Disasters driven by global warming hit animals from India to Alaska

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2005:

DELHI, AHMEDABAD–Six months to the day
after the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated the
Indian east coast, monsoon flash floods on July
26, 2005 roared through Mumbai, western
Maharashtra state, and parts of Karnataka state.
Surging water, mud slides, broken power
lines, and collapsing houses killed more than
1,000 people and countless animals in Mumbai and
surrounding villages.
As after of the December 26, 2004
tsunami and the January 2001 Gujarat earthquake,
Wildlife SOS of Delhi and the Animal Help
Foundation of Ahmedabad were among the first
responders. They worked their way toward Mumbai
while People for Animals/ Mumbai pushed out to
meet them.
“We distributed fodder to poor villagers
to feed their cattle, wherever required, and
fed biscuits to all the stray dogs we found. We
also distributed free medicine to needy farmers,”
PFA/Mumbai managing trustee Dharmesh Solanki

“No government persons have gone to the
villages to inquire about them or their animals,”
Solanki added on August 9, two weeks after the
crisis began, confirming earlier reports from
Wildlife SOS cofounder Kartick Satyanarayan.
“Satara and Raigad districts, eight
hours from Mumbai, were badly inundated, with
government help negligible,” Satya-narayan said.
“The tragedy was partly an act of God’ but
mainly of human making. We are working in a
93-kilometre stretch of suffering villages. Two
days notice was given to these remote rural areas
before the Koyna Dam was opened. In an already
flooded area, where was anyone to find high
ground not already occupied?
“We teamed up with a local Animal
Protection Club based near Karad,” Satyanarayn
continued, “all self-funded, big-hearted guys
at first suspicious of our intentions but later
more at ease, in a Tower of Babel, with
Assamese and Tamil-speaking vets, Marathi and
Gujarati-speaking volunteers, and we speak
English and Hindi.”
The Wildlife SOS and Animal Protection
Club mostly fed and vaccinated cattle and dogs,
and did impromptu humane education. “We are
striving to get the people not to kick the
surviving dogs,” Satyanarayan explained, “and
trying to prevent a rabies fright. Every scared
dog is being declared rabid. Even the members of
the Animal Protection Club are not really clear
about rabies.
“It is a pity that the situation is being
reported as ‘Mumbai’ floods,” Satyanarayan
finished, “whereas in reality the surrounding
areas were worse affected.”
Government veterinarians were mobilized,
but had all the work they could handle in some of
the larger towns. Animal Help founder Rahul
Sehgal told ANIMAL PEOPLE that his relief team
distributed medical supplies to government vets
who had more than 75,000 animals in care.
As after the tsunami, ANIMAL PEOPLE
helped to fund the Wildlife SOS response. The
World Society for the Protection of Animals
funded the Animal Help Foundation effort. WSPA
also funded the Bombay SPCA to do animal relief
work within Mumbai, where more than 15,000 sheep
and goats and 1,500 water buffalo drowned in
stockyards but dogs and cats reportedly fared
surprising well.
Confirmed Blue Cross of India chair
Chinny Krishna in an August 12 e-mail to ANIMAL
PEOPLE, “Bombay SPCA executive committee member
Bakul Khatau told me she has no doubt that many
kittens and puppies must have perished. However,
she told me that in the area where she looks
after many street dogs, there were no
casualties, and that all the dogs and cats she
was caring for seemed to have survived.
“A friend of hers who lives in Kalina
Colony, a residential area which was flooded
very badly, with water entering second floor
flats, told Bakul that all the adult cats and
dogs she took care of took refuge in the upper
floors of the buildings and seemed to have
“When I expressed some surprise at this,
she said, ‘People won’t let the animals drown by
not letting them in, will they?’ Hats off to
the compassionate people of Mumbai!”
An August 26 International Fund for
Animal Welfare press release claimed that IFAW
had assisted after the flooding in Mumbai, other
parts of Maharashtra state, and Gujarat, but
illustrated the material with a photo showing a
rhino being bottle-fed following flooding in
Assam state, more than 1,000 miles away, in
2004. Other sources supported the IFAW claims
only in that the Wildlife Trust of India’s
Wildlife Rehabilitators Exchange Network web site
acknowledged receiving some IFAW funding and
described rescuing “one olive ridley turtle and a
hawksbill turtle” near Surat.
Anticipating an ongoing need to do
disaster response, Animal Help founder Rahul
Sehgal amid the chaos incorporated a subsidiary
called Animal Help in Emergency & Disaster.
AHEAD appears to be the first organization in
India created specifically to do animal disaster

Floods continue in Romania

Flooding continued in Romania,
meanwhile, for the sixth consecutive month.
Amid disrupted communications, CNN reported on
August 25, 2005 that “between 13 and 31 people
have died in the past two days,” but further
coverage was pre-empted by deadly flashfloods in
Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, and Austria.
Outside the spotlight, Romanian animal
rescue organizations struggled on. “As yet,
fortunately, there has not been more flooding in
Timis county,” e-mailed Adriana Tudor of Ecovet
Timisoara, “but our work in the areas flooded in
May and June is far from over.”
The villages of Ionel and Otelec remained
in standing water, Tudor wrote. “Surviving
animals are still in temporary shelters,” Tudor
added, and feeding them was still difficult.
“Every week it is another region
devastated,” added Fundatia Daisy Hope founder
Aura Maratas. While flooding had not hit
Bucharest, Maratas noted that with news media
mostly preoccupied by high water, conditions at
the hellish Bucharest dog pound at Chiana appear
to be worse than ever. Save The Dogs founder
Sara Turetta videotaped a June 29 visit to Chiana
that shocked viewers abroad but drew little
response locally.
Anthrax outbreaks associated with high
water near the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve
prompted reports that the Romanian government
might massacre as many as 7,500 horses and cattle
said to be roaming the region as result of broken
fences. “Almost half the domestic animals in the
area live in the wild. They are not registered,
nor vaccinated, nor do they receive any
veterinary treatment,” Food & Veterinary Safety
Authority spokesperson Alina Monea told news

Effects foreseen

Scientists studying global warming have
warned for more than 25 years that the warning
signs would include increasingly severe storms,
like the unusually harsh 2005 Indian monsoons,
and Hurricane Katrina, which hit coastal
Louisiana and Mississippi and caused evacuation
of New Orleans as the September 2005 edition of
ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press.
Also forecast was a loss of snow cover
from mountain ranges, including the Carpathians
and the Alps–and this contributed to the flood
damage in Europe.
With evidence mounting that the
predictions were correct, U.S. District Judge
Jeffrey White, of San Francisco, on August 26,
2005 authorized Greenpeace, Friends of the
Earth, the California cities of Oakland, Santa
Monica, and Arcata, and Boulder, Colorado, to
sue the federally controlled Overseas Private
Investment Corporation and Export/Import Bank of
the U.S. for funding projects that contribute to
global warming.
Greenpeace, the Center for Biolog-ical
Diversity, and the Natural Resources Defense
Council in February 2005 asked the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service to list polar bears as a
threatened species, due to loss of habitat
caused by global warming.
Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and
Hillary Clinton (D-New York), both rumored
presidential contenders, agreed at an August 18
press conference in Anchorage, Alaska, that the
George W. Bush administration has erred in
delaying a firm response to global warming.
McCain and Clinton had just viewed melting
permafrost and receding glaciers in northern
Alaska and the Yukon.
“How much damage will be done before we
start taking action?” asked McCain.
Added Clinton, “The science is overwhelming.”
Warned Royal Society for the Protection
of Birds conservation director Mark Avery earlier
on August 18, in London, “Migratory birds’
future is linked to concerted global actions to
tackle climate change.”
Avery and colleagues wrote in The State
of U.K. Birds 2004 that the British population of
wintering ducks, geese, swans and wading birds
had dropped to its lowest level in 10 years, and
that seven out of the nine most common wading
bird species had moved from the ever-warmer west
coast to the colder east coast, after several
abnormally mild winters.

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