2011 was a busy year for our global Disaster Relief team (as for many of our readers, surely!) but it’s gratifying to look back at the impact we made: last year alone, WSPA Disaster Relief Teams across the globe helped more than 240,000 animals in 11 countries. We helped a variety of animals: cattle, buffalo, pigs, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses, poultry, as well as people’s pets, like rabbits, cats and dogs. The countries we worked in included Brazil, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Bolivia, Japan, Thailand, Argentina, India, Vietnam and Kenya, and regular readers of this blog will have followed the many kinds of disasters we have responded to last year.
This year has got off to a busy start as well (although thankfully, not with a disaster as large-scale as the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010) with our disaster team from Costa Rica responding to the flooding in Brazil, just as we did last year when floods and landslides hit three states in Brazil.
Since the beginning of January 2012, very heavy rains caused flooding and landslides in the Minas Gerais Brazilian State and an alert is active over the Rio do Janeiro State, specially in the area of Sierra do Organs, which was affected last year too.
In the state of Minas Gerais, the toll of human deaths attributed to the rains has now reached eight. Overflowing rivers and landslides have blocked various state and federal highways, making it difficult to send through supplies or assistance to the disaster hit areas.108 municipalities were affected by storms and floods during the last 15 days, of which 52 municipalities have declared themselves to be in an ‘Emergency state’, affecting 2.1 million people.
Dr. Juan Carlos Murillo and Dr. Sergio Vasquez, two of our most experienced disaster management vets, have been in Brazil since Sunday the 8th of January, to conduct a thorough assessment of the impact on animals in the flood-affected regions. Knowing that they are likely to encounter abandoned pets during their assessment, they are carrying large consignments of mixed dry food and first aid veterinary kits so that they can help any animals in need immediately.
As we receive reports back from our colleagues in the field, we will continue to post updates here and via our Twitter feed. Stay tuned, and Happy New Year!