Helping animals in Nepal's remote mountain villages
By Scott Cantin
We’re in the Kavre district, a two-hour drive from Kathmandu. It is one of the worst affected areas identified by the Nepali government.
Toppled homes and animal shelters are everywhere. People and animals are living in makeshift shelters and what were once beautiful mountain villages are now grim sites full of rubble.
The roads are dusty and scored with deep cracks from the earthquake. Getting to the villages is not easy. The roads wind up and around endless mountains and are blocked by landslides, fallen trees and the remains of houses.
The smell of the dead hangs in the air. People and animals lie buried where they fell as stone and brick shelters collapsed on top of them. I'm grateful for having a purpose to help the animals as it's overwhelming at times to see such suffering.
I mostly hear the sounds of stones being discarded and metal sheets pried loose from the piles of rocks that were once homes as people begin to rebuild their houses and animal shelters. I also hear the animals. Dogs barking, cows, buffaloes and goats communicating with each other and some whining in pain.
You can feel the heaviness everywhere and funeral processions are a regular site. Children’s faces have harder expressions than any child should know.
In Kankre village, Gokul Bajgain (40) tells me he lost three cows and six goats when the quake struck. I follow him to what was once his home and animal shelter. He explains that both collapsed in the earthquake, and is obviously stressed by the loss of his livelihood. His neighbour, Chirim Jibi (28) calls out that his goats need help.
Three days before, Chirim and his wife Bipana pulled out a two year old female and her month old male kid. There were two before, but his sister was killed when the shelter fell on them. The goats spent three days buried in the rubble before they could reach them.
As if his situation was not tragic enough, his mother has rejected the poor kid. In the disorientation and stress of being buried alive, she has lost her maternal instinct toward him. She also has cuts on her udders so they gingerly coax her to feed him.
We give Chirim and Bipana ointment to treat the mother’s wounds over several days and check the kid’s health too. We are relieved to see he is in good health and encourage them to continue helping him nurse in this critical time while he is totally dependent on his mother.
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