Indian's Manas Vaccination Camp - Digest 8/24-8/28
This digest of posts were compiled from reports contributed by one of the IFAW Emergency Responders on the scene, Michael Booth, who has been photographing and video taping his team's journey throughout this flood ravaged section of the world...he and his team mate Wit Davis filed these reports over a four day period from the teams arrival in India's Manas National Park to their departure from a working vaccination camp where preperations to vaccinate between 4000-5000 livestock were beginning...
Wit and I have just arrived to the Bansbari Lodge at the gates of Manas National Park. The road today from Guwahati was bumpy and long, but we managed to arrive in spite of road constructions (large portions were swept away by the floods) and some minor electrical problems with our vehicle. Needless to say it was quite an adventure to arrive here.
On the way, we got a much better sense of the damage caused by these floods. Hundreds of people and their cattle were forced to relocate to the sides of the national highway on higher ground after their villages were left underwater by the monsoon rains.
The Bansbari lodge is experiencing tough times after the floods. The main access to this area is cut-off and still underwater so getting here involves taking a much longer and narrower tour through the local villages. Power lines also suffered extensive damage and at the moment the only source of electricity we have is the generator that is switched on for a few hours each night.
The vaccination camp here in Manas started its 10-day project today and we will be joining them early tomorrow morning (2nd day of operations). The idea is to create an 'immune belt' around the south border of Manas National Park. Once this is done, the chances of wild animals getting diseases transmitted by cattle in the area decrease significantly. The northern borders of Manas near Bhutan are free from cattle so no need to set up vaccination programs there.
25 August - Day 2
We have just finished a very long day out in Vaccination Camps near Manas. We woke up today at 4:45am as the sun came up in Assam, the vaccination camps are set up from around 5:30 or 6am until 10-11am, so it's essential to get an early start (cattle are left to graze the rest of the day).
This was the second day of a 10-day vaccination relief program after the floods that hit the region in July. On average, 350 livestock are vaccinated and treated for other illnesses such as FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease). After 10 days, 4000 to 5000 animals should be treated.
Two camps at approximately 1km apart from each other are set up to cover a larger number of animals. Cows, goats, pigs and buffalo were treated today as people made their way to our camps that were set up in local schools. The team of vets and vet assistants work non-stop and efficiently to go through as many animals as possible.
It didn't look as though we would be able to resume activities today due to all-night rains and a very wet morning here in Manas. Rain not only makes certain roads impossible to pass, but also keeps villagers in their homes. When raining, there is no use in setting up vaccination camps so it all looked very bleak when our alarm went off at 4:45am.
We waited for an hour or so for the Monsoon rains to end and finally yes, it stopped and we were able to head towards our destination for the day. The heavy downpour played its part on the events of the day. Not a lot of people were showing up to the 2 destinations that were set up (in local school villages, like the previous year), so if the animals don't come to you, you go to the animals, and that we did.
Crossing rivers by foot and lugging equipment, vaccinations, the IFAW/WTI Vaccination team headed to the fields and with great success. At the days' end, we had reached our average of 350 livestock treated. Before heading back to our lodge, a thankful farmer treated us all to tea at his home.
Now in the afternoon, villagers from all around held prayers to their gods so that the floods would stop soon!... Also, many went to the site where the Beki River broke off and inundated farm lands causing a massive river tsunami that claimed human and animal lives. All of this reminds us of the heavy toll brought on by these recurrent floods in Northeast India.
26 August - Day 3
On our third day of Vaccination Camp in Manas… more rain. That didn't stop the team at all as we headed as planned and set-up 2 camps in villages outside the southern boundaries of Manas National Park.
At the end of the day we visited a cow with serious injuries brought on by Foot and Mouth Disease. Unfortunately, many of these cases have been identified, but were immediately treated and hopefully on the way to a quick recovery.
27 August - Day 4
Last day for us here in Manas. We have established 4 different camp locations today and were able to exceed the average to around 400 livestock treated today, including several dozen Buffalo. With this increase we are well underway to achieve 4000-5000 livestock treated during the 10-day operations in Manas.
The team dealt with an interesting case of a 3-legged cow. She was born this way but with the right care and regular vaccination/vitamin boosts like the one provided by the IFAW vaccination camp in Manas, this cow is in great health and has already given birth to 3 calves.
At the end of the day, the Vaccination Team group photo was taken, as Wit and I have resumed activities in Manas and are now in Guwahati, ready to travel back home in the next few days.