Speaking On Behalf Of China's Animals
IFAW's Asia Regional Director Grace Gabriel continues to share with us her perspective of the situation in China:
“I have been frantically trying to figure out how to get toward the epicenter of the earthquake to assess the situation with animals….A Red Cross team has promised to take me with them today (Wednesday).” - Kati, the vet that works at the Panda Breeding Center text messaged me these words, knowing that I want to get first hand information to prepare IFAW for responding to this disaster.
The extent of the devastation exceeded anybody’s wildest imaginations. On the front page of China’s English newspaper, a full page picture showed the miraculous rescue of a baby girl from the rubbles. Behind her rescuer are dead bodies, paper white faces with life drained out of them in that fateful moment.
By now, there have been more than 300 smaller aftershocks in the region. The torrential rain has been unrelenting, causing mud slides. Huge boulders are coming down the mountains, blocking the already treacherous roads and making any rescue attempt difficult. Wolong Nature Reserve, the synonym for China’s Giant Panda is at the epicenter and is still not accessible.
I am not so concerned about wild animals. They often have the ability to sense the abnormalities in nature and thus get away, like those elephants and monkeys that sensed the Indian Ocean Tsunami and scurried away from the beach to higher ground. It is the animals that are in confined environments that will likely become victims, millions of livestock on farms, companion animals in people’s homes and even pandas that are kept in captivity.
There are warnings from animals before this earthquake as well. Thousands of toads came out of the sewer systems to get on the road in several Chinese cities—an extremely abnormal occurrence, yet people bushed it off as “animals are animals”. If only…if only we were able to interpret and heed the advise of animals.