Mumbai : Floods are devastating not just for humans but also for animals— both wild and domesticated ones. Even as thousands of dogs, cats, cow, buffaloes were washed away in the Kerala deluge, reptiles like snakes and lizards made inroads into domestic terrain.
After floodwaters retreated, many returned to clean their homes, only to receive a slithery welcome. Abhishek Narayanan, Head, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) said, “People here are aware there will be snakes in their homes. They are used to snakes. So, people are not scared but are apprehensive as they do not know how to handle them.” In all, WTI has rescued around 40 snakes, venomous and non-venomous, in the past three days and released them into the forests. The WTI and the Organization for Wildlife Studies, Maharashtra, (OWLs) are working together to rescue snakes.
Such high animal casualties during the flood occurred because they were tied up, stated Sally Varma, community engagement manager, Humane Society International (India) (HSI/India). Varma and her team, who were the first animal rescuers to reach the spot, said, “During the days when flood water was sweeping the state, there were some people who tried to take their animals along with them. But relief camps did not permit animals, which is when they left their animals on the upper floors of their homes, before leaving for the camps.”
HSI/India team was able to rescue 19 dogs, two cats, 20 goats and eight cows and get them to animal shelters. They also rescued 100 animals by shifting them to safer locations. “We were unable to take all the animals we rescued to shelters,” they regretted. A team of six HSI/India experts have been operating in Nilambur and Tirur. Now, the team plans to go to Alappuzha, after receiving calls about stranded animals.
Rescue teams have also taken on the responsibility to create awareness on dealing with carcasses. While Narayanan and his team educate local administration on ways to handle these, Varma is going door-to-door to create awareness.