It may come as a surprise that the treatment of the rabbit is not very different from that of the chicken. Intensive rabbit farming is not yet that common in India, but could catch on considering the Government’s efforts and vested interests who term rabbit meat as the “food of the future”. Many more rabbits are therefore poised to become living machines, forced to produce eight to eleven litters per year, averaging seven bunnies per litter – specially bred and reared for slaughter.
The rabbit was the first animal farmed in India for its fur. At the Central Sheep & Wool Research Institute (CSWRI) at Garsa in Kulu District, Himachal Pradesh (an ICAR establishment), immediately after beheading the rabbits, their fur is removed like taking off a shirt by holding its hind legs and pulling the skin down. (This has been filmed by BWC and can be seen in our film “Beauty Without Cruelty” accessed from the home page on this website.) The carcasses are also widely promoted as rabbit meat in the area.
ICAR and other Government departments have introduced broiler rabbit production not only in Himachal Pradesh, but also in Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tripura and other climatically favourable places in the country. In fact, many state governments have for years been encouraging farmers to take up rabbit breeding as a commercial activity because they know rabbits multiply fast.
Rabbit rearing is also being promoted by a number of universities which sponsor rabbit conferences, seminars, projects and courses. It is both tragic and ironic that such institutions of higher learning should be providing instruction in torture and killing and contributing to the incarceration of sentient beings.
Beauty Without Cruelty also investigated rabbit farming as promoted by the All India Rabbit Farming Institute (AIRFI), Pune, which tries hard to find people willing to breed rabbits. They get their rabbits from Vishakhapatnam and apparently see no need to call a vet when the animals are sick, nor are they particular about hygiene. Strange, but true, Indian rabbits (and hare) are not allowed to be kept as pets so the ones that are promoted are imported breeds. Under investment schemes, the institute targets different categories of people like housewives, to undertake training to breed rabbits, promising to buy back on weight three month old rabbits at Rs 200/- per kg.
It is significant that the AIRFI try to hide the fact that rabbit rearing is actually breeding rabbits for slaughter – for their meat and fur. They clearly say “you sell the rabbits to us and do not ask what happens to them”.
The good news is that although rabbit farming is being touted as a money-making proposition, rabbits have not been purchased from many village breeders. People are cautious about going in for it despite NABARD offering loans for rabbit farming. Many people have learnt the hard way that rabbit farming is not a lucrative business. It may not be possible for BWC to stop rabbit farming altogether, but we are trying to curtail its growth by condemning their breeding for killing, and highlighting the fact that people are being cheated.
Meat of rabbit is served in some restaurants of India. Chettinad cuisine includes rabbit; and, dhabas or roadside eateries, particularly on the outskirts of Hyderabad, often serve biryani and other dishes made of rabbit meat.
Rabbit meat and fur too is called lapin, especially when dyed to imitate a more expensive fur. Rabbit fur is converted into mufflers, hats, caps, coats, garments, gloves, footwear, handbags, bags, purses, trimmings, rugs, plushies/soft toys, ornaments, knickknacks, etc. The industry also produces various novelty items such as the “lucky” rabbit’s foot charm and other trinkets. It is unfortunate for the rabbit that its ears, teeth, tails, and even rumps are made into ornaments, garnishments and toys. Such items are commonly seen displayed by shops in hill stations and at Kashmir emporiums. It is shocking and equally sad that some grooms proudly wear white rabbit fur headgear for their wedding ceremonies.
The fur or hair taken off from the pelts of slaughtered Angora rabbits is mixed with other animal wool and used in the making of Angora wool items. So some thing marked “Angora wool” could very well be rabbit fur, not wool of the rabbit.
Support the BWC campaign by pledging never to use rabbit or any other animal’s fur. Meanwhile BWC will continue in its efforts to convince the Government to ban the breeding and killing of rabbits for their meat and fur.
For detailed information on Rabbits please read