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GPS to track jallikattu bulls [Madurai] [Times of India]
[January 14, 2014]

GPS to track jallikattu bulls [Madurai] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MADURAI: After losing several bulls that ran out of jallikattu arenas over the years, bull owners have now turned to technology to ensure they don't lose their prized animals. Now, a GPS gadget attached to the bulls will help their owners track them on an Android mobile phone.

A group of bull owners from Sivaganga and Trichy will use the GPS equipment, which will be tied around the bulls' neck, when they enter the jallikattu arena. With the bulls costing between 75,000 and 2.5 lakh, their owners are not ready to take chances.

"It has become a routine during jallikattu for bulls to escape the arena. They run into villages, fields or adjoining forests. It takes at least 10 people to search them and for many days. At the end there is no guarantee that they will be found,'' says T Rajesh, joint secretary of Jallikattu Pathukappu Kuzhu.

The bull owners have bought eight gadgets for 8,000 and have planned to buy more after studying the effectiveness at Alanganallur jallikattu during Pongal. "We want to set an example so that more owners can opt for the technology,'' he said.

Rajesh says if the GPS gadget is tied to the bull, they can track its movements on their Android phones and find the bull. "We will approach the Animal Welfare Board of India and state animal husbandry department for permission. We hope they will give permission as it involves the safety of the bull,'' Rajesh said.

T ondiraj, state secretary of Veera Vilayattu Pathukappu Peravai, who has planned to fit GPS gadgets on three of his bulls, says that in the past the bulls have strayed and fallen into wells and drowned. "Dozens of bulls that ran away to the forests adjoining villages in Sivaganga have now become wild and can't be caught,'' he said.

Rajesh said that an airconditioned caravan was organised to take the bulls for jallikattu competitions. The caravan will also have a monitor connected to the blue tooth gadget on the bulls.

An animal husbandry department official said they would have to consider some factors before giving the device the nod. "We have to see if the gadget affects the animals' behaviour,'' the official said.

Jallikattu organisers and animal rights activists have been at loggerheads with the latter moving courts in the past to ban the event. At present, jallikattu, perceived as an expression of their cultural tradition by peasant communities, are allowed only after the organisers follow stringent conditions meant to ensure that the animals are not ill-treated.

(c) 2014 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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