More than half of them are directly sold to slaughter houses
If distress sale of animalsin the rural India is any indication, then Anantapur district has the dubious distinction in this regard.
More than 10 per cent of the total bovine (cows, oxen and buffaloes) population of the district is sold at the various animal markets in the district with more than half of those bought eventually reaching the slaughter houses across the border in Karnataka and Kerala. As per the livestock census of 2007, the total bovine population of the Anantapur district was 15.6 lakh - this includes calves besides the cows, oxen and buffaloes – out of total livestock population of over 55 lakh domesticated animals, excluding dogs and poultry besides other animals such as donkeys.
Meanwhile, as per the data for the year 2012, close to 1.5 lakh animals were sold at the various animal markets (pasuvula santa in local parlance) in the district, which is around 10 per cent of the total bovine population.
More than half of these animals are directly sold to the slaughter houses which send their trucks mainly to the Anantapur and Gorantla animal markets every week to buy animals.
In fact, the Anantapur animal market alone witnesses sale of more than 70,000 oxen and cows and around 27,000 buffaloes. This accounts for two thirds of the total sale.
The Voice of Ananta, a civil society group, says this is one of the highest in the country with not even the most backward district in the country coming even close to the above figures if the percentage of the animals sold for culling is taken into consideration.
While the Animal Husbandry Department pegs the figure at just 10 per cent of the total sale of cattle and buffaloes, this translates into around 15,000 animals a year, anybody visiting the Anantapur animal market can count not less than 20 trucks carrying nothing less than 30 animals each leaving every Sunday. Multiply that by 48 weeks and you have a mind boggling figure of around of 30,000 animals just at the Anantapur market alone.
It is roughly estimated that more than 40,000 animals are sold straight to slaughter houses while around a similar number die due to non-availability of water and food.
Rise in sales this year
The Animal Husbandry Department officials concur that the current year, has seen a rapid rise in the number of animals being sold, thanks to extreme drought conditions prevailing in the district and the government's failure to conduct any animal fodder camps where farmers could feed their animals free.