Aiding Ailing Animals in Nepal
HYDERABAD: While the residents of Nepal were picking up bits and pieces of their belongings damaged by the earthquake on April 25, mother nature once again asserted her destructive power on the nation and the neighbouring regions, most of which were already affected by the former quake. The entire world came forward to help and rescue operations are being carried out not just for people, but for ailing animals too.
One among those is Dr Surendra Prasad Kanu representing the Himalayan Animal Rescue Trust (HART), Pokhara, Nepal. Recalling the day the first earthquake hit Nepal, he shares, “I was in my office when the disaster struck. I could feel everything around me shaking. I rushed out of the office to the open ground. I could see dust rising in the sky because of the buildings collapsing.”
The earthquake affected human and animals alike. The doctor who has been working hard to save animals since that day says, “The earthquake occurred at mid-day when most of the animals in the remote areas are left in the pastures for grazing. They were safe. But in urban areas, where cattle are stall fed, sheds are adjacent to people’s homes, cattle got buried under the walls of the houses and were left injured.”
Most of them have skin injury, pain on their backs and legs. Many are also left with fractured legs, bloat on their body, inappetence, diarrhoea and maggot-filled wounds, he informs.
While HART started their operation with two teams – one in Pokhara and another in Bharatpur – they moved to Gorkha district and Dhading district on May 1. Along with HART there were many other teams that came to help these suffering animals. “Various government teams and NGOs such as Animal Nepal, Kathmandu Animal Trust, World Vets, World Wide Veterinary Service, India, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Canada, Pet Animal Welfare Society, India, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Singapore etc., became part of the animal rescue team,” he shares.
While Dr Surendra Prasad Kanu is now in Gorkha district, Dr Sanjiv Pandit, another veterinarian from HART is accompanying the team at Dhading district.
Animal rescue with repeated tremors was not easy, the doctor expresses, adding that though getting the exact number of animals that died is difficult, around 40 per cent of the animals have succumbed to injuries. “Most of the severely injured animals had succumbed by the time we reached the affected area. The cases that we found were difficult to recover and were humanly euthanised.” says the doctor who has been with the team for eight months now...
As the quake has spared no place in the country from destruction, the team faced challenges in moving from one place to another in remote villages. While in some places they were able to travel through off-roads, in other places they had to walk for two to three days. They used yaks and horses (crosses) for transportation of goods in such places.
The NGO did not only help animals but also provided medical help for human beings. “We carried medicines and some relief materials to give the ones in need. We also left complete doses of oral medicines with them,” says Dr Surendra.
Asked if they could also help animals recover from the mental trauma, the doctor replies, “We could not pay much attention to the mentally disturbed animals as medical cases were quite huge in number and helping them recover physically seemed more important.”
He agrees to the fact that more attention has been given to human rescue team than veterinary team by the government.
How is Hyderabad prepared for earthquake?
While the seismologists assure that the Hyderabad is not prone to disasters, Bundala Padmaja, founder president at Caring Hands For Animals, a non-profit organisation committed to the protection of animals and birds and which provides shelter to around 152 animals says, “Our shelter has a provision for animals to choose where they want to be. There is a shed too. When any calamities occur, they can just run from the place and protect themselves.” She also points out that as animals can sense calamities like earthquake and they can hence run to safety much before the disasters strike
The scenario is same even at the Nehru Zoological Park. Dr Mohammed Abdul Hakeem, assistant director at the zoo says, “Animals are left in open in chain links to keep them away from harming visitors.” One way humans can save themselves is by understanding signals passed on by animals. “When a natural calamity is about to strike, animals start getting restless. They shout in an unusual way. A human should be able to recognise those signs,” he says.