Animal health critical in devastated rural India

Apr 7, 2009

WSPA's disaster management team assess the damage

The tornado that hit 11 villages in Orissa State, India, at the end of March uprooted trees and lifted people 30 feet into the air. Hail and rain followed in its wake.  WSPA’s emergency response team arrived just days later, equipped to help.

The challenges are huge. In this rural area, people are poor and most families rely on animals for their livelihoods and food security.

Buffalo plough small tracts of land, while cattle and goats provide vital nutrition to mainly subsistence farmers and can be traded at markets.

The loss of many hundreds of animals was a cruel blow to the tornado’s survivors. Read their stories >>

Rapid response

Without shelters animals wander, vulnerable to the elements

WSPA’s India-based disaster assessment and response team (DART) arrived in Bhubaneswar, the heart of the affected zone, on April 4th.

Their aim: to swiftly assess urgent animal welfare needs. The immediate target was to provide urgent aid to 600 families and 1,200 animals.

Working with the Chief District Veterinary Officer (CDVO) and humanitarian counterparts, WSPA’s vets visited affected villages to collect data and carry out emergency vet treatments.

WSPA’s Drs Sutar and Bhagwati represented the only international aid for the animals – aid provided by WSPA supporters.

Devastated land

Their assessment found that an impressive local veterinary response had treated over 200 goats and nearly 900 cattle for injuries.

The DART spoke to local people and looked at the urgent needs not yet met:

Shelter – Winds of 200 km per hour levelled over 90 percent of all animal shelters. In temperatures of 36°C and 85 percent humidity, adequate shade could save animals’ lives. But the rice straw used for roofing was destroyed.

Feed – Feed reserves were wiped out by the storm. Remaining grazing land could not meet the nutritional needs of ailing working animals such as cattle and buffalo.

Water – Water supplies were contaminated by animal carcasses.

Dehydration, malnutrition and exposure increase animals’ stress levels, creating a vicious cycle of deteriorating health.

Helping hands

Dr Bhagwati examines a calf at Bhagobada village

With US$10,000, WSPA has been able to:

  • provide enough tarpaulins and bamboo to build 600 shelters, housing up to four animals each and protecting them from intense heat and direct sunlight

  • provide five days of concentrated animal feed to boost the nutrition and immune systems of 2,000 vulnerable working animals at a critical time

  • help clear debris and remove animal carcasses, reducing the risk of disease for surviving animals.

The provisions will be distributed with help from local member society PFA Bhubneswar.

WSPA is working in partnership with the Indian Red Cross Society – as we address the survival of animals and animal-based livelihoods, they are providing vital ‘home kits’ and psychological counselling.

Just US$10,000 is making a world of difference to these communities. Your gift to WSPA will ensure we can keep offering helping hands, please donate >>

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