IAR supports flood relief in India to protect stricken wildlife
IAR has supplied emergency funding to Indian partners Wildlife SOS to support their relief effort in the Kaziranga National Park helping animals stranded by flash floods. Wildlife SOS and Delhi-based charity Friendicoes SECA are working round the clock in the affected areas with the Kaziranga Wildlife authorities.
The Emergency Flood Relief Teams led by Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder of Wildlife SOS and Dr Kajal Jadav, Senior Vet at Wildlife SOS, flew to Guwahati, the capital of Assam after receiving a call for help from Kaziranga. They arrived with more than 300 kilos of veterinary drugs, feed additives and medicines for animals as well as emergency medication for people, and the teams swung into action immediately by first surveying and documenting some of the worst flood affected areas inside Kaziranga National Park in a speed boat with Range Officer of the Kohora range, Mr Boro.
Rain coats, torch lights and spare batteries are some of the items being provided to the frontline patrolling staff to monitor the national highway which is the area where most animals cross to higher ground to escape the floods. "It is on this highway that elephants, deer, civets, snakes and other wildlife get killed by speeding traffic" said Mr. Boro who was on all night patrols with the team.
A python was rescued just before it was run over and released in a safe spot. Several hog deer and rhinos were driven to safer areas away from the highway. The team also provided an all-night support system to the frontline wildlife staff with two vehicles in the vulnerable areas all night providing the guards with hot cups of tea and snacks while they ensured that vehicles were driving slowly and carefully enough to prevent any animals from getting killed.
"Working at grassroots level with frontline staff gives us an insight into their problems," said Kartick Satyanarayan. "It’s important to work with the field staff and see the issues they have to deal with in order to get a good understanding and appreciation of their situation," he added.
Alan Knight OBE, CEO of International Animal Rescue said, "It gives us all a feeling of deep satisfaction to be able to lend a hand in rescuing these animals in distress in Kaziranga."
In a message to Kartick Satyanarayan, Mr M C Malakar, Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam Forest Department wrote "I am thankful for the service that Wildlife SOS is providing to the frontline staff."
"Our teams are also providing veterinary drugs and medication to the livestock belonging to affected villagers living on the edge of the national park where water-borne diseases as well as foot and mouth disease could affect domestic livestock. Affected cattle must be treated immediately as there is a risk of this disease spreading to wild animals like elephants, wild buffaloes and other herbivores" said Dr Jadav.
The team has also provided 300 kg of rice to the relief camps where women and children from the missing tribe are taking shelter in a school. Their belongings and houses have been washed away and if they weren’t receiving help they would be forced to sell their animals to butchers in order to buy food for their children.
An eco-friendly anti-poaching watchtower was constructed with bamboo and local materials in a tea estate where over ten rhinos had taken shelter from the floods. By nightfall armed guards were in position at the tower to guard the rhinos from poachers. At 2am the patrol team supplied the guards in the tower with biscuits, stuffed rolls and tea to fortify them during the night watch.
The team also worked with the forest department at several road barriers to slow down speeding trucks and advise drivers about animals crossing. Wildlife SOS is also helping the forest department establish several road barriers and Go Slow signs to help slow down traffic by the animal corridors and critical crossing points on the highway.
"The need in Kaziranga is high and key issues affecting wild animals were discussed with the Director of the park. Issues such as the dreaded mimosa plant (legume) that is taking over the grassland habitat which is vital to rhinos and the use of pesticides in tea gardens were discussed with the forest department with a view to a long term association. We shall be taking up these issues shortly. We are also considering establishing a rescue centre," said Kartick Satyanarayan.
The veterinary support team was joined by Dr K K Sharma - Professor from the College of Veterinary Sciences in Guwahati and other volunteers who joined the teams in the field providing treatment to animals.
Wild Grass Resorts and Manju Baruah are providing valuable support to the Emergency team.
The team thanks M. Bonal - CCF wildlife, Chief Wildlife Warden, Director and officials of Kaziranga andDr K K Sharma for their invaluable support to the team.