Kathmandu: Street animals depend on humans for food as they overcome their hunger by feeding on waste food material that comes from hotels and houses. But with hotels closed and people’s movement limited because of the lockdown, many street animals cannot provide themselves with food as they did before the lockdown.
Many animal organizations have come forward with feeding hungry animals in the street in this desperate situation. While their efforts alone are not enough, they are doing their best, providing the animals with the basic food and water necessary for their survival. Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office estimates the number of stray dogs to be 30,000 in Kathmandu alone.
Sneha Shrestha, president of the Federation of Animal Welfare Nepal (FAWN) and founder of Sneha’s Care, organizations working towards strengthening the situation of animals in Nepal, said that the latter organization has fed hundreds of street dogs, abandoned cows, birds, and monkeys in localities around Pashupatinath, Sifal, Ring Road, Bhrikutimandap and Tripureshwor, leading up to Lagankhel.
According to Shrestha, Sneha’s Care has fed about 1200 street animals daily since the lockdown. Several other animal rights organizations have also come on board. Moreover, many animal lovers and youths have also come forward in groups.
Pramada Shah, co-founder and president of Animal Nepal, an NGO, said her organization has been working towards animal rights despite all odds. Many members of Animal Nepal were tested positive in this pandemic, making it difficult for the organization to work during this lockdown. “Still, the team has done their best out of this situation,” Shah said. “Even though our team members could not reach out to places because of their health issues, we have managed to mobilise our community members.”
Another organization feeding stray animals amid the pandemic is Paaila, operating around Lagankhel, Satdobato, Pulchowk, Jawalakhel and Mangal Bazar areas.
But while good samaritans like Sneha’s Care and Paaila have come to the rescue, their efforts alone are not enough, they say, urging the public to take up the responsibility of feeding stray animals in their locality.
“The organizations cannot reach everywhere even if they want to, but if every individual feeds at least one abandoned animal every day, many animals will not die out of hunger,” said Shrestha of Sneha’s care, “It is imperative that every individual should treat animals with love and compassion by providing them with food to survive, especially during this lockdown.”
Many animal rights groups have come to the rescue of starving stray animals but their effort alone is not enough, they say.
Khan also thinks that if every individual treated animals with compassion and empathy, many animals would not have to die of hunger in this pandemic.
“It is not practical to feed every abandoned animal on the street but if one family can provide one bowl of food and one bowl of water, it is more than enough to help a needy animal survive,” adds Shah of Animal Nepal.
Shah is a proponent of collection action and believes in the power of one individual to inspire many. “When one individual takes care of stray animals in their community, many others are likely to follow suit, leading to several other families contributing to feeding the street animals,” she said, “These practices must start and continue even after the lockdown ends because it is the right of an animal to live without hunger. And it is our responsibility to make that happen.”