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News18 Impact: Kerala's Great Cow Rescue

The cattle, many of them destined for slaughterhouses, had been let on to islets to graze. They were stuck after the river’s water level rose suddenly following torrential rain.

Achyuth Punnekat | News18

Updated:July 14, 2018, 3:11 PM IST
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News18 Impact: Kerala's Great Cow Rescue
Several inflatable boats were used by the 45-member NDRF team to transport the remaining cattle to safety. (Image: News18)
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Malappuram: In a one of its kind operation, the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has rescued cattle stranded on an island on the Bharathapuzha River in Malappuram district of Kerala. The rescue efforts were launched on Friday after News18 Kerala highlighted their plight.

Over a hundred cattle, many of them destined for slaughterhouses, had been let on to islets to graze. They were stuck after the river’s water level rose suddenly on Thursday following torrential rain. After a 48-hour ordeal, the animals are now safe.

Local residents allege that the cattle traders who had let the animals on to the islets, abandoned them after seeing the water rise. News18 Kerala’s reporter Surjith Ayyapath was the first to report on the plight of the cattle from the islet.

Large tracts of the Bharathapuzha river are usually devoid of water, and it is very easy for these islets to be accessed on foot via the sandy river bed. But the water level rose suddenly triggered by heavy rain in catchment areas over the past week.

After the media took up the issue, the state government intervened and roped in a 45-member NDRF team from Thrissur. Speaking to News18, Kerala Animal Welfare Minister K Raju had promised stringent action against those responsible. Although rescue efforts had been launched on Friday, it took till Saturday morning for it to build up steam.

NDRF Assistant Commandant Jithesh told News18, “We had to delay the rescue until we first determined how many cattle were stranded.” Meanwhile, several dozen cattle disappeared overnight. Water level had significantly fallen overnight, and local authorities suspect many cattle may were spirited away by the cattle traders fearing legal action.

Several inflatable boats were used by the 45-member NDRF team to transport the remaining cattle to safety. They were aided by teams from the state Animal Husbandry Department and district officials. The NDRF team itself managed to rescue just under 20 cattle and buffaloes. Some buffaloes had to be tranquilised as they panicked.

A veterinary team was on standby to treat the cattle as they came ashore. Animal Husbandry Department Deputy Commissioner Suresh told News18, “Most of the cattle seem healthy and are unharmed. We will take a decision on what action needs to be taken against the cattle traders after discussing with the Panchayat and Revenue officials.”

The Thirunavaya Panchayat President Faisal Edassery told News18, “Only the owner of one buffalo has come forward so far to claim the animal. We are trying to determine who the animals belongs to. We feel cases need to be filed against them for negligence. The way these cattle were abandoned in completely unacceptable.”

Reports say some cattle may have earlier drowned. No carcasses have been recovered yet.
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