In Odisha, in east central India, following heavy rains, a huge volume of water has been released from the Hirakud Dam, to try to manage the danger of severe flooding in the area.
Swollen rivers have so far claimed 34 lives, and are affecting one million people, many of whom have been evacuated.
Floodwaters threaten cattle, buffaloes, and other animals. When people are evacuated, their herds of animals are left behind. Cattle are short on food since grazing pastures are covered in water, and there is no shelter for them.
Kailash Ch Maharana, Chairman of the Maitri Club, which sent relief teams to rescue animals in the 2011 floods, has written,
“The flood situation in Odisha could be worse than that of 2011. The release of water from the Hirakud Dam and incessant rain in the catchment areas caused the rivers Mahandi, Bramahani, Baitarani, and their tributaries to swell, further inundating the riverside villages and the adjoining areas.
“The Maitri Club is preparing to dispatch a team of seven experienced personnel with fodder and tarpaulins to help the needy animals. Your support, in any way, will be gratefully received.”
Mahanadi means “great river.” It flows through the Indian states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Before entering Odisha, it is joined by the Hasdeo and the Jonk rivers.
The Hirakud Dam, on the Mahanadi, is the largest earthen dam in the world. It spans 15 miles, from one hill to another, and creates the largest artificial lake in Asia.
Before the dam was built in 1953, the Mahanadi, at its widest, was one mile wide. Now it is narrower and, at certain spots, winds it way through dense forests. It travels over 900 kilometers (560 miles), depositing more silt than any other river in India, creating rich agricultural land.
The river is subject to flooding caused by heavy downpours of rain. In 2011, severe flooding caused great damage to mud huts in 25 villages above the dam.
To contact Kailash Maharana at the Maitri Club, click here to go to their website.
Photo: Soumyadeep Chatterjee / Wikimidia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.” / Mahanadi River, Tikarpara, Satkosia Tiger Reserve.
APOWA’s Disaster Response team is working to help the animal survivors of the devastating cyclone and flood in Odisha. Our team has been working relentlessly since the cyclone ‘Phailin’ hit the Odisha coast on October 12, 2013. The footprint of the cyclone is huge and immeasurable.
October 16, 2013:
One of our teams, headed by Dr. Laxman Behera, reached Pallibandha in the Ganjam block of Ganjam district, a village with a mostly homeless dog and feral cat population, already struggling to survive before the cyclone. We helped 64 distressed animals by providing food, water, and treatment.
APOWA is a non-profit organisation that mobilizes volunteers and resources for animal victims.
Injury and disease are always common following a severe cyclone, whenever saltwater pours into a seaside village.
October 17, 2013:
Our team rushed to Purunabandha, a seaside village in Ganjam district, severely affected by the cyclone. Mr. Bichitra Biswal and Mr. Sukumar Parida, along with two other volunteers, gave emergency feeding to stray dogs, cats, and cattle. Meanwhile, Mr. Subhajyoti Panda and Mr. Rabindra Sahoo assisted Dr. Behera with the treatment of animals. 59 animals were treated by the team in this village.
October 18, 2013:
It was another long working day for our team at Binchanapalli in the Palibandha Panchayat of the Ganjam block of Ganjam district. Our work is saving lives through emergency feeding and treatment efforts; we’re giving the most vulnerable animals a chance to get back on their feet in this emergency situation. Over 83 animals have been treated for fevers, coughs, and injuries.
“Animals are the most innocent and helpless victims of this catastrophe,” said APOWA’s vet doctor, Dr. Laxman Behera. “They are frightened, injured and hungry. We are providing veterinary care, as well as emergency feeding and planning for vaccinations and measures to prevent a disease outbreak.”
Because of our past disaster response experience, we now have in place dedication and commitment to hard work, and an understanding of what is needed to deal with the situation. Combined with our genuine love for the animals, our teams will be in place until the situation improves. There is still flooding and anguish in most villages. People’s frustration is running high in affected areas.
For more information or to help APOWA’s flood relief work with a donation, visit the website of Help Animals India.
On June 16, enormous floods cascaded through Uttarakhand in northern India, sweeping away thousands of people and devastating the beautiful countryside in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Several of India’s most holy temples are found there, including Kedarnath, which was left still standing, but severely impacted with many feet of mud, and many deaths in and around the temple.
Among the casualties in the area are thousands of mules, donkeys, and horses who carried pilgrims up the steep mountains to the sacred sites. Many animals died in the floods and others, sadly, have died since in the flood’s aftermath, as they sought food and safety higher up on the precarious mountain slopes. However, thousands of mules and other equines remain stranded, in urgent need of help, on the far side of the rivers, including the Alaknanda River.
All the bridges on this section of the river were destroyed in the floods. The animals need to be led to safety across temporary bridges, and there is an immediate need for helicopters to air-drop fodder to them. Some animal fodder has been provided, but only a fraction of what is needed.
Several animal organizations are helping, including Humane Society International, PFA Uttarakhand, PAL Thane, PFA Dehradun, Animal Ashram, Help Animals India, and others. The following information is from PFA Dehradun, one of the groups assisted by Help Animals India.
Starting with the most recent news – on July 3, 2013, Manavi Bhatt, of PFA Dehradun, wrote that the government has now begun building a temporary bridge for the evacuation of the animals. Earlier, on June 26, the army had built an iron foot bridge at Lambagarh. PFA Dehradun had been asking the District Minister of Chamoli to deploy the army to build a bridge across the River Alaknanda near Hemkund Trek, a 15,000 foot high sacred site, with a glacial lake surrounded by seven mountains, where many animals remain stranded.
Two days earlier, on Monday, July 1, Manavi Bhatt wrote “The situation on the Hemkund Trek is getting more and more critical by the day.” 1500 animals are stranded at Hemkund Trek, including 350 that PFA volunteers found stranded in Pulana Village, where “not a single air-drop of animal fodder has been done there as of today.”
Nearby Ghangaria serves as a base camp for travelers going to Hemkund or to the Valley of Flowers. There are animals stranded there too without food.
Tons of animal fodder are lying at airports, but with bridges and roads washed out, logistics of getting it to the animals are difficult. Helicopters need to be requisitioned.
The area is filled with many rivers of rushing water and very steep terrain. Most of the stranded pilgrims have been evacuated, though there remain the bodies of the dead to be collected, and there are villages higher up where people are still in need of help. Some of the local guides have stayed behind with their stranded animals.
On June 29, Manavi Bhatt wrote that PFA Dehradun volunteers Pankaj Pokhriyal, Jasbir Singh, and others were reporting from the scene of the disaster that evacuating the animals is essential. There are very large numbers of mules and horses, and the minimal amount of food that is reaching them cannot continue to be supplied. No food has reached the animals stranded higher up on the slopes. She expressed her thanks to Animal Ashram of Lucknow for transporting fodder, at their own expense, all the way from Lucknow (in Uttar Pradesh, just south of Uttarakand) to feed the animals.
On July 26, a joint Team of Raahat Veterinary Hospital (PFA Dehradoon) AAGAAS Federation and PAL Thane, supported by Help Animals India, set out to conduct extended relief operations for the working animals in the Chamoli District, Uttarakhand. There had been a prior plan already in place to help the animals who work so hard going up and down the trails carrying the pilgrims, and an on-the-ground assessment had been done prior to the floods.
It’s not easy for someone who’s never been there to form a clear picture of where the sites are and of the situation. All disaster are difficult, and this one is no exception. Stressed and overwhelmed government authorities are trying to help the humans as a priority. Animal groups are struggling heroically to help thousands of animals, with meager resources, not enough government help, difficult communications, dangerous rushing rivers, and the nearly insurmountable challenge of trying to get helicopters to air-drop fodder, and temporary bridges built to evacuate the mules, horses, and donkeys.
Help still needed
Help is still much needed, and animal groups continue to do exhausting work to get food and medical care to the animals.
To give a donation or sign a petition, here is the website of Help Animals India (caution – disturbing photos).
To read this and other news, here is the Facebook page of PFA Dehradun(caution – disturbing photos).
Top photo: Courtesy of PFA Dehradun / Food relief team treating one of the horses.
Second photo: anarupa_chowdhury / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.”/ Horses on the route to Kedarnath, before the floods.
Third photo: Samadolfo / Wikimedia Commons / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. / Horses on a hill near Kedarnath, before the floods, July 3, 2011.
The Kindness Farm, in Andhra Pradesh, run by the Vishaka Society for Protection and Care of Animals, has been flooded by Cyclone Nilam.
The main VSPCA shelter, which is on the coast, was hit with a nine foot wall of water, and suffered much greater damage. Because of the emergency, it hasn’t been possible to take photos there.
The cows and other animals had been moved to higher ground, but they now require emergency medicine and vet treatment, as well as special feed, because the ground is so wet that there is no place for the animals to rest or to graze.
Much repair needs to be done at the shelter to fix cattle sheds, walls, poles, drainage channels, buildings, and gates. Much more feed will be needed for the animals, and more caregivers will have to be hired because of the emergency conditions.
Your help would be much appreciated. If you’d like to donate, please go to either of these sites:
Assam, in the northeastern corner of India, was hit in July by the worst floods in a decade, affecting 2800 villages and more than two million people.
The flooding of the Brahmaputra River killed over a hundred people and also killed many wild animals in the Kaziranga National Park.
The Assam-based organization, Just Be Friendly, writes, “Though the floodwaters have receded now, the aftermath of the devastating floods still continues to haunt the people of the region.”
There is a scarcity of fodder for the cows, and the people, who have lost most of their belongings, are unable to feed them. Some cattle were washed away in the floods; the surviving cattle are also suffering from flood-caused diseases.
On August 30 and 31, the group Just Be Friendly, in association with Humane Society International, carried out a two-day relief campaign, “Post Flood Response Operation,” on the island of Majuli, educating people about the effects of the floods on cattle and distributing free medicine to treat the cows. Mujuli is the world’s largest river island.
Leaving from Guwahati City, before dawn at 5 am, the team, consisting of the team leader, three vets, and two animal handlers, in a truck packed with supplies and medicines, crossed the Brahmaputra on a ferry. They notified authorities in Jorhat about their work, and held a meeting with the Majuli Veterinary Department as soon as they arrived, then split into three groups to conduct camps in three different locations on the island.
The three teams found that many of the roads were washed out. Muddy, nearly impassable stretches made traveling tough and hazardous.
At the first camp, held at the village of Karatipar (20 kilometers or 12 miles from base camp), they held a gathering, explaining to people the nature of the cattle diseases and the treatments that would help the cattle, and distributed medicines for 3,000 cows and buffalos.
25 kilometers (15 miles) from base camp, the second camp was held for another 3,000 animals at Salmara and Basamora.
The third camp, held for 1500 animals, took place at Sonowal and Kachari villages, 45 kilometers (27 miles) from base camp.
The next day they got an even earlier start, at 3 am. Twenty team members, with all their supplies, got into a small motor boat called a “bhutbhuti” and headed for a sandbar where they would hold a gathering. However, the water was full of obstacles. After half an hour making their way through the debris, they arrived and were struck to see 5,000 cows roaming about on the sandbar.
They held the awareness camp and distributed the medicines. The Veterinary Department of Majuli had also brought along medicines to hand out.
The people, who were struggling with their losses, were having a hard time coping with caring for the cows and most had little idea what to do. Simple instructions and guidelines, given along with medicines and food supplements, offered people a handle on where to start and how to help the animals. Everyone was grateful and very attentive.
Finished by noon, the team left, and in the afternoon, on their way back, met with authorities in Jorhat, reporting that all had gone well.
The team members’ hard work and dedication meant that many thousands of cattle who might otherwise have succumbed to disease, will now have a much easier time staying well and recovering from the floods.
Dr. Sashanka Sekhar Dutta, of JBF, expressed his heartfelt thanks for the financial support and coordination of Humane Society International and for the teamwork of everyone involved; the Veterinary Departments of the Jorhat District and the Government of Assam, local vets and their assistants, and many volunteers from Majuli.
It was a great start, but much more remains to be done, and the cows of Majuli will need continuing food and vet care in the weeks ahead.
If you’d like to donate to help with the relief work of Just Be Friendly. Click here.
To visit the Facebook page of Just Be Friendly, click here. (Caution some of the images are graphic.)