I help a wonderful group
rescue cats in Sequim, WA. When I saw CNN footage of a sickly abandoned cat, my heart sank. (Right, Yahoo/AFP
: "A cat walks among the debris in search of food on the worst hit Thai island of Phi Phi.")
Also on CNN, while Anderson Cooper was reporting, dogs (canines) were hanging around him. He petted them, talked about their plight, but didn't mention giving them food.
So I searched for groups that are on site in the tsunami areas, and are actively helping orphaned pets, farm animals, and wildlife.
This diary is devoted to what I discovered about:
- the plight of many animals
- the plight of endangered wildlife
- groups that are helping, and how you can help too
Don't miss the story of the baby hippo below. And, at the end, there's a rebuke for the fundamentalists:
Of note, before we go on, a word about our fantasies about animals:
We were charmed by countless press reports that animals, with their acute senses, sensed the tsunami and mostly survived. But:
In India, the Blue Cross told the Humane Society that thousands of dead animals lined beaches after the tsunami struck. It also said that all the animals at the Point Calimere wildlife sanctuary, including 1,800 black buck, were probably dead. Yahoo
THE ANIMALS' PLIGHT:
The tsunami has left millions of animals -- both companion animals and farm animals -- without food, water, shelter, or companionship.
"I had to hold back the tears at the sight of a dog standing on the foundation of a demolished house. He looked out from the rubble to the river as if anticipating the arrival of his owner who would never return". HSIAsia
And many animals are now regarded as dangerous because of disease or aggression:
Photo right: "A dead dog is pulled away as a government worker waits with lethal injection to kill stray dogs near the government hospital in Nagapattinam, India, Wednesday Jan. 5, 2005. Civic workers have been ordered to kill packs of stray dogs that have started attacking tsunami survivors as their behavior changed after eating human and animal flesh from rotting carcasses ..." (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan, AP - Jan 06, 2005)
The remarkable team from Humane Society International (the international arm of HSUS -- Humane Society of the United States), has a handle on the interconnectedness of humans to animals:
The tsunami that pounded South Asia last week has created a second tier of victims: animals.
Dogs are homeless in Thailand. Cows, water buffalo and goats have died in Sri Lanka. A number of farm animals are roaming destroyed grazing land and drinking polluted water since their owners have died, said Sherry Grant [SEE HER PHOTO ABOVE RIGHT], Asia director for Humane Society International. [See below for contact info.]
Humans and animals have a "dynamic connection," Grant said during a three-country tour of Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
"The animals and their well-being ... connect to the humans because they are the providers" and can generate economic recovery, she said. Subsistence farmers "need those cattle, they need those oxen to pull their plows, to work those fields."
Dogs are roaming what appear to be their hometowns in Thailand ... Wiek said volunteers have supplied 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds) of dog food.
"One of the concerns we have ... is (that) while a farmer is trying to get himself back on his feet economically, he may not be able to feed those cows," Grant said. "And those cows are his livelihood."
[T]he Humane Society will likely provide financial aid, equipment, create dog feeding programs and clean watering holes.
Grant also noted that dogs were important companions for humans, but devastated families were now having to decide if they can feed one more mouth.
Dog owners in Phuket began dropping their pets off at a new shelter, which Grant said the government now can no longer afford to operate.
Dogs "fill the void of loneliness, and, my God, is there going to be some big voids in these families," she said.
"Animals across South Asia in danger after tsunami muddies water, kills owners, Jan 4, 2005
Sri Lankan Turtles Even Rarer in Wake of Tsunami, Jan 7, 2005:
BENTOTA, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Sri Lankan conservationist Kithsiri Kannangara wipes a tear as he stands over a patch of sand and broken wire mesh, the only surviving incubation pit of his hatchery for endangered sea turtles.
Twelve days after giant tsunami waves destroyed the hatchery, washing away 20,000 eggs, seven rare green turtles [GREEN TURTLE IN PHOTO ABOVE RIGHT] and $500,000 worth of research equipment, Kannangara is still trying to come to terms with the loss. ...
"The beaches are all gone, they won't be able to nest here," said Harry Andrews, director of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Environmental Team.
See also: CNN's report on the turtles' plight, "Saving Sri Lanka's sea turtles and The Sunday Observer story, "Preventing a 'turtle' disaster."
A BABY hippopotamus, swept into the Indian Ocean [OFF KENYA] by the tsunami, is finally coming out of his shell thanks to the love of a 120-year-old tortoise.
Owen, a 300kg, one-year-old hippo, was swept down the Sabaki River, into the ocean and then back to shore when the giant waves struck the Kenyan coast.
The dehydrated hippo was found by wildlife rangers and taken to the Haller Park animal facility in the port city of Mombasa.
Pining for his lost mother, Owen quickly befriended a giant male Aldabran tortoise named Mzee - Swahili for "old man".
Haller Park ecologist Paula Kahumbu said the pair were now inseparable.
"It is incredible. A hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a mother... The hippo follows the tortoise the way it follows its mother.
"The hippo was left at a very tender age. Hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years."
Officials are hopeful Owen will befriend a female hippo called Cleo, also a resident at the park. Daily Telegraph, Jan. 8, 2005
THE HELPING GROUPS -- THEY NEED YOUR SUPPORT:
Note: See photo right, below, of a dog being vaccinated -- thanks to HSIAsia -- at a refugee camp, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
Donate to HSUS's Diaster Fund - Asian Tsunami
In the wake of the massive tsunami ... Humane Society International (HSI), the international arm of The HSUS, is receiving many reports from local humane organizations in the areas... assessing the animal situations in Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, and Indonesia and plans to work with our many international partners ... to deliver relief to animal victims and their caretakers.
... Currently, food, water, and shelter for displaced animals appear to be the most urgent needs. HSI is receiving monetary donations to support our local partners to provide appropriate assistance. Your tax-deductible gift will be used to support this disaster and other animal disasters worldwide.
You saw HSI Asia DIrector Sherry Grant's photo above. Here are links to her fascinating Web logs on conditions after the tsunami: Web Log Day 1 (including her amazing, politicaly complicated story about rescuing a dolphin) and Web Log Day 2
A group of volunteers from South Africa's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) is on the ground:
... volunteers in Asia have had to cut loose tethered goats and cattle, rescue cats, dogs and even snakes, and feed surviving dogs on city beaches.
Displaced animals needed to be fed, treated and placed in safe areas (impounded if necessary) to prevent scavengers being victimised or inhumanely treated for scavenging. Injuries needed to be treated and animals beyond saving put out of their misery in a humane way.
Donkeys and horses should be found and treated not only for their own sake but as part of the rescue mission, as they could go where vehicles could not, the NSPCA advised. ... IAfrica.com
Help sea turtles:
Indian Ocean Tsunami Sea Turtle Fund
The fund "will be used to help rebuild damaged and destroyed infrastructure related to sea turtle research and conservation in the region. ... An advisory panel of sea turtlers from the region is being established to determine how funds should be disbursed." [PHOTO RIGHT: A Hawksbill sea turtle]
There have been widely reported stories about the heroism and help of the marvelous working Thai elephants -- one of whom saved children during the tsunami, and another group of elephants that trumpeted warnings just before the tsunami. What's left out: The Asian elephants are trained with vicious beatings. And they're chained up on short chains.
From a remarkably rich and compassionate essay by a writer in The Philippines:
When Tilly Smith, a 10-year-old British girl, told her mother with her distinctive British accent, "There's going to be a tsunami, Mummy," she predicted something significant. Tilly made a practical application of what a geography teacher taught her about earthquakes and what they can do and how they can cause tsunamis.
This is a perfect example of the importance of a solid grounding in science education. Now you can see what education is all about - preparing children to have a positive impact on the lives of people they encounter. In Tilly's case, she saved hundreds of lives at Maikhao Beach in Phuket, one of the few places where no one was killed.
In China, it is folk knowledge that pigs and ducks are the first to sense earthquakes. A young Hong Kong couple, billeted in one of the Thai resorts, woke up noticing an unusual number of cockroaches crawling in their room.
The wife told her husband that she sensed something would go wrong. So they immediately left the room and warned other guests on their way to higher ground. ...
"Tsunami tales," BABE'S EYE VIEW, By Babe Romualdez, The Philippine Star, 01/09/2005 [Do read it all.]
So I ask: Isn't it better that little Tilly learned the science of earthquakes and tsunamis, and used her knowledge to save many lives -- and that that young couple paid attention to, and acted upon, empirical evidence (the cockroaches) -- rather than being told that this was "God's will"?
And it's obvious we need nature more than it needs us. Let's all help.