Scars of the earthquakes
By Scott Cantin
For his third blog from Nepal, our guest blogger and volunteer vet Uday Singh Karki describes the continuing struggle for animals and communities in Nepal after the earthquakes.
If I have to describe Nepal in one word right now, it’s ‘chaos’. Aftershocks continue to terrify us and people in Kathmandu rush from building to building to protect themselves.
The earthquakes are still the main topic of conversation as we try and come to terms with the devastation. You can feel the fear of a third major earthquake hitting and causing yet more destruction.
Peace and reflection
To escape these thoughts momentarily I made my way to Swayambhunath, a religious complex that sits on top of a hill in the Kathmandu Valley. Many call it ‘Monkey Temple’ and everywhere I looked I could see monkeys and dogs roaming around.
At first I thought it was lovely to see them enjoying the freedom of the temple. The truth is they were aimlessly wandering around and desperately looking for food.
The recent earthquakes caused substantial damage to the cultural heritage of Kathmandu valley, which is home to hundreds of monkeys and dogs. But it’s not just shelter that many animals are now without, food is also in short supply.
Desperate times and desperate measures
Before the disaster thousands of people visited these sites and gave food to the animals. Now the heritage sites are closed, these street animals are left in the rubble and stones to survive alone.
I spoke with a local man, Pemba Lama, who reflected on the changing behavior of local monkeys, “Since the monkeys don’t get enough food in this area they have started to encroach into residential areas and are breaking into houses to steal food”.
But the hunt for food isn’t so easy when monkeys have to cross electric wires - the stakes are high. I saw one female monkey of about five-years-old who was electrocuted on her quest to find food in the city. She was covered in cuts and bruises, badly burnt and paralyzed from the waist down. All because she was desperate to find food to survive.
The scars run deep
The impact on livestock is equally high. Those cattle and buffalo who survived the disaster are now at serious risk of malnutrition. It breaks my heart to know that many pregnant animals won’t be able to deliver healthy calves as they can barely feed themselves.
So, I appeal to everyone to help the animals of Nepal. They cannot tell us they are suffering but they bear the scars, and the scars of this earthquake will be visible for many years to come.
Blog written by Uday Singh Karki, one of our volunteer vets on the ground in Nepal.
Nepal earthquake appeal
In the wake of the tragic second earthquake in Nepal, we are continuing to raise funds to save animals and protect the livelihoods of local communities in the country. Please donate today to help us protect animals.