Our third day in the cattle camps and we were there from early morning until sunset. The heat from the sun around midday was so strong, I was constantly thirsty and sought shade in or beside the makeshift cattle shelters.
Whirlwinds passed through the camps every hour or so, creating vivid tunnels of dust, garbage and dried up leaves. While not dangerous, they are unpleasant and afterwards you rub grit from your eyes and have to rinse out your mouth.
This was one day.
I met people who’ve been living there every day since December. It’s uncomfortably hot right now, but over the next few months, the temperatures will regularly climb into the blistering mid-40s Celsius or 120s Fahrenheit.
walked seven kilometres to find shelter in this camp
The shelters we saw were made from whatever farmers could find – jute sacks, plastic sheeting that was often cracked or fraying, even some discarded and rusting metal siding that might have once been a shed.
takes health data from one of the cattle living at the site of our ongoing intervention
The three camps we’re working are meant as models of the best shade and nutrition care for animals trying to survive a drought. By improving and maintaining the health and welfare of these 9000 animals, we hope to persuade the State Government to adopt this model in other camps in drought-ravaged Beed District.
of his animals while planning WSPA’s intervention
The surrounding countryside is scorched dry. Only the trees with the longest taproots remain green. Yet, even in the harshest conditions, there is hope. Today, amidst all the heat and dust, a female calf was born and became the newest resident of the camp.
“Rani” which means ‘queen’ was too young to stand but her owners Arjun and Reka were doting on her, rubbing her coat and making sure she had enough shade. Her mother was nearby and kept a watchful eye on her as she recovered from labour.
I hope the rains come in June and that Rani, Gyaneshwar, Kisan and Manthan -- all the people and animals I’ve met over the last few weeks -- lives are made easier by the work we’re doing here in the meantime.
Photos of the shade netting and nutritional supplement delivery will be up soon!