Puri / Kendrapara (Odisha): The heavy monsoon rains that have battered South Asia for weeks have caused widespread flooding and left millions of people and animals displaced. In response to the disaster, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in partnership with the Wildlife Trust of India has initiated relief operations in the state of Odisha in eastern India, an area that has borne the brunt of the incessant rains of recent weeks.
“Thousands of animals have been left out in the open under the rain or scorching sun with no help at all”, said Dr Dick Green IFAW Manager for Disasters. “Our main goal right now is to get food into the hardest-hit areas as quickly as possible”.
The floods in Odisha have already claimed at least 41 human lives. About 4897 villages have been submerged across 19 districts and 2.2 million people are still marooned in coastal areas. 1667 livestock including cattle, goats and poultry is dead. With continuing rain forecasted, the disaster will likely linger for several weeks.
Working with local partners APOWA (Action for Protection of Wild Animals) and AMRF (Arupa Mission Research Foundation) through a collaborative Emergency Relief Network (ERN), a relief project has been initiated that is distributing feed and providing veterinary assistance to thousands of impacted animals.
Five veterinarians and more than 20 volunteers are spread across the districts of Puri and Kendrapara attending to these animals besides visiting homes and advising people on hygiene. 9.5 metric tonnes of animal feed has been distributed. Health camps are being organised and shelters built in places where the situation in grave.
“The flood relief team is reaching out to remote and cut off villages in the most affected areas,” Dr NVK Ashraf, Chief Veterinarian, WTI. “Most of the animals brought to the veterinarians are very weak, they have lost their body condition to starvation. High incidents of respiratory ailments and diarrhea are being reported.”
In September of 2008, IFAW and WTI conducted animal relief operations in India’s northern state of Bihar after a deadly combination of monsoon rains and a dam burst caused a deluge that spread over countless miles of farming land.