Aid is brought to the Andaman Islands
Following an urgent call for help from a local NGO based in Port Blair on the Andaman Islands, the relief team from Delhi was despatched there, armed with more than 100 kilos of medical and veterinary supplies. The Animal Welfare Board of India issued special certificates for the team to work both in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which are a group of 520 islands, 47 of which are inhabited. Initially the situation on some of the islands remained so dire that the authorities hadn’t allowed the team to venture there, and for days after the disaster terrified and injured people waited at the docks on all the islands to be taken off to Port Blair. They brought tales of the terrible horror they had seen and experienced.
On Little Andaman, scores of people had been washed away and dragged back into the ocean. Hundreds of tethered goats and cows had drowned, but free-ranging cattle and dogs had run to high ground and escaped. Eighty-five per cent of the island is wild jungle and home to numerous species of snakes, crocodiles, rich birdlife and wild boar. Some tribal people also live there. The water had destroyed everything for 2 kms inland, and saltwater crocodiles from a wildlife sanctuary on the island had come inland on the waves and they were eating dead bodies and even attacking human and animal survivors.
The 'Jungi Ghat' area of Port Blair suffered the largest loss of livestock. Here the team helped with the burial and cremation of carcasses and treated injured and sick animals.
Another lucky survivor: the first animal to be treated was a pet dog in Port Blair. When the waves hit he ran with his owners to the top of the house where they all clung to the railings. As the waves retreated, the unfortunate creature fell and broke his leg. But at least he was alive, and survived to be rescued by the team. The dog has been reunited with his owner in the relief camp and is being nursed back to health.
21 January: Latest update The relief team has set up a base camp at Port Blair where orphaned and ownerless animals can be treated and cared for until they can be rehabilitated with their owners or new homes can be found for them. Survivors with pets or livestock are also being provided with food for their animals. Two vets are being brought in for two or three months to assist five local vet students who have just completed their degrees but have not yet had experience in the field.
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