Unpredictable weather events, fueled by the climate crisis, are putting animal rescue organizations under additional pressure, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has said.
A sharp increase in the frequency of extreme conditions is hampering global efforts to help all wildlife, livestock and pets in need. With that in mind, IFAW reports that it has had its busiest year yet. Its specialized emergency responders are now pushed beyond their limits.
The Disaster Response and Risk Reduction team is responsible for reducing animal suffering before, during and after a natural disaster. He is appalled by his continued workload.
“Disasters strike communities that are still recovering from their last disaster,” Shannon Walajtys, director of disaster response and risk reduction at IFAW, said in a statement.
“Houses are still covered and public works infrastructure is still damaged, which makes these structures more vulnerable. We can barely keep up.
Walajtys points to the worsening climate emergency. It asserts that the anthropogenic destruction of natural ecosystems is a root cause of the climate crisis. It is also, she says, a contributor to later extreme weather.
Animal agriculture for meat production is a major contributor to the climate emergency, requiring vast deforestation and generating huge amounts of methane.
The World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction agree that the climate crisis is making extreme weather events more common. Last year, they published research results that indicate a resurgence of natural disasters over the past 50 years.
Build grassroots support
To accommodate the growing number of needed rescues, IFAW is constantly investing in restoring the health of natural ecosystems. But despite these efforts, it is essential to mobilize more volunteers.
Building large community networks that can respond quickly and in close proximity is one of IFAW’s priorities. He wants to get to any emergency quickly, even if only in a “first eyes on the situation” role.
“We supplement this strategy with boots on the pitch. We have local responders who have very specialized skills in animal care and control with all species of wildlife, pets and livestock.
The large number of rescue missions that IFAW has assisted or financially supported highlights the need for such strategies. The diversity of disasters experienced in a single year is also an indicator of the worsening climate emergency.
So far in 2022, the Walajtys team has helped save animals from floods, droughts, tsunamis and wildfires, either with labor or funds.
No two rescues are the same
Earlier this year, flooding in Australia left native species including koalas and kangaroos at risk of being swept away and killed. Many baby animals become orphans during such events. This motivated IFAW to act quickly as the torrential rains showed no signs of abating. Emergency grants were given to local nonprofits and animal shelters, along with food, generators and even heartbeat simulators, to care for the young creatures.
Meanwhile, equally severe flooding in Kentucky saw pets as the main cause for concern. Volunteers were dispatched to find missing family members and other animals. Many had been washed away by floods and mudslides. Found animals were then reunited with their owners, while wild animals were treated for their injuries and released safely.
IFAW has recently been heavily involved in rescue efforts following severe flooding in Pakistan. Following the devastating event, which is believed to have claimed around 1,500 lives so far, UN Secretary-General António Guterres echoed Walajtys’ thought that the climate crisis is linked to natural disasters.
“We are heading for a disaster. We have waged war on nature and nature is backing down and fighting back in devastating ways. Today in Pakistan, tomorrow in any of your countries,” he said.