By Sharon St. Joan ,
5,000 mules, horses, and donkeys who transport pilgrims up and down the steep, rocky slopes, are now stranded on the far side of the Alaknanda River, one of the headstreams of the Ganges. Most are mules, and, as well as needing feed and clean drinking water, some are injured, and in urgent need of veterinary treatment.
Pilgrimage road is slippery and dangerous. Mules are the main mode of transport. Over 700 are used and education for their care and medical support are urgently needed. A joint project of Help Animals India/PFA Dehra Doon/AAGAS Federtaion
Monsoon rains in Uttarakhand have been heavier than at any time in the past 60 years, and floods have killed over 500 people. 5,000 are still missing, and the death toll is expected to rise. Buildings have been toppled and swept away, as well as entire villages and settlements.
The flooding has also devastated parts of Nepal and the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, as wells as Delhi. These areas are in the far north of India, near the foothills of the Himalayas—a spectacularly beautiful area of forests and snow-covered mountains, where there are major Hindu sacred sites and temples. Many thousands of visiting pilgrims have been caught in the floods, which have swept away bridges and roads.
Sadly, a great many animals have also died or been hurt in the rushing water. 5,000 mules, horses, and donkeys who transport pilgrims up and down the steep, rocky slopes, are now stranded on the far side of the Alaknanda River, one of the headstreams of the Ganges. Most are mules, and, as well as needing feed and clean drinking water, some are injured, and in urgent need of veterinary treatment.
Another 100-200 mules on this side of the river will soon be taken to the small town Josimath.
Help Animals India is working with their two partner organizations to bring help to both people and animals stranded by the floods.
Help Animals India’s partners, PFA Dehra Doon and AAGAAS Federation, have reported that a temporary bridge has been constructed and that authorities are now evacuating all the stranded pilgrims across the river. As soon as this has been completed, if all goes well, PFA Dehra Doon and AAGAAS Foundation will be able to start transporting the injured mules to safety, and giving them urgently-needed veterinary care, medicine, feed and water.
Help Animals India, for the past several years, has worked with many Indian animal welfare groups, benefiting thousands of animals.
Eileen Weintraub, Founder and Director of Help Animals India writes, “We are doing our best to help the “Himalayan Tsunami” with many hundreds of people dead and thousands still stranded. We are buying medical supplies as well as ropes, tents, sleeping bags, rucksacks and tarpaulin to go in and access the situation to rescue and treat as many as possible of the hundreds of abandoned equines – horses/donkeys/mules. We will have to get through this next round of rain and the full moon, and this coming week will start the relief efforts for the survivors …On the ground are our trusted partners PFA Dehra Doon and AAGAAS Federation and volunteers coming up from Mumbai… Every penny will go towards the relief effort. Thank you for your compassion during these difficult times.”
Donations to Help Animals India are U.S. tax-deductible.