In June this year, our Asia Pacific Disaster Response team, carried out an emergency assessment in the Changthang Region of northern India. As a result, we are now coordinating an intervention to benefit 50,000 animals in the region and up to 310,000 animals indirectly, in Leh District.
Intense and prolonged snowfall in January and March left communities and their animals stranded in the harsh geography of the region for weeks. As a result, livestock was lost in large numbers, mainly due to starvation, pneumonia and stress caused by overcrowding to preserve heat. Sheep and goats made up the biggest losses but also included were yaks, donkeys, horses and mules.
Following our assessment, we now know that unusually severe weather caused the death of 24,624 animals - 34% of the total livestock population of Changthang Region. What’s more, as a result of the tough winter, 90% of pregnant livestock lost unborn offspring. Not only is this a tragic loss of animal life but a catastrophe for the district’s nomadic people, the Changpa, who are almost completely reliant on livestock for food and livelihoods, including the trade of high quality pashmina wool.
Our operations in Leh District will take place from now (mid-July) until November 2013, increasing veterinary capacity to preventatively treat animals and to develop educational materials that improve regional awareness on crisis prevention. To achieve this, we will be working closely with local government partners and non-government organisations, such as Live to Love.
The traumatic winter conditions have taken its toll on livestock, especially sheep and goats, which are still struggling to regain their health. Working with the Leh Animal Sheep Husbandry Department, however, has already enabled injured and ill animals to receive necessary preventative treatments, such as vaccinations.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated, but remember to also follow our Disaster team, who provide regular updates of all our work on Twitter using the hashtag #animalsindisasters
Did you know?
- Pashmina Goats in the Changthang region of Northern India produce 10% of the world’s supply of pashmina wool!
- Leh District is the second largest district in India but also one of the most sparsley populated. The winter months of 2013 brought the worst snowfall and cold spell in the region for over 40 years.
- Snow storms are common in Leh District. What turned 2013’s into a crisis was that unusually cold weather didn’t allow snow to melt between storms.