They survived Nepal’s quake but lost livelihood
Ramkot (Nepal): When 23-year-old Shalendar Lama of this village located in the western valley of Kathmandu found his way out of debris after the April 25 earthquake, little did he realize that his only source of livelihood had perished.
Much to his horror, the young dairy farmer lost all his four cows. Sitting on a pile of debris outside his house some 20 km from Kathmandu, another villager, Barkha Joshi, says it’s now virtually impossible for him to raise her family with all her farm animals gone.
Shalendar and Barkha are not the only ones. Thousands of dairy farmers are unable to get back to their feet as they have lost all or many animals after the devastating quake that killed thousands of humans and animals.
Around 70 percent of Nepalese have agriculture-based livelihood and rearing livestock is the main source of their livelihood.
Rough estimates with Nepal’s department of livestock services says more than 100,000 domesticated animals, comprising cows, buffaloes and goats, were killed in Nepal.
But voluntary organization Humane Society International estimates that six to nine million cows, goats and other livestock were injured or killed in the terrible temblor.
Thousands of street dogs and cats are also in need of care, it says.
“Disposal of carcasses still buried in debris has been a major challenge,” Manoj Gautam, president of the Animal Welfare Network of Nepal (AWNN), told a visiting IANS correspondent.
The cattle which survived the quake are in psychological shock and trauma — much like humans.
“A large number of animals suffer from the agony of maggots and infected wounds. Spinal injury is most common but we are not able to do much in such cases. Even fractures are too severe,” said Gautam, who is also the executive director of the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal.
Lacerations and respiratory disease like pneumonia due to lack of shelter are other common ailments.
“Our priority now is to treat and vaccinate the animals. But unscientific and lack of disposal of carcasses may cause an epidemic,” he added.
AWNN teams, comprising veterinarians and volunteers, have reached only those villages in eight worst-affected districts connected by the road. The far-off and remote villages are still out of bounds.
Dinesh Gautam of Probiotech Industries, Nepal’s prominent feed industry, said the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN is seeking 500 tonnes of animal feed.
There have also been reports of large-scale deaths of injured or homeless animals.
“There is urgent need to supply the feed as the villagers are not in a position to take care of the cattle. Many owners do not care or accept any responsibility towards the livestock,” veterinarian Gautam added.
Rasuwa, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Sindhupalchok are the worst hit districts where the death of the farm animals is high.
AWNN president Manoj Gautam said accessibility to ravaged villages and remoteness of many places was the biggest challenge. “We now plan to dispatch teams on motorbikes.”
Villagers say the government’s focus is only towards rescuing humans and it’s least sensitive towards animals.
“No government veterinarians have come to treat the injured animals,” said Naresh Chhetri of Tatopani village in Solukhumbu district where most homes were damaged or destroyed.