maandag 3 juli 2017

Animal Rahat Sanctuary in India verteld in 10 foto's hoe ze dieren veterinaire zorg geven

Water, water, everywhere—and lots of it to drink! That is no doubt what these animals were thinking at Animal Rahat's sanctuary as the water level of the pond reached an all-time high last month.
Animal Rahat

Water, water, everywhere—and lots of it to drink! That is no doubt what these animals were thinking at Animal Rahat's sanctuary as the water level of the pond reached an all-time high last month.

As you can see, rescued horses Hero and Bharat took full advantage of the opportunity to play "seahorse." It's likely that they had never gone for a swim before coming to Animal Rahat, as Hero spent years pulling carriages and Bharat's former life was spent "performing" in a circus.

Hero and Bharat

Lalu and Mahesh
Rescued water buffalo calves Lalu and Mahesh, on the other hand, naturally take to water like … well, water buffaloes! The two play endless games with each other—this snapshot appears to capture a round of "follow the leader."

Thanks to the generosity of caring supporters, these aren't the only animals whose lives were improved by Animal Rahat last month. In addition to the more than 1,300 bullocks, donkeys, horses, and other animals who received crucial veterinary care, there were several unusual wildlife cases, some of which are detailed in this update.

As you may know, the national bird of India is the peacock, and in just one month, Animal Rahat—itself a national treasure—came to the aid of not one, not two, but three of these beautiful birds.

The first was a peahen who had fallen down a deep well whose stairs—as you can see in the photo—were on the verge of crumbling into oblivion. Animal Rahat orchestrated the rescue operation by teaming up with the Forest Department (which has jurisdiction over wildlife issues) and the local fire brigade, which provided an extra-long ladder.

well with crumbling staircase

After the peahen was rescued from the well, she was examined for injuries by an Animal Rahat veterinarian and given a clean bill of health before being released. A local newspaper ran a story about the rescue, which reinforced the message that animals in need should never be ignored and that Animal Rahat is available 24/7 for any animal emergency.

A few weeks later, Animal Rahat received a call about a peacock suffering from an eye infection. A rescue group had sent him to a zoo in Solapur for rehabilitation, but his eyes weren't healing. When an Animal Rahat veterinarian examined him and discussed his case with zoo officials, the vet discovered that—while the peacock had been provided with antibiotic eye drops—he had not been given any painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication. Such is the state of medical care in many places in India. After receiving the necessary medicine from Animal Rahat and careful follow-up care, the peacock healed in just three days. Animal Rahat then assisted the rescue group with his transport and release back into his natural habitat.

releasing the peacock

Dr. Naresh rappelling into well during workshop
The third call was about yet another peahen trapped in yet another well. (Animal Rahat is working hard to persuade municipalities to require that wells be fenced or walled, but calling this battle "uphill" would be an understatement.) This time, Animal Rahat team members were able to make their way down into the well via various platforms and outcroppings to retrieve the bird. She, too, had contracted an eye infection, which the group treated. She is now recovering at a zoo (this procedure is mandated by the Forest Department, as she is a "protected" bird) and will be released when she is healthy again.

While rappelling was not required in the aforementioned scenarios, descending by ropes is often the only way to reach animals trapped in deep wells. Therefore, Animal Rahat staffers have been trained in rappelling, and last month, they held a refresher workshop. Above is the group's chief operating officer, Dr. Naresh, proving his mettle.

Rescuing monkeys is nothing new for Animal Rahat, but last month, the group was presented with a different kind of challenge. A monkey was incurring the wrath of local villagers by attacking passing vehicles.

Animal Rahat sent a team to assess the situation and notified the Forest Department, as required with this species, too. The team learned that a troop of 14 langur monkeys was living in a fig tree. These are fascinating-looking monkeys with white beards and tails as long as a human's arm. Many people had complained bitterly to local officials that one of the monkeys—the male leader—would attack them whenever they drove by the tree.

langur monkey in tree

capturing monkey group
However, upon further investigation, the team found out that a farmer had tried to run down the monkeys with his tractor, and this seemed to be the reason that the monkeys' leader had gone on the defense and perceived all vehicles as a threat to his family. The fact that some villagers had also begun regularly pelting the monkeys with stones only exacerbated the situation.

Animal Rahat called a meeting with the gram panchayat (village council) and explained that harassing monkeys is a violation of wildlife-protection laws and that the monkey was simply doing his duty as troop leader. However, the council (and even a Forest Department official) insisted that the aggressive monkey be removed. The Animal Rahat team replied that this would only make all the other monkeys feel vulnerable and put them on the defensive, too. After a marathon of meetings, a compromise was reached: The monkey group as a whole would be relocated.

Animal Rahat enlisted the help of a professional monkey catcher and worked with the Forest Department to capture all 14 monkeys and release them together in a location with plenty of food and water sources, far away from the village. Animal Rahat also procured a promise from the village council not to tolerate the harassment of wild animals—or any animals—as it only increases the danger to both the villagers and the animals.

I'm afraid that the next story doesn't have an upbeat ending, and I apologize for the upsetting image. But I think it's useful to show all the ways in which Animal Rahat alleviates animal suffering, including—in this case—euthanasia.

euthanized donkey foal

buffalo with tight nose rope
As you know from reading these reports, donkeys have a very hard life. When not overloaded with bricks or other heavy objects, they are turned loose to forage and often run afoul of traffic and dogs. This donkey foal was found abandoned on the ground, dying slowly from multiple deep dog-bite wounds. She had lost an enormous amount of blood. Seeing that it was too late to save her, an Animal Rahat veterinarian stroked her head while giving her a painless injection to allow her to slip away peacefully. In a country in which religious and cultural beliefs have condemned euthanasia for centuries, Animal Rahat is one of the few Indian organizations that involves the community in coming to an agreement that—in cases like this—there is no benefit to prolonging a dying animal's pain.

Animal Rahat's work is never done, as one case often leads immediately into the next. The following story is a good example of that. While team members were treating a cow for a fever in the village of Wanlesswadi, a man named Mr. Patil observed their work and asked if they would examine his injured dog. After they finished treating the cow, they went to Mr. Patil's home, cleaned and dressed his dog's wound, and administered a rabies vaccination.

It turned out that Mr. Patil was a dairy farmer with 15 buffaloes, most of whom—the team was concerned to note—were tethered tightly by nose ropes.

As you can see in the photo above, these ropes dig into the animals' nostrils. When tethered this way, a step in any direction or even a turn of the head causes pain. The team members explained to Mr. Patil that nose ropes aren't needed and cause great suffering. Fortunately, he was open to their message, removed the ropes, and apologized for never considering this before. Since then, he has even asked Animal Rahat to come talk to his neighbors in order to persuade them to follow suit. How we wish every farmer were this open to change!

Thank you so much for caring about India's working animals and the many wild animals who would die every month were it not for Animal Rahat. Without the help of generous supporters, none of this vital work could take place.

Kind regards,

Ingrid E. Newkirk

P.S. Please consider making a gift today so that Animal Rahat will have the resources necessary to improve conditions for working animals, provide sick and injured animals with medical care, and rescue animals from life-threatening circumstances. Thank you.
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