By Resham Beri
historic rescue effort, the first ever of its kind in India, a mule stranded on a rocky out crop surrounded by swirling flood waters near Sonprayag in Uttarakhand for over 3 weeks was rescued using a helicopter and flown to safety by Delhi based NGO’s Wildlife SOS and Friendicoes SECA.
The private helicopter belonging to Summit Aviation was bravely piloted by expert pilot Captain Bhupinder who said, “landing the helicopter near the mule was risky and a real challenge, ut it was worth the risk to save a life.” Captain Angad from Bangalore was the co-pilot on the chopper.
Geeta Seshamani, Vice-President for Friendicoes SECA said, “It was dangerous to land the helicopter in the area where the mule was stranded, but Capt. Bhupinder took the risk to save a life and proved his mettle both as a pilot and as a compassionate human being.”
Equine Specialist vet Dr. Akhilesh of Friendicoes SECA, who led the heroic rescue operation along with paravet Abbas said, “it was a very dangerous situation when we were dropped off by the helicopter as there were rocks tumbling down from the mountainside all around us. I used a carefully calibrated misture of xylazine and ketamine to tranquilize the 200 kil animal and then secured teh animal so it would not move inside the helicopter. The pilot and the co-pilot helped us load the sedated animal into th ehelicopter. The operation was exciting and also exhausting.”
(AWBI) Animal Welfare Board of India who coordinated the logistics with the helicopter pilot and the Wildlife SOS team said, “I’m delighted that the stranded mule has been rescued after such a long time of holding onto hope. The Wildlife SOS and Friendicoes Disaster Relief Team’s presence in the area has been really a great benefit to the distressed animals in the area. It is very sad and disappointing that the State Government of Uttarakhand has not been more helpful in providing us help and resources to take care of the animals stranded in the area.”
Wildlife SOS and Friendicoes have deployed two disaster relief teams to Uttarakhand to bring medical aid to the distressed and stranded animals. There are estimated to be hundreds that need help. The teams consists of veterinary doctors, para-vets with equine experience, farriers, emergency drivers and aims to provide veterinary aid, medicines, treatment and fodder to the trapped animals.
Chairman Animal Welfare Board of India, (Ministry of Environment and Forests) Govt. of India- Maj Gen RM Kharab said, ” My heartiest congratulations to all those involved in this rescue operation. I am glad that a good example has been set by rescuing the stranded mule.”