Dolphins will become innocent victims in a war they do not choose


Animal rights activists have condemned the Indian Navy's proposal of using dolphins to plant mines on enemy ships and submarines and asked it to end this "inhuman" practice.

"All nations must reject such use of animals whether for warfare or for chemical and biological tests," Poorva Joshipura of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals in the western port city of Bombay said. Innocent dolphins will become victims in a war they do not choose, he added.

Other non-governmental organisations working to preserve marine life said counties like Russia and the US had abandoned the use of dolphins as underwater saboteurs as they were unable to distinguish between friend and foe.

"Western navies found that despite their stupendous intelligence, dolphins were unable to tell the difference between ships and could easily end up planting mines on those from their own side," Mitali Kakkar of Reef Watch Marine Conservation in Bombay said.

India is possibly the only country that is persisting in pursuing this potentially dangerous programme, Ms Kakkar stated. She also appealed to the navy to abandon training dolphins for war.

Defence officials said trials using trained dolphins to deposit mines on ships over the past year off India's western coast had been "favourable" and would eventually minimise the risk for naval divers during war.

"Naval divers are required to swim long distances to reach their target", O P Yadav of the Ammunition Factory at Kirkee in western India that produces the Maindeka limpet mine that the navy uses. The element of fear, irrespective of courage, always exists during missions of this kind that can prove highly risky.

Highly skilled divers surreptitiously fix these magnetic-based mines that weigh around 6.5 kg each and operate on an electric timer at vulnerable spots on enemy ships. But nowadays they ran a high risk of being detected by sensors and sensitive radar that together can distinguish even the slightest "discrepancy" underwater.

"In the name of advancement man taps the potential of an animal that has learnt to peacefully co-exist with others and drags it into battle" Jigeesha Thakore of the All India Animal Welfare Association said, denouncing the use of dolphins for war.