Uttar Pradesh: A few good men in Sitapur provide medical aid to stray animals
Twenty five good samaritans do all they can to help wounded stray animals in rural Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh. With no help from either the government or the village inhabitants, these volunteers use their own resources to provide medical aid to the injured animals. Details here.
Ramji Mishra 30 Jun 2022 12:18 PM GMT
Maholi (Sitapur), Uttar Pradesh
Around ten in the morning on June 29, Vikas Shukla received a phone call begging for medical help. He noted down the location, made a few more calls, checked his medical box and headed out.
The SOS call to the 26-year-old had come from Bihat Gaur village in Maholi tehsil, Sitapur, 12 kms away. By the time Shukla reached there, a few of his other mates were already tending to six cows some of which had wounds on their legs and abdomen.
Vikas Shukla and his companions provide medical aid and care to stray cattle and dogs. Their first case was in 2017 when on a sweltering afternoon, Shukla received a phone call from a villager informing him about a cow that had torn its skin on the barbed wires of a field.
"The area was about four kilometres away I washed the wounds with clean water and applied antiseptic cream on it. After that, I dressed the wound with a bandage. After a few days, the cow recovered completely," Shukla told Gaon Connection. In the past five years, Shukla has lost count of how many injured animals he and his mates have tended to.
"The sight of the animals in pain was something I just couldn't ignore," Shukla told Gaon Connection. Ever since he has decided to provide first aid to animals near his home.
What started as Shukla's lone journey to attend to the stray animals has attracted 25 other young people from Maholi who have joined his mission as volunteers.
Apart from Sitapur district, they also receive phone calls from the adjoining districts of Hardoi and Lakhimpur Kheri.
"We are all proud of these young men. They have achieved far more than what the government or the administration could ever do," Manmohan Mishra, a resident of Maholi, told Gaon Connection.
Forty-six-year-old Santosh Dixit, a school van driver, is part of Shukla's group that rescues stray animals and provides them medical aid. "Often, we receive distress calls from villagers late at night. It becomes difficult to navigate the roads in the dead of the night and find the injured animal. So, we instruct the villagers to tie the injured animal at a safe place so that it doesn't wander around," Dixit said.
Rising stray cattle problem in UP
According to the livestock census data for 2019, although the total number of stray cattle nation wide has reduced by 3.2 per cent between 2012 and 2019, in Uttar Pradesh their numbers have registered a whopping 17.34 per cent increase.
According to the official data, there were more than 1.18 million stray cattle in the state (see graph).
"The stray cattle population is continuously on the rise ever since Yogi ji [Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath] came to power. The most common injuries the stray animals suffer are deep bruises when they come in contact with barbed wires. Some cattle are also beaten up or hit with stones by farmers who to safeguard their crops," he added.
"There are injuries caused by road accidents too when the animals suffer fractures. We try to contact a government veterinarian, but usually we end up using private practitioners and spend money from our pockets to get these animals treated," Shukla added.
'It all starts with a random distress call'
Anuj Kumar Singh is a member of Shukla's group. He told Gaon Connection that the group has saved the lives of thousands of stray animals in the last five years.
"It all starts with a phone call. I sometimes receive up to five calls in a single day. The villagers inform us about the location of the injured animal following which we have a quick group phone call to coordinate and reach the site," Singh said.
Himanshu Trivedi, another volunteer, told Gaon Connection that the number of distress calls received from villagers sometimes reached upto 10 phone calls in a day.
"People talk about our good work and prefer to inform us about an injured animal rather than informing the authorities. This shows their trust in the work we do," said Trivedi, who works at a local pharmacy.
Singh stated that so far, no charitable organisation or villager has come forward to donate resources to the group to provide medical aid to the animals.
"This sometimes creates a problem for us as not all of us are employed or are earning well," he said.
"Sometimes, Vikas has to go to far off areas around midnight. We are constantly worried for him. We are a family of farmers and almost all of our earnings are from farming activities. Whatever he is doing is really good but I wonder if it's sustainable,"Dharmendra Shukla, the father of Vikas Shukla told Gaon Connection. While the gentleman has been supporting his son and lending him money, he worries. "But it cannot go on forever. He needs to make his work sustainable," he said.
"Often, he returns home late at night after treating animals and goes to sleep without dinner. I am proud of his work but he should take care of his health too," Pooja, Vikas Shukla's sister told Gaon Connection.
Need government support
Dixit, who is the oldest member of the group, complained about the lack of assistance from the government.
"We do whatever we can to help the stray animals but the government machinery never helps us. We will be able to do our work far more efficiently if the government provides medicines or financial assistance to the volunteers," Dixit told Gaon Connection.
Sometimes even the wild animals in the forests around, such as monkeys and snakes, desperately need help. "But we are not equipped to help such animals. When we call the forest department no one even picks up our phone calls," he added.
"What started as a simple act of helping injured animals is now getting acknowledged. Our group of volunteers have become famous in some of the bordering areas in the neighbouring Hardoi and Lakhimpur districts," Shukla said.
"These young men coordinate amongst each other and this has helped in decreasing our response time which sometimes proves to be critical in saving the animals," he added.