Chennai Floods

As Chennai sank, some volunteers turned their attention to a forgotten group – abandoned animals

Veterinarians and volunteers did their best to ensure that the city's pets did not have to fend for themselves during the calamity.

As heavy rains inundated large parts of Chennai earlier this fortnight, thousands were faced with the choice between being rescued by boat or staying put in their homes. For most, the decision was easy to make. But not for those with pets.

“Many of the boatmen refused to take cats and dogs on board,” said Aditi Madusudhan, part of the core team of People For Cattle in India, an animal welfare organisation. “Some families were forced to abandon their pets, while others refused to get on the boats and stayed behind with their pets.”

Madusudhan and her team of 20 volunteers were able to help out in two cases, taking out boats of their own to rescue pets and reunite them with their owners.  While the country’s disaster relief agencies did their best to rescue people, People For Cattle in India was one of the many groups that led efforts to rescue animals during the floods.

Dr Amit Chaudhari, a senior programme manager with Humane Society International (India), arrived from Ahmedabad to help out. “A team of about 20 volunteers, we set out on inflatable boats and ventured into areas where there was 4-5 feet deep water,” said Chaudhari. “Panicked, starved and scared, many animals were roaming on the streets after being abandoned. On the first day, we conducted nearly a hundred rescues, mainly cats and dogs. We distributed food and biscuits to people as well.”

The rescued animals were taken to shelters. But treating them also proved difficult. “Treating the animals was a big challenge because of the trauma they had suffered,” said Madhusudhan, whose team rescued around 500 animals. “The animals were afraid of humans.”

As the floodgates opened, bigger animals were also left stranded. “In many cases, heavy animals like cows and buffaloes somehow made their way onto the roof,” said Dawn William, general manager of Blue Cross of India, an animal welfare organisation. “They were relatively safe there but without food. We brought them down using ropes and harnesses."

While the first days of December marked the worst of the deluge, William said the rescue work began after heavy rain in the city in the middle of November. William estimated that his team of 33 volunteers have rescued more than a thousand animals over the past month.

With many volunteers stranded in their homes, William said they had to seek to external help. “After rescue, we needed help treating the animals,” he said. “Veterinarians came from places like Bangalore. We even had three veterinarians from Romania.”

The benevolence of the volunteers endeared to them to locals. “When we first arrived in the city, we could not find any accommodation,” said Dr Chaudhari of HSI (India). “We looked everywhere. But once people saw us helping the animals, they opened their homes to us.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.