From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2012:
COIMBATORE, ERODE, NAMAKKAL--A five-year-old emu speculation bubble in August 2012 burst in India just as others have around the world for decades, leaving thousands of bankrupt investors, more than 15,000 starving birds in Tamil Nadu state alone, and humane societies including the Blue Cross of India struggling to accommodate surviving birds who were impounded by law enforcement, while the Animal Welfare Board of India tried to devise a national response plan.
“At least 10 emus died of hunger and starvation over the last few days. Hence, we have taken up the task of taking care of them besides conducting the investigations,” a revenue official in Erode told the Deccan Chronicle as the case broke. The crisis rapidly expanded. Madurai district collector V.K. Shanugam, who had warned investors away from emu farming schemes in May 2012, arranged for hundreds of emus to receive emergency rations, after hundreds died.
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on September 18, 2012 allocated the equivalent of $187,000 to feed abandoned emus.”In a bid to control damage after the business fell, many emu farm companies are slaughtering the birds,” reported Jayashree Nandi of the Times of India News Network. But the meat, feathers, and oil that were promoted as a get-rich-quick scheme were not in strong demand.
Susi Emu Farms managing director M.S. Guru went “underground” on August 6, 2012, reported K.A. Shaji of the Times of India News Network, after he was charged in the first of a string of cases eventually alleging that Susi Emu Farms defrauded more than 12,000 mostly small investors. Ten other alleged central figures in the nationwide scheme were arrested during the next several weeks. M.S. Guru himself was apprehended on September 5, 2012 and brought to court under “tight security,” The Hindu reported.
“As per police estimates,” Shaji said, ”there were over 250 promoters of contract farming of this bird across Tamil Nadu,” and many more in other states. Each contract farmer who bought into the Suzi Emu Farms scheme was expected to sell shares in the scheme to dozens or even hundreds of silent partners, who hoped to reap profits exceeding the returns from conventional forms of investment.
Originating in the U.S. more than 20 years ago, emu farming pyramid schemes were exposed in detail in the January/Febuary 1994 ANIMAL PEOPLE cover feature “Ostrich and emu speculators: will they get rich quick or just get the bird?” Upon learning that emu farm speculation had emerged in India and other parts of Asia, ANIMAL PEOPLE repeatedly distributed the 1994 article and follow-ups pertaining to the criminal convictions of emu promoters via both the Asian Animal Protection Network and Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations. People for Animals and PETA/India also distributed warnings.
“The district collectors of Salem, Erode, Coimbatore, Tirupur and Namakkal even issued press statements on several occasions warning public against investing in such firms,” recalled Shaji. But prominent politicians were involved in promoting the emu scam, reported the Deccan Chronicle, including Indian chief minister of state V. Narayanasamy, who was photographed cutting the ribbon to open a New Delhi branch of Susi Emu Farms.
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