Cyclone Hudhud over India. October 12, 2014 credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
World Animal Protection was in Andhra Pradesh just a few weeks before Cyclone Hudhud wreaked havoc across the Indian state. We were working with villagers and government authorities conducting disaster response exercises and evacuation drills, helping them prepare their animals and themselves for the deadly impacts of storm surges and flooding.
A farmer and his sheep on the way to a World Animal Protection disaster drill. Andra Pradesh. September 25, 2014. ©World Animal Protection 2014/CH Ravi Kumar
Hudhud was one of the most destructive cyclones to hit in the Bay of Bengal region since Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and sadly over a hundred people died. Official estimates of animal deaths are in excess of 2,300, with over 2.3 million poultry also lost.
But the death toll could have been much higher.
Fortunately, due to advance disaster preparations and quick actions on the part of local authorities, to evacuate animals along with their owners, the loss of life was far lower than following other storms of this magnitude.
During the past six years, we’ve been working across the country, helping disaster prone communities so they know what actions to take to protect their animals and themselves when disasters strike.
If communities don’t prepare to evacuate their animals, people refuse to leave or end up taking extraordinary risks to tend to the livestock they are forced to leave behind.
Working with local response authorities, our staff ensured animal welfare and needs are considered in emergencies. Here, Dr. Sunil Singh Tomar demonstrates how to identify the severity of injuries or illness through color code to local health professionals. Andra Pradesh. September 25, 2014. ©World Animal Protection 2014/CH Ravi Kumar
Shri Santosh Kumar, the Deputy Commander of the local battalion of the National Disaster Response Force, said working with World Animal Protection is crucial to ensure the safety for animals and the people who depend on them.
"Conducting regular simulation exercises for managing animals during cyclones and flooding is very important. Based on our past experiences in this region during such events we find it very difficult to evacuate people because they don't want to leave without their animals. Having plans in place and designated evacuation areas means we can relocate them both,” he said.
The welfare of every animal is important to us, so in potentially stressful simulations, we use dummies. Skills are acquired but no animals are harmed. Here, evacuating small livestock in floods are practiced. Andra Pradesh. September 25, 2014. ©World Animal Protection 2014/CH Ravi Kumar
Your support is helping us carry out this critically important training which ultimately means less animals and people are dying during disasters such as Cyclone Hudhud.
Our manager of disaster response in India, Hasen Thambi Prem and a few of the animal participants at the conclusion of the drill. Andra Pradesh. September 25, 2014. ©World Animal Protection 2014/CH Ravi Kumar