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Beasts of burden – Animals suffer in monsoon too

A Four Paws team helps the animals after floods in several regions in Burma. (PHOTO: Vier-Pfoten)

This year’s monsoon is not just displacing people from their homes–but animals across many regions in Burma.

Two emergency animal rescue teams, Four Paws International and Mingalar Myanmar, say they have received an unwavering number of requests in the past four months for rescue assistance, emergency food provisions, and veterinary treatment.

Speaking to DVB on Tuesday, Four Paws International Director of Disaster Relief Jackson Zee said, “The situation is dire, with over 500,000 acres of agricultural land damaged and more than 470,000 people impacted directly by the floods.”

Zee, who has just returned from the field, said the most recent request for assistance was due to flooding in four of the 11 affected regions or divisions in Burma. Last week’s relief efforts were directed at mostly farm animals in the flooded regions, including Magwe, Pegu [Bago], Mandalay, and the Irrawaddy [Ayeyarwady] delta.

He said most of their requests have been from local authorities: “The floods at the time were due to overflowing rivers and a saturated delta region.”

Their mission lasted until 23 August for the emergency animal food provisioning.

“We were able to assist over 3,700 farmers, with over 10,000 cattle in eight townships and over 68 villages,” said Zee.

The animal feed was locally sourced and amounted to about 50 tonnes. The rainy season began at the same time Cyclone Roanu made landfall around May 19 and is still continuing; however Four Paws International say they are hopeful that the worst is behind them as forecasters predict clear weather conditions for September.

“The forecast looks clear as of today and the waters are beginning to recede,” said Zee, noting that they are still preparing for any changes, adding that “the rainy season lasts until early October with occasional cyclones that barrel through the region.”

Zee said the support for animals is ongoing with some creatures needing medical treatment: “Myanmar [Burma] is in great need of assistance [for] animals during this flood. Humanitarian aid already exists, but little is done for the animals.”

He added: “One of the main challenges is to get the food where it is actually needed – especially to remote areas with little infrastructure, which are desperately in need of help. Many people there are very much dependent on their animals as part of their livelihoods.”

The Four Paws team in the recent rescue consisted of veterinarians and logistics personnel, as well as local supporters.