Kerala floods: Meet the people who are saving animals

Promita Mukherjee

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]ven as the rain stops, floodwaters start receding and help pours in for Kerala from across the country, a group of individuals are reaching out to the animals who need rescue and relief as much as humans need, if not more. With little help from the government, they are mobilising resources and pooling in funds to reach out to the ailing animals. Meet the saviours who are rescuing animals — from snakes to pet dogs — amidst the devastating floods.

Pradeep Nair, Hyderabad, Animal Warriors India

“Our group of 10 reached Alleppey on August 20. We have 20-30 cases to attend to in Alleppey and Kochi. We are getting a lot of calls from people who had to leave their pet dogs behind as they were not allowed on rescue boats. We’re using local fishermen boats and taking help from local vets and animal rescuers. Our team has experience in tactical rescues and we have carried basic supply like body warmers, ropes, body floaters, basic medicines, first aid kits. We have NCC Cadets as part of our team as well. Our main agenda is to get animals to the shore.”


Janani Krishnamurthy, Kodaikanal, independent volunteer

“We started a group on August 14 because animal welfare groups in Kerala couldn’t figure out how to help them. So we are coordinating rescue efforts. We put our numbers online and started getting calls from local animal welfare people, NCC Cadets and rescuers from Chennai. We got coordinators for all 14 districts, set up a helpline number and started a hashtag, #WeShallOvercome. Gathering experience from Chennai floods, we are trying to get things done in a calm manner so that volunteers don’t stress out the already stressed animals. We are rescuing all animals including snakes and elephants and helping forest department vets as well. We are taking calls, maintaining Google sheets and ensuring nothing is duplicated to save time.”

Neha Panchamiya, Pune, RESQ Charitable Trust

“We have sent three vehicles including a large animal ambulance, trained rescue and medical staff, animal feed and emergency medical care supplies enough to treat over 300 animals. Our six-member team will coordinate with local animal rescuers to save and provide emergency medical treatment to injured and sick animals. We’ll start with Ernakulam and move further.”

Sally Varma, Kerala, Humane Society International

“We have a six-member team on ground in Mallapuram and Thirur and we are working since the day floods hit Kerala. We worked in Neelambur and Thirur areas where the flood hit the worst. Right now, at our centre in thirur, we have around 19 dogs, 20 goats and eight cows. We also helped shift around 50 animals to safe places. We are getting a bigger team in two days and will have boats so we can move out to other parts of Kerala which require assistance.”

Sachin Stalin, New Delhi, independent volunteer

“We are a group of 50 people who came together a week ago. We are attending to two types of animals — stray and wild and domestic and livestock. While strays and wildlife are relatively safe, domestic animals are in danger so we are working for them. We came to Kerala a week back and mobilised local resources. Our team is physically present in 5-6 districts. We have trained animal handlers, local people who are working as navigators, NCC cadets, and members of local volleyball and football teams. We have built a small shelter home in Ernakulam to keep rescued animals till their owners are found. We also have a national helpline number which we are operating from Mumbai. We are also working to avoid man-animal conflict once the waters recede and animals start coming out from their safe places. We have saved snakes, birds, wild elephants, pet dogs, cats, cattle, pigs and goats so far. From one location we rescued 300 pigeons and 50 exotic parrots.”