Devastated hills wary of animal fury

  • Prithviraj Singh and Nihi Sharma Sahani, Hindustan Times, Dehradun
  • Updated: Jun 29, 2013 23:42 IST

Some 4,000 stranded horses and mules may go wild and attack humans if not provided food soon, warn animal activists. These equines — a major source of livelihood for locals — ferried pilgrims to and from Kedarnath temple and Hemkund Sahib.

The activists said stranded hungry horses attacked a group of people in Kedarnath area. State animal husbandry department officials denied this.

“We have been told about man-horse conflict in Kedarnath. Some 4,000 horses have been stranded for 13 days without food on the pilgrimage routes. They cannot live on cattle feed and are bound to go wild,” said Kamna, member of Animal Welfare Board of India’s Lucknow chapter.

She slammed the state government for not providing fodder for 2,500 horses in Ghagaria and Soneprayag areas. “We sent horse fodder on Saturday but that’s not enough,” she said.

Jodie Underhill of NGO Waste Warriors said providing food for the hungry horses and mules was crucial for the local economy. “These animals can serve locals again if they survive. But if they die, their carcasses will pollute the area,” she said.

Officials played down the issue. “The stranded animals are in poor shape but there are no reports of them attacking humans,” said veterinarian Kailash Uniyal camping at Guptakashi. His mission is to reach out to the animals stranded at Soneprayag and Kedarnath.

The focus is also on flies and dogs scavenging on corpses partly buried in the debris, raising fears of an epidemic.

“Cold conditions prevented the bodies from decomposing fast. But the process has started with flies and maggots all over them,” said Sanjay Das, head of forensic medicine at Himalayan Institute of Hospital Trust, Jolly Grant after returning from Kedarnath for autopsies and taking DNA samples.

“It is difficult to pull corpses out of the debris. Rainwater will wash them away and contaminate rivers and streams,” he added.

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