This week, a team of veterinarians and disaster relief experts from Humane Society International — armed with medicines, vaccines, surgical equipment, and other supplies — touched down in Nepal, the mountainous nation most famous for its sherpas and high-altitude mountain climbing. Nepal was horribly shaken last weekend by an earthquake that registered 7.8 on the Richter scale, centered in the capital of Kathmandu.
Over the coming days, our expert HSI disaster responders will work with local animal welfare groups and other international organizations in affected areas to bring relief to the hundreds of thousands of animal victims of the earthquake.
Natural disasters, we know from experience, take a heavy toll on animals, just as they do on humans. In Nepal, animal victims range from family pets to street dogs and farm animals that have been killed, injured, lost, or abandoned. They now face starvation, dehydration, and illness – unless they get help fast.
“For many people, their animals are all they have left, so HSI’s animal aid is a vital lifeline,” said Rahul Sehgal, HSI-Asia director, who is on the ground in Nepal. “Over the past few days we’ve been here, our team has encountered some horrific scenes of devastation — for humans and the animals. There are hurt, sick, and starving animals everywhere we go, and we are working night and day to help as many as we can.”
Some of the hardest hit areas are small agricultural villages in which animals are an important presence and often critical to the survival of a family. Our team has been touring these villages to assess the earthquake’s impact and to provide relief. In the village of Pahade Tole, animals, including farm animals and dogs, have no food and nowhere to sleep because the ground is soggy after days and days of incessant rain. In Tika Bhairav village, more than a thousand animal deaths have been reported.
The HSI team is also seeing the strength of the human-animal bond. In Sengden village, Purnima Tamang, who has no family except her eight goats, refused to leave the remains of her home because she does not want to leave her goats. “Call them what you want – my property, my family, my friends…. They are all I have left,” she told our team, crying. The goats are sick with respiratory problems because they’ve been soaking in the rain for five days, and are cold. Our team is now helping them with medicine and food.
For those Nepalese who have lost loved ones and so much else in their lives, the further loss of the animals on whom they depend would compound the tragedy.
Over the coming days, our HSI team and our partners will continue our relief work in Nepal, focusing on providing veterinary assistance and supplies, sheltering and caring for lost and abandoned animals, and vaccinating dogs and livestock to prevent disease outbreak. We are also witnessing some small miracles that offer hope: in Pahade Tole, for instance, our team uncovered a basket from the rubble. Inside were five ducklings that were still healthy and alive.
If you’d like to help with our relief effort, you can donate here.