Protecting animals on the worst hit islands after Cyclone Pam
Our team has treated livestock, cats and dogs on Epi Island – one of the worst hit islands by Tropical Cyclone Pam and has also completed its initial assessment of animal needs in Vanuatu.
Just over a week ago our disaster response team deployed to Vanuatu to provide emergency care for animals left injured, hungry and vulnerable after Cyclone Pam devastated the island nation. We have treated animals requiring urgent attention and conducted an assessment of the needs of animals impacted by what is being described as the worst disaster to ever hit Vanuatu.
Desperate conditions on Epi Island
For the last three days, the team has been on Epi Island, one of the Shepherd Islands. Epi Island has a high animal population and is listed among the sites most critically in need by the Vanuatu Government after the cyclone.
The Category 5 storm completely destroyed villages across Epi island, leaving very little or no shelter for both the communities and their animals. Livestock and pets are suffering from severe heat exhaustion as worms and pneumonia also begin to take hold.
With debris from the storm blocking waterways, fresh water is scarce and many local water sources have become contaminated. Animals already in poor health have been the worst hit and are struggling to survive.
David Sam, church leader in Lokopui village on Epi Island told our team that Cyclone Pam was the worst they had ever suffered. With all shelter in the village being destroyed, the village’s animals had to be let free to try and survive the night on their own.
David’s 80-year-old mother, Nadi, spoke of the extreme conditions they now face, “Our lives are destroyed. How do we get our food or our lives back?” The crops that both the people and animals on Epi Island rely on have been wiped out.
Delivering feed and veterinary treatment
The most pressing issue facing animals in Vanuatu remains the ever diminishing food supply across the islands. Animals are surviving off the last of the leaves that remain alive from downed trees and the few remaining naturally occurring sources of food such as coconuts.
Our focus is therefore to secure feed for the coming months and ensure that we save as many animals as possible in Vanuatu. In addition to feed deliveries, we will be providing support to the government veterinarians who will provide long term treatment for animals impacted by the cyclone.
The communities of Vanuatu love and rely on their animals. Protecting them will not only give communities a boost in these desperate times, it will give them their best chance of a quick recovery from the destruction left by Cyclone Pam.
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