Help Abhinav Save Cows Being Starved in Bundelkhand, India | Milaap
Help Abhinav Save Cows Being Starved in Bundelkhand, India
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    Abhinav Srihan

    from Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh

March 2017 - Mahoba, U.P.

Hello my name is Abhinav Srihan and I am an animal rescue volunteer in India. I want to give you a glimpse of a silent saga of suffering and death that has been unfolding in the very heart of India. With each passing year, drought has been intensifying in the Bundelkhand region. In the scorching summers the temperatures go up to 48°C and all the ponds and wells in the villages run dry. Villagers no longer have feed or water for the cattle.  As per an old tradition called Anna Pratha, all the cattle are rounded up and incarcerated in enclosures to prevent them from grazing on the remaining grass and crops. They are supposed to be provided with dry fodder and water, until the rains come. But with each passing year, both have become increasingly scarce. Day after day, the cows sit in their deserted enclosures with the sun beating down hard on them, waiting for someone to bring respite. But neither god nor man has mercy for these forsaken, forgotten ones. Only death brings respite. But even death doesn’t come so easy. Those who have seen a cow starve to death would know – first they become immobile and sit for days, then they collapse and lie panting for days, their bellies bloat up, their vital organs slowly bleed and rupture from the pressure of the gas, finally they have seizures that can last up to hours and then death comes. Some respite!

Last year 3000 cattle died in Bundelkhand (as per official estimates). This year, 500 have already fallen and the summer has only begun. I have been going from enclosure to enclosure in the worst-hit Mahoba district, reporting live on my Facebook Page. Most of incarcerated cows will die waiting, if help doesn’t arrive.

I, with a group of volunteers, and hired daily wagers, have been providing food and water in some of the enclosures (see video here and here). We are also lobbying with the local administration to set the animals free so that they can at least fend for themselves for a few more months. A tiny victory came, when we were recently able to free the cattle in Chichara village in Mahoba. But thousands still remain locked up, waiting silently for help. You can make this wait end!

We urgently need funds to bring feed and water to the cows. As little as $10, can feed one cow for a month. Please donate generously and help us bring respite to the waiting cows.

I have asked Anusha Narain and Divya Narain to help me with this campaign you may contact any of us with any questions you may have.

Update – 8th Jan 2018

Dear Supporters and Friends,

We have unfortunate news from Bundelkhand - not only are villagers going ahead with the gruesome practice of Anna Pratha again this year but they have also started it much earlier. We are still months away from summer but the dry season has begun and villagers in the area are already rounding up old and abandoned cows and imprisoning them in enclosures of death - where the cows can only wait, first for food and water, and then for death. Last year, even though most of you were miles away (and some of you even continents away), you heard the silent cries of these helpless animals, when no one else did. You contributed generously, brought respite and saved lives.

This year again, Abhinav and his team are on ground zero in the worst-hit Mahoba, monitoring the situation. Abhinav has posted videos and pictures (see here and here) of how cows have already started falling, with dogs gnawing on their emaciated carcasses. They have also posted a video showing how the villagers are unwilling to let the cows roam free.

We fear that the suffering will be worse this year; its scale larger and duration longer. But we are committed to do whatever we can, to provide immediate relief and minimize the suffering and the number of fatalities. This year we hope to start early and move ahead in a more planned fashion. We hope to put in place a more permanent solution - a holding unit for the very sick and weak cattle (where they can be brought for medical and hospice care) and a storehouse for fodder. For this we would need to hire more staff and more trucks to transport both fodder and water. We also realize that we can only provide immediate relief - the long-term solution to the problem of water scarcity has to come from the administration. But those who have worked with governments will know that improving governance is a long-term process requiring years of advocacy with the administration, which Abhinav will continue to do this year. Like last year, we will continue to work with the administration to put pressure on the villagers for releasing the animals.

We had shared with you media reports and pictures showing how your support and our efforts together saved hundreds of animals last year. Again this year, with your support, we hope to build on our success of last year and find lasting solutions. We have the following fund requirements for our efforts this year (until the monsoon arrives)

EffortFund Requirement
Leasing land for shelter for weak and sick cowsRs. 10,00,000
Building of shelterRs. 5,00,000
Fodder for cowsRs. 3,00,000
Transport for water and fodder trucksRs. 2,00,000
Transport of sick and weak cattleRs. 1,00,000
Daily wages for field staffRs. 4,00,000
We urge donors, old and new, to contribute generously and support our efforts of saving the starving cows of Mahoba. Your generosity exceeded our expectations last year and that is what gives us confidence to forge ahead with renewed goals this year. We have an incurable faith in human compassion. We thus come to you with bigger goals and even bigger faith in your generosity.

Abhinav, Anusha and Divya

Update - 27th Jan 2018; Rath, U.P.

Abhinav is reporting live from Bundelkhand. A new unfortunate situation has cropped up in the ongoing saga of suffering. In Rath town, where on 25th Dec, a local gaushala (a shelter for male, old and spent cattle) sent out a message, asking farmers from nearby villages to bring in their unwanted cattle. The message went viral and overnight more than ten thousand cows were brought at the shelter by farmers who continue to battle with lack of fodder and water in the drought-ravaged Bundelkhand. Hundreds of farmers had to be returned with their cattle (a few of them dumped them on the way back and never took them home - Abhinav spotted several carcasses on the way). About four thousand cattle still remain at the center (a makeshift arrangement has been made at a school playground to house the cattle).

Although some arrangements have been made for feed and water, they are no where close to what is needed for the sheer numbers. The managers of the shelter are at a loss - they were not expecting farmers to swarm in such huge numbers to get rid of their responsibility. The local administration has provided measly relief.

In the video, you can see Abhinav showing you the immense numbers. A stampede-like situation gets created when the meager feed is doled out. Not everyone gets enough food but the saddest part is that the little ones get crushed in the stampede. You can see Abhinav and his team struggling with their limited resources, trying to retrieve the downed cows and calves as they run the risk of getting trampled over. Everyday several cows are falling due to lack of food and water.

The situation is getting worse by the day, and is going to get catastrophic when summer arrives. Although Abhinav is lobbying with the local administration to make adequate arrangements for fodder and water, we need your support to help feed the cows until then.  As little as $10 (Rs 660), can feed one cow for a month. Please donate generously and share widely.

Abhinav, Anusha and Divya

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