2021 COVID Updates

April 30, 2021 | By Mahima Sharma

July 1st, 2021

The month of June has kept the animal care staff and the rescue staff on their toes! On the World Environment Day, this year, Wildlife SOS rescued a blind elephant named Nina in urgent need of medical care and attention at the geriatric age of 60 years. Nina spent her entire life navigating through narrow streets and busy roads in spite of her grave condition and being abused as an elephant for wedding ceremonies. Her first steps of freedom at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital were also the first ever steps she took without being forced or beaten into submission.

As Nina settled to her surroundings, the elephant care staff ensured that she is always comfortable as she continues to remain under highly intensive care and treatment. She has been diagnosed with an aggravated condition of osteoarthritis which affects her hind limbs, especially her ankylosed hind limb. She remains calm and cooperative during treatment with a steady supply of her favourite watermelons.

Nina’s rescue happened in the middle of the lockdown in India in the wake of the pandemic. It is unfortunate to note that the Delta variant of the COVID19 infection has arrived in the country and is steadily spreading across the country. Our rescue teams and animal care staff have been provided with the necessary protective equipment to brace themselves from the impact of the same. Most of our staff has received their first doses of the vaccine and are awaiting the next one after the required time gap as advised by the medical authorities.

Thank you for your continued support as we battle the onslaught of the pandemic and provide the animals in distress with the love and care that they deserve.

May 31st, 2021

Our resident leopard, Shivani, suffers from a physical disability and can be seen resting here. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

This week, an update comes your way from the Western Ghats of the country, that have braved the dual wrath of nature – first, with COVID19 strengthening its grips and the other, Cyclone Takutae. Although no damage has been reported at the Wildlife SOS Rescue Centres, our animal care staff and veterinary team employed necessary precautions to ensure that our resident animals are safe. The cases for COVID19 have now started stabilising in Northern parts of India but the situation has taken a turn for the worse in South India, especially in states of Karnataka and Kerala. With necessary precautions in place, we continue to fight against this invisible evil, that has affected all of us at a personal level this time.

Our team, operating out of Maharashtra, successfully reunited a lost leopard cub with her mother, thus reinstating hope in these difficult times. We thank you for your continued support to us! You may watch the reunion video, right here.

May 24th, 2021

Resident sloth bear, Polly, right after a relaxing nap.
Resident sloth bear, Polly, right after a relaxing nap. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Shresatha Pachori]

The weather in the Northern parts of India has turned marginally pleasant with occasional spells of rain. This has been instrumental in spelling relief for our resident animals as they get respite from the soaring temperatures. Our bear care staff and elephant care staff are gradually resuming their duties, post-COVID19 recovery. Our animal care staff and field staff undergo temperature checks everyday when they report for duty each morning. The offices where the staff is seated is regularly sanitised in order to keep them protected.

India continues to report close to 300,000 fresh COVID19 cases across the country. While the vaccination drives stand suspended in most places, our team is taking every precaution possible to attend to animal emergencies and provide the high quality care needed by our animals. We are grateful to you for your support in these troubled times, thank you!

Our resident elephants, Bijli, Chanchal and Laxmi, send you positivity in these difficult times.
Our resident elephants, Bijli, Chanchal and Laxmi, send you positivity in these difficult times. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

May 11th, 2021

Suzy, the oldest elephant at ECCC, on a walk with her caregiver.
Suzy, the oldest elephant at ECCC, on a walk with her caregiver. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

The elephant care staff at ECCC and Elephant Hospital have been recovering well, having received timely medical intervention. Many districts in Uttar Pradesh have gone into complete lockdown, while Delhi and Karnataka continue to be under strict lockdown, thus making inter-state travel restricted. For the elephant care staff that have tested positive and are presently under home quarantine, our team continues to be in touch with them to help arrange for medicines as and when required. Additionally, at ECCC and the Elephant Hospital campus, all the structural enrichments used by our resident elephants are being regularly sanitised, while their fields are cleaned twice a day, to ensure they remain protected.

We will continue to post updates here as it is expected that there will be a surge in cases towards the end of May, we hope for safely sailing to the other side, with your support. Thank you very much.

May 6th, 2021

Our bear caregiver pouring some honey onto enrichment balls for our bears.
Our bear caregiver pouring some honey onto enrichment balls for our bears. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Shresatha Pachori]

We have been in regular touch with our staff, checking on their health progress as they battle the COVID19 infection. For our animal care staff at the Centre, there are proper sanitisation measures being undertaken to ensure their safety as well as the safety of the animals under our care. The bear care staff regularly sanitises the enclosures and structural enrichments for our resident bears, most of them being under geriatric care, requiring extra attention and care. The staff at all the Rescue Centres undergoes thermal screening every day and works in protective gear such as gloves, face masks and shoe covers. Raw materials are becoming challenging to procure due to surge-pricing, but we prioritise the health of our resident animals in every way.

We thank you for your continued support in these trying times!

Here's a photograph of Peanut and Coconut, sending you strength in these difficult times!
Here’s a photograph of Peanut and Coconut, sending you strength in these difficult times! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

April 30, 2021

Dear friends,

Many people are writing to us expressing their concern for the disturbing news on how COVID-19 has hit India.  First and foremost, I would like to reassure everybody that the animals are receiving the same quality of care that they always get.  

Last year when the virus initially hit India, we restructured many of our practices so we could minimize the risk of having our staff exposed to the virus.  This included working from home where possible, having more staff move onto site, implementing social distancing and mask wearing protocols, and limiting contact with individuals outside of the animal facilities.  These measures served us well during the first wave and we were able to continue our work, protect our team and rescue four elephants during the lockdown.

Now that the second wave has hit India, we are presented with a new set of challenges that we are working through in order to protect our staff and the animals within our care. 

At our animal care facilities we are facing significant challenges.  Our dedicated and committed staff continue to work hard, but several staff have tested positive for COVID. So far, most are asymptomatic and we are quarantining them to control the spread. 

We are trying to prepare for what we need to care for our team. We will be investing in COVID tests so we can regularly check our team and monitor their health. In addition, we are sourcing 5-6 oxygen concentrators and 12 oxygen cylinders to care for our team if needed. As hospitals fill, Doctors and Medical Advisors said we should gather equipment in the event of a medical crisis, and to do it now before supply shortages become worse.  

We are again stockpiling food, materials and medicines for the animals to last us at least for three to four months so we can survive the imminent lockdowns and supply chain issues that are looming over us. We already have a strict curfew and lockdown imposed in Delhi, and are having to use animal ambulances to move critical medicines and food supplies for the animals at the Bear Rescue Centres. 

For those of you asking how you can help, our biggest need right now is funds to help increase our supplies of food and medicines for the elephants, and also to procure the oxygen concentrators and COVID safety equipment, including test kits. 

Thank you for reaching out to us and expressing your concern.  With your support we were able to get through the first wave.  We will make it through this second wave as well with the help of our friends and supporters.  We will post here regularly on how things are going if you would like updated information!

Kartick Satyanarayan

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