Government, NGOs to the rescue of starving animals in Raigad

Updated: Apr 29, 2020, 07:34 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Many animals at tourist spots in the district were left without food or water owing to a halt in tourism activity; their owners get help too

Monkeys being fed at Matheran
Monkeys being fed at Matheran

With the tourism industry at a complete standstill across the country, a number of domestic animals associated with it have been severely impacted. In the Raigad district of Maharashtra, too, a number of these animals are a common sight, especially at the tourist spots like Matheran, Raigad fort and the beaches. Horses, donkeys, monkeys and stray dogs at all these places have been left without any food to eat. These places, usually frequented by hundreds of tourists every day, have seen barely any visitors over the last month and a half. The tourists would offer food to the animals who are now left to fend for themselves. Even the locals who have pets are finding it tough to manage without much income.

Given the grim situation, the district animal husbandry department along with a few do-gooders have now taken upon themselves to feed the animals and provide them ample drinking water.

Donkeys given dry grass at Raigad Fort
Donkeys given dry grass at Raigad Fort

Dr Shubash Mhaske, district deputy commissioner, Animal Husbandry department, informed mid-day that the district, known for its farmhouses, hill stations, forts and beaches, has around 1,200 horses and ponies, of which nearly 460 are reared at Matheran hill station and the rest at the beaches around the districts. With the forest cover in Raigad district, monkeys too are found in large numbers here. "These are often fed by commuters en route to their destinations but that has stopped for over a month now," Mhaske said.

Dr Mandar Patel, Livestock Development Officer, Roha, therefore, visited the ghat areas on Roha-Nagothane road a couple of days ago with his team to feed some monkeys. Similarly, a team even visited Matheran to arrange food and water for the monkeys there.

Animal lovers step up in Pen
Hundreds of stray dogs and 40 cows are also being fed daily by a few animal lovers in and around Pen in Raigad.

"Cimaa Punmiya has come up with an innovative concept of Animal Food bank, where any animal lover can donate food. Kumar Deshpande provides a liquid diet for the strays. The Animal Husbandry department has arranged for medicines," Dr Mhaske said.

Donkeys of Raigadwadi starving
Another animal hit by the lockdown is the donkey. Around 90 donkeys reside around RaigadWadi, foothills of Raigad Fort. Dr Dattatray Sonawale, veterinary assistant commissioner of Animal Husbandry, Mahad Taluka, informed mid-day that the restoration work of Raigad Fort is on for the past couple of years and nearly 250 donkeys were being used to take up repairing material.

"Most of the donkeys had come from nearby areas and only 90 are still at the spot. They are owned by six-seven families who are still staying at the foothills of the fort," said Sonawale. These people along with their donkeys have been having a tough time sustaining due to the lockdown as "the donkeys are not allowed to roam around in the fields making it difficult for them to manage fodder or dry grass," the doctor added.

Prabhakar Sawant, a Raigadwadi resident, said that most of the donkeys are hired by contractors of restoration work.

After the district collector's directives, Sonawale and his team approached a few NGOs requesting them to provide dry grass, rice bran, wheat bran and medicines required for treating some injured donkeys. "Accordingly, potable water of 1,000 liters has been provided at the spot," he said, adding that the effort will continue to provide feed and dry grass to the donkeys till they are "in our jurisdiction and ration kits will be given to their owners."

'Everyone will be taken care of'
Nidhi Choudhari, district collector, told mid-day that the collector's office was doing everything to reach out to migrant workers and underprivileged people by providing ration kits and organising community kitchens with help from NGOs and corporates. "Directions have also been given to the Animal husbandry department to ensure that animals and strays are taken care of. Many animal lovers too have volunteered to help," Choudhari said.

1,200
Approx no. of horses/ponies in Raigad district

460
No. of horses/ponies at Matheran

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