This year, as part of the work of the Animal Medical Camp, the Kagyupa International Monlam Trust is continuing its campaign to save wild birds.
In many Buddhist traditions, life release, buying animals such as livestock or fish destined for slaughter and freeing them to be rehomed in an animal sanctuary or returned to the river, is considered an important, compassionate act which also accumulates much merit. Sadly, in the Bodh Gaya area, it has become a form of income generation. People go into the jungle to capture wild birds and bring them into the town in cages. They then encourage Buddhist pilgrims to pay to release them. Unfortunately, the pilgrims’ genuine acts of kindness and compassion have several negative consequences.
Firstly, many people do not realise that it is illegal in India to capture wild birds, to sell them or to buy them. Anyone involved in capturing or buying wild birds risks imprisonment.
Secondly, the practice causes much suffering to the birds. Many birds are killed or injured in the process, and, even if they are bought and released, they either die of starvation or thirst because they are not adapted to an urban habitat, or they are recaptured and sold again.
Thirdly, the practice is steadily depleting the population of wild birds and threatening their survival.
Each year, the Kagyu Monlam organises a poster campaign in three languages —Tibetan, Chinese and English— aiming to keep pilgrims fully informed and thereby curtail this illegal trade.
The campaign is funded by the Kagyupa International Monlam Trust, in association with the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, SARAH, and the Karmapa’s environmental organisation, Khoryug. The campaign is fully supported by the local police