Spotlight Nepal: Lifting a cow helps a family survive

Only one cow had survived but has unable to stand for 20 days.

We had an amazing partnership with the team from Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health Programme (SARAH), a team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians from Sikkim, India.  They provided local expertise as they speak Nepali and are familiar with traditional animal husbandry

This post was recently filed from the field by Diane Treadwell, IFAW Disaster Response team leader. --SW

We have spent the last week going from village to village, farm to farm trying to help the animals who have been affected by the initial earthquake and the subsequent quakes that followed.

We have given antibiotics, pain meds, set fractures, cleaned wounds and provided supportive care to many animals. Some we know will not make it, others stand a chance, but we treat them all, doing what we can before moving on to the next.

It was apparent that no structures were left undamaged.Today when we arrived at Nangle Bharey, near Sidhupalchak (the epicenter) it was apparent that no structures were left undamaged, most not standing. Villagers sat stunned among the debris that had once been their homes. Walking through the village, we encountered many farmers who needed help.

This is the story of one…

This farmer tells us he has lost everything: four beautiful grandchildren, three cows, his home and his barn.

One of his cows had been buried by the bricks and stones of their barn. The villagers spent three days, digging by hand to uncover the animals.

Only one survived but has been down, unable to stand for 20 days.

But since a cow can provide 10 liters of milk a day, which is a monetary and nutritional resource to this desperate family, our goal is to get this cow standing.

A sling was built to bear the weight of the cow.While part of the team administers medical care, others begin to cut bamboo, sew together a sling and build a support structure that will bear the weight of the cow.

Gently we roll the cow onto the sling, with the help of neighbors and other villagers, and carry the cow to the support structure we have built. Using the sling, bamboo poles and ropes we hoist the cow to a standing position.

She is weak, dehydrated and injured but slowly she begins to stand and put weight on her legs. Luckily there are no fractures, only open wounds, ulcers and sores on her legs and belly.

The team administers medical care.We clean each wound, treating the infections and bandaging the open sores to promote healing and to keep the flies away. We give intravenous fluids, pain medication and antibiotics. We bring fresh straw for her to lay on. We deliver bags of grain for her to eat, and we build a structure to provide shelter.

We teach the farmer how to care for her injuries.

We have done all we can. We are hopeful.

As we pack up our supplies, ready to move on and help others, the farmer comes over to us. One by one he hugs us, shakes our hands and tells us each the same thing:

“Thank you for giving his remaining family hope. Now we have a chance. Now we have a future.”


Three days later we hear from a local contact that the cow is eating, her wounds are healing and she standing on her own.


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
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Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
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