By Tauseef Ahmed aka Mr Rescuer
Call it a pandemic or wrath of mother nature, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to haunt each one of us without discrimination. While most of us are trying to survive the virus, there are a few who are trying to survive hunger. They are none other than the helpless animals on the streets.
Dogs, cats, cows or birds, most of these animals directly dependant on us for sustenance, be it by accepting food from kind strangers or scavenging for leftovers thrown by humans. And just like the food cycle in nature, this has also become a vital cycle. The moment one link comes undone, the entire chain falls apart.
While the entire country shuts down, the future of everyone is bleak. With many uncertainties, permutations and combinations going around, the chances are that by staying inside our closed doors, we may survive; the ones we have left outside, on the other hand, will not make it without our help.
There are many people who, out of the goodness of their hearts, have been working to take care of stray animals by feeding them, rescuing them, caring for the injured and sheltering those who have no place to call home.
As an animal rescuer for the past decade, I have personally seen worst case scenarios, including working on the ground during the Coorg landslides in a team of relief workers for animals. With sheer will, we had managed to reach out to the most remote of places to save stranded animals, where even the NDRF team couldn't reach. But the challenge is bigger this time. Now, we are facing the inevitable- death itself. Over the past three days, despite all hindrances, I have been continuing my rescues with 20 plus cases. Accident cases, sick animals, animals stranded on terraces, snakes caught in nets; the cases continue to pour in and I haven't said "no" to any of them.
However, in these times, owing to the lockdown, the biggest problem to face these furry/furless creatures is hunger.
At times like this, working for animals becomes harder as there are very few of us who engage in this task on a daily basis. Moreover, during a complete shutdown, it is impossible for animal welfare volunteers to go very far.
So, this is the time for the general public to step up to the task, feed whatever they can manage to the animals around their homes, leave a bowl of water etc. Rice, chapatis, biscuits, bread... anything will suffice in these bad times. There are lactating mothers around as this is the breeding season, they need enough food to generate milk for the little ones, there are older animals who cannot fight with the younger ones for food as well. If we continue to ignore them, there might be fights, cannibalism and dead bodies all over the streets, which might lead to some other diseases, something that we cannot afford at this time.
Let's show some mercy for those who can neither go buy food, nor can ask for it. Hunger has the same consequences in all species; a couple of morsels of food kept aside just for 21 days will save thousands of lives.
As I grow older, the one thing I have realised quite early on is that we have two hands for a reason. One is to help ourselves at such times, and the other is to help our fellow beings.
Some of the ways in which the general public can help are:
- Feed animals around your households.
- Place bowls filled with water in your localities.
- If you know any old animals and/or lactating mothers around your homes, try and reach out to them. They need help the most.
- Please wear masks, carry sanitizers, maintain distance as much as possible.
- If possible, create WhatsApp groups comprising people of your locality. Coordinate with each other so that there is no overlapping of areas covered and all animals get food.
- A few people, who have left for their home towns in a panic, have abandoned their pets. They may be chained, running around scared etc. Please reach out to them with a little food and water. If you hear any dogs/cats/birds cry for help from inside locked houses and pet shops, please reach out to the nearest police station and animal activists.
Nature has always tested us and this is one such test. This is not a race to ace but it's a marathon, where we should try to make sure that we all cross the finish line together... smiling. Let's try not to leave anyone, human or animal, behind in these tough times.
About the author:
Tauseef Ahmed, popularly known as Mr Rescuer, is an animal activist who has dedicated his life to saving and caring for animals in and around Mangaluru.
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