297 horses abandoned in Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani; Sadhu Vaswani mission to the rescue
The horse-cart joyride has been a popular attraction in the Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani hill stations in Western Maharashtra. However, as the hill station’s tourism has been badly hit by the Covid- induced lockdown, many in the horse-ride business have started abandoning the horses. These animals are now being adopted by NGOs like the Sadhu Vaswani mission.
As many as 297 horses abandoned by operators hit by restrictions, are now being provided fodder.
According to Azeem Dange, who owns eight horses, their livelihood has been badly hit due to the pandemic after local authorities imposed a lockdown in April in Mahabaleshwar, which attracts a large number of tourists from Pune and Mumbai. For these tourists, the horse ride on the table-top of the hill station has been a major attraction.
“In normal times, our entire family used to earn our livelihood by taking tourists on horse rides in the hill station. However, the pandemic has put brakes on all leisure activities here, making it difficult to manage fodder for our horses,” he said.
He added that generally a horse needs 15 kg of fodder per day, which costs ₹500 to ₹600, and it has becoming difficult to provide adequate fodder to the starving horses.
“It was me, who reached out to the Sadhu Vaswani mission informing them that the horses in Mahabaleshwar were starving as most of the owners were not able to provide fodder. The volunteers of the mission then came here, conducted a survey, and made arrangements for fodder by engaging with local suppliers,” he said.
Sadhu Vaswani Mission recently adopted 150 starving horses from Panchgani. Earlier, the mission adopted 147 horses from Mahabaleshwar, facing a similar situation due to the second wave of the pandemic.
“Once we adopted horses in Mahabaleshwar, we realised that the situation would be similar in other regions where tourism is the basic earning factor. Following a survey, we found that another 150 horses in Panchgani were undergoing the same plight, so we decided to add them into the mission family,” said a Vaswani mission spokesperson.
According to the mission, there are total of 298 horses, including new-born foals, that are now being provided daily fodder by Sadhu Vaswani Mission. The fodder is sourced from a local provider. Each horse eats about 10kg of fodder per day. The cost of the fodder is ₹10 per kg. The daily cost for a feeding a horse is ₹100. The mission plans to continue serving the horses until the need is there.