, the problem, of course, does not lie with the bats, but rather with the disruption and disturbance of nature caused by human beings. Everywhere on earth, the world of nature is under extreme stress caused by human beings. It is not surprising that diseases emerge in such a situation – and then are carried, again by human beings, all across the globe.

 

Those who are brave

 

As we know, in countless countries, there are many very brave and self-sacrificing human beings who risk their lives daily, both in their jobs in service industries, and, especially those in the medical profession, to care for those who are sick, who confront first-hand the tragedy of so many ill and dying people.

 

There is no doubt that many courageous and kind individuals have arisen in this crisis to act nobly, to put the interests of others above themselves.

 

Individuals can and do act with great courage and kindness, and they are heroes. However, though we do not wish to see it, there is a darker side to the human story – and that is the way we as a species behave towards our fellow beings of other species on this planet.

 

Where do we look for help?

 

There is no doubt that this pandemic was caused by cruelty to animals – whether it was cruelty to bats or other animals in markets or laboratories, or perhaps cruelty on giant industrial pig farms – it is in the horrible conditions in these places that the virus arose and was transmitted to humans.

 

Cities, hospitals, nursing homes, even rural areas are overwhelmed with this disease that is suddenly upon us. Where does our attention go in this crisis?  Where do we look for an answer, a resolution, something that will alleviate all this suffering?

 

Understandably, we look for a cure, or for prevention – especially for a vaccine – a vaccine that will put an end to human suffering.

 

Nearly every doctor and every anchor we see on TV speculates on when, where, and how a vaccine may be created. All express hope that this will be soon and that this vaccine will put an end to the enormous death toll and suffering that is being experienced all over the world. Doctors and researchers devote their careers – and billionaires spend their fortunes – to find this elusive vaccine.

 

The unmentionable reality

 

But how is a vaccine developed? A vaccine is developed first by testing on animals, and then as a later step by testing on human beings. In the U.S., the FDA requires that animal testing be carried out when developing new drugs or a vaccine, and that animal testing precede testing on humans. Most countries have similar laws. The reasoning behind this is that, in case a potential vaccine is dangerous, this will be discovered while it is being tested on animals, and only a vaccine that is believed to be safe will then be tested on humans.

 

The underlying rationale for this is that human beings are worth more than animals, and the suffering and death of animals does not matter in comparison to harm that might be caused to human beings.

 

Apparently, most human beings do not question this reasoning. Yet animals in laboratories suffer far more than do humans who volunteer for testing.

 

Animals are deprived of their freedom and their lives in their natural habitats; they are usually killed to obtain the results of the experiments, and they suffer greatly, unlike human beings who are given only an already tested product, believed to be harmless. A little imagination will suffice to see that this is true, even for those who have read very little about animal experiments.

 

Make no mistake, every authority on television, talking about a vaccine, who mentions “animal models” or who talks about getting ready to do “testing on humans” is acknowledging that large-scale testing is already being carried out on animals.

 

dreamstime_xs_65811519

 

On CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church, on April 28, Dr. Fauchi mentioned testing being done on rhesus monkeys.

 

In short, what are we doing really?  We are subjecting innocent animals – mice, monkeys and other animals who should be free to live out their lives – to extreme suffering and death because we, as a species, feel that we are much more important, more significant, and more worthy of protection from pain.

 

We sacrifice the innocent lives of beings who have no power to defend themselves or to understand what is happening or why.

 

In this way, once again, we are exploiting the world of nature, as if we had a right to do that – causing pain to all those beings who we feel are less than ourselves. And this is just a further step in the very, very long destruction and desecration of the earth and her children by the human race.

 

This is not the right road to be on, and it will lead not only to the destruction of the earth and all creatures, but also to the destruction of ourselves as well.

 

Yet blame will not help. It is not for us to blame others, those who work towards a vaccine, who are doing their best, in an imperfect world, to follow what our society of today deems to be right and correct. We are all, in one way or another, following the norms of society. That is what we do as human beings. But we do need to find a different path.

 

dreamstime_s_75947167 (1)

 

How do we see nature?

 

This is not written to change anyone’s view, which is not likely to happen. Most human beings really do believe that we are superior to animals – and that it is far more important to protect human beings than it is actually to consider the fate, the feelings, or the experiences of animals. And so, we hide the truth from ourselves – we minimize reality — saying to ourselves that animals in labs don’t suffer, that of course they are well treated, that they are lesser creatures and so don’t really feel pain. We close our eyes. As a society, we choose to ignore and not recognize the reality of pain, suffering, and death that is experienced by beings who cannot speak for themselves – and who have absolutely nothing at all to do with causing a disease that is contracted by humans.

 

And we go on, as we always have, subjecting and abusing the creatures of the earth, the world of nature, and all the species who live on the earth – all the individuals who ought to be left free to live out their own lives in peace.

 

Although most may agree that animals should be sacrificed for humans, not everyone agrees. There are those who definitely do not agree. That false view is not built into the nature of human beings, and it has not always been there.

 

For some people, myself included, it makes no sense at all to sacrifice innocent animals and to cause them pain and suffering. We need to look for another way to heal ourselves. As humans we have been on the earth for something like 200,000 or 300,000 years, and it is only in the last few centuries that we have turned to experimenting on animals.

 

Where to look for an answer?

 

Not all human beings have always seen nature in this upside-down, mistaken way. If we look to the traditions and beliefs of the earlier societies on the earth, we see that they did not make a distinction between the lives of animals and the lives of humans. We can see this still today in the traditions of some countries. In India, for example, in the concept of ahimsa – a word that means, “Do no harm.” Ahimsa is an ancient philosophy which honors the essential oneness of all existence. Many peoples in many countries – indigenous and tribal peoples, island peoples, hill peoples – often those left behind by the pervasive modern worldview – do still feel an affinity with animals and nature. Also, just regular people on every continent who love animals – whose hearts have not been turned astray and taught a strange modern worldview – often do simply care about animals as conscious, sentient beings whose lives have an intrinsic value. There is no need for us to continue down a mistaken path – of cruelty, of indifference, of blindness.

 

Whether we are talking about developing a vaccine or about renewing the earth so it can once again become a planet habitable by wild creatures and humans alike – we, as a race, need to go back to seeing ourselves as part of nature – as one with the earth and all her children. Only in that way can we and the earth return to a pathway of light and justice.

 

That will be a beginning – setting out on a path of kindness – and from there we can find a way toward solutions and ways of being that benefit all of life – ourselves included.

 

We will never be able to save ourselves through cruelty.  We need to leave behind a worldview that mistakenly places ourselves above all other living beings – because that view is neither correct, nor just. That worldview leads only to death, not life.

 

Instead, we can turn back from the wrong road we are on and once again walk on a road that is a path of beauty, of truth, of kindness, of respect for all that lives.

 

We need to learn again to see all life as connected, as one, as worthy of protection and caring. Only that worldview will lead us along a life-giving course.

 

With us or without us, one day the earth will be released from oppression and renewed – if not in this age, then in an age to come.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2020

 

Photos

Annapurna Mountain in the Himalayas   ID 130437718 © Jose Miguel Moya Gonzalez | Dreamstime.com  

Giant fruit bats  ID 92575638 © Satit Srihin | Dreamstime.com     

 Rhesus monkeys  ID 65811519 © Robiehi | Dreamstime.com

 Southern lapwing in Brazil.  ID 75947167 © Ondřej Prosický | Dreamstime.com

 

The views expressed are the personal views of the writer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A message from CHAL-USA about the hungry street dogs of India

mail
This is a message from CHAL-USA, a U.S. based organization that helps organizations in India. It is about the street dogs in India who are going hungry during the current lockdown, while the kind people who usually feed them are required to stay inside.
Dear All,
Hope you and your family are well and safe. In these trying times around the world, our hearts go out to people fighting to stay healthy, struggling to get by and facing so much insecurity in the near future.
In India, as in many countries with considerable stray animal populations, this crisis has indirectly manifested itself as a deadly killer of helpless and confused animals. Tens of thousands of street animals have lost their only source of food – the people who are forced to stay inside their homes in the ongoing lockdown.
Our partner organization in Chennai, Blue Cross of India, Chennai has stepped up big time during this pandemic.
Please, please give generously and help us save these innocent souls. It is heart wrenching to see the scenes of  hungry stray animals and abandonment of pets by misinformed people in the sweltering, unforgiving streets.
At the same time, the best of humanity comes out every day in the form of good-samaritans, angels and organizations like BCI toiling day and night to prepare meals, deliver across all zones while observing safety measures and obtaining the required paperwork to be out despite the lockdown.
Let’s dig deep in our pockets and help our fellow animals and the people making it all possible!
Costs and how to donate:
On a given day, it is costing Blue Cross of India an average of $500 for the food, transport charges and protective gear for volunteers (not taking into account the budget for creating a disinfectant chamber on-premise and loss of regular income and freeze of corporate donations).
Procuring vast amounts of food has been a huge challenge and BCI has been moving mountains to make it happen! CHAL has sent two emergency grants to date within the last month and a third one is in the works to assist with the extended lockdown period. But we alone are unable to fund the vast amounts needed and desperately seek your assistance.
Donors in the US can give tax-deductible donations on the CHAL website at and mark (add a note) your donation as COVID-19 for BCI:
Donors in India can give directly to the ketto fundraiser started by Blue Cross of India:
Stay safe..love and regards,
The CHAL team on behalf of Blue Cross of India, Chennai

Here’s the report from Blue Cross of India on their work and typical daily routine during this period:
80,000 plus – that’s the number of street dogs in Chennai by the most conservative of estimates, some like Wikipedia put this number at 185,000. But there is no debate on how they have been affected by the shut down …They are confused and they are starving.
The lockdown has been disproportionately harsh on them as humans have retreated and restaurants, roadside eateries and tea shops have shut, leaving the streeties no option but to scavenge their last refuge – the quintessential garbage bins of Chennai. With people hibernating, even the garbage bins were no longer abundant.
Starving, confused, restless and moving outside their usual territories searching for food and water, competition intense for the limited food sources, fighting and cowering, it is a cocktail of primal fear and basic instinct – a struggle for survival.
Blue Cross of India – for 56 years the voice for the voiceless – a household name in Chennai, amongst the oldest and arguably the largest and most well known animal welfare organisation in the country stepped in to reverse the tide the very next day of the lockdown. Our day now starts the previous day – with processed food in short supply,  our kitchen now runs continuously to cook as many batches of meals as possible, load up and leave early to feed the street animals. The sweltering heat does not help either. Short of manpower, and running to full capacity, we are now seeking help from leading hotels in Chennai to help us increase cooking capacity to feed more and more everyday.
This back-end team has creatively mobilised grains and ingredients and arranged in-house and outside cooking, thus reducing the dependence on things not in our control – the presently gridlocked supply chain of processed animal foods.
In The Trenches:
The bravehearts of our out-door team drive to and walk the streets of Chennai not only feeding but also distributing food to community feeders. Our own team of feeders that include volunteers like Neelagandan (featured in this news article) go into non-residential areas like the marina, industrial estates and gated office complexes while other teams fan out to distribute to a network of community feeders (what we now call ‘the last mile’) who have been enlisted primarily from our volunteer pool and expanded to different corners of Chennai through community engagement. All this in a matter of a few days since the lockdown came into effect.
We are now “all hands on deck” with every available resource going into dealing with this emergency. All this while still continuing to rescue seriously distressed animals, providing medical care for hundreds of in-patient animals and keeping the over 2,000 animals in our three locations fed and cared for..
The use of our cash reserves and resources towards the un-budgeted street feeding program combined with reduced personnel has severely impacted us. On top of this the lockdown necessitated the complete stoppage of ‘Out Patient’ consultation and the ABC programmes that were providing a steady stream of donations.
The combined result of all these has quickly eroded up the limited reserves in BCI and severely impacted our working capital for running the shelter in the medium to long term.
Why should you donate to us when there are so many others asking?
Short answer – because of how efficiently your money would be put to work for basic sustenance of street animals.
Long answer –
A. Because we are creative and frugal in how we are feeding the street animals, not depending on easy solutions like processed food that are more expensive and scarce.
B. Because much of our work is done by a group of professionals who donate their time and effort on a purely voluntary basis to ensure donations are not eroded by administrative expenses.
C. Because the Blue Cross of India is the only animal welfare organisation which has been audited by GuideStar and awarded the GuideStar Platinum level certification for transparency.
D. And last but not least, Ketto has recognised this and waived the entire fee for this fundraiser so every rupee will reach where it counts for the most.
So, how will we use your donation?
-Buy needed grains and ingredients for cooking more meals in our kitchen and in hotels that have opened their kitchens for this noble cause.
 (Presently 200 kgs of grains and ingredients are being cooked into meals for over 1500 animals everyday)
-Buy animal feed for the over 1200 animals in our shelter.
-Place orders for at least 10 tons processed animal food so we can further expand feeding activities without cooking capacity limitations.
-Place orders for feed for abandoned cattle and horses that now scavenge on the deserted streets
-Buy Fuel and Supplies for running our ambulances and our contact-less food delivery vehicles and to ‘last mile’ feeders in Chennai
-Buy medical supplies for our rescued animals
-Care for, foster and eventually rehome scores of pets abandoned due to baseless fear mongering during the pandemic.
-Buy and Install a disinfection walk-through chamber at the Blue Cross to sustain through this situation without a shutdown
-Last but not the least buy masks, gloves, hand sanitisers for our outdoor staff and volunteers who brave all odds to rescue and feed animals in distress
Do check out our work during the lockdown and what’s happening in Chennai now: