Report from the Asia for Animals Conference (AfA 2005)
At the Asia for Animals Conference, held in Singapore 22-24 June, Dr Astrid Almeida, Veterinary Director of IAR Goa, gave a presentation entitled 'Stray Animal Management: A perspective of striking a balance.'
Her excellent paper detailed the progress of the clinic since its humble beginnings in 1998 and described the co-operation and goodwill that has been built up with the local community. The work of IAR Goa has generated increased awareness of the need to sterilise pets in order to reduce the number of strays, and people are also gradually coming round to the idea of adopting mongrels rather than pedigree animals. As the number of sterilisations and vaccinations of dogs and cats has increased over the years, so the number of rabies cases has fallen dramatically. IAR's clinic is now responsible for 40% of the sterilisations in Goa, and the vet team is now aiming to increase its activity in the south.
Hosted by Animals Concern Research and Education Society (ACRES) of Singapore, the conference brought together delegates from more than 18 countries to debate a wide range of animal welfare issues including disaster relief; stray animal management; the illegal trade in wildlife; farm animal welfare; zoos in Asia and the operation of animal rescue centres. The emphasis was on enabling delegates to exchange ideas and experiences with a view to developing new strategies and effecting change.
AfA 2005 provided a valuable platform for discussion and information-sharing on how to bring an end to the suffering and exploitation of animals in Asia. Delegates were able to build new relationships with others working in the same field and came away with the renewed sense of purpose and commitment that is generated by meeting likeminded, highly dedicated people working towards a common goal. Also making presentations at the conference were IAR's friends and partners Kartick Satyanarayan of Wildlife SOS and Geeta Seshamani of Friendicoes SECA. Geeta talked eloquently about disaster response, while Kartick described in vivid and often humorous terms the anti-poaching work of WSOS and also the management of the Agra Bear Rescue Facility of which IAR is the sole UK funder.
The Singapore conference also gave the opportunity for the IAR team to meet with Kartick and Geeta and work on exciting new plans in the campaign to free the bears of India.
The next AfA conference takes place in Chennai in 2007 and IAR has been delighted to agree to co-hosting and co-sponsoring the event. More news on this as plans develop!