Saripalli Chanavenkateshwaram Rao’s rooster cut his throat with the blades attached to its feet on the way to an illegal cockfighting event.
While cockfighting has been illegal in India for 60 years, the inhumane practice lives on — to the detriment of both people and animals. Gauri Maulekhi, a trustee for India’s People for Animals organization, expressed her frustration:
The offenses have been made very clear and explained to the district and state authorities, but they choose to turn a blind eye towards it. It is not just for entertainment that these animals are made to fight, but it is [also] due to the heavy betting and gambling that goes on in the garb of these events.
Maulekhi also disdained the idea that it should be considered a cultural practice. “I don’t think culture has anything to do with it — it is purely a money game and hysteria takes over, reason and logic just take a back seat such that neither the animal’s welfare nor the people’s welfare is enough to stop it,” she said.
Rao was a regular attendee of the fights in his home of Pragadavaram village, in southern India’s state of Andhra Pradesh. But on his way to the ring, his bird launched a violent escape. A police spokesman said that the father of three was taken to the hospital where he suffered a stroke and died.
India is not the only country with this particular problem: Illegal cockfighting — and the gambling that draws people to the “sport” — still sees dozens of annual arrests in Los Angeles alone. Most recently, five men in North Carolina were arrested on New Year’s Eve.
Puerto Rico made a decision to defy federal law in order to preserve the “tradition” last year. “We are certainly challenging a federal law. We know what that implies,” Rep. Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló, who co-authored the bill, told the Associated Press at the time.
According to the bill, cockfighting draws $18 million per year and employs some 27,000 people. And despite the brutality on display, Secretary Adriana Sánchez sees it as natural. “Their instinct is to fight,” she said. “The people who dedicate themselves care for them and train them.”