Experts have warned that droughts, natural disasters and environmental disasters will kill millions of working animals around the world in the coming decade.
More than 200 million working animals – such as horses, donkeys, camels, bulls and elephants – currently support the livelihoods of at least 600 million people in the world’s poorest communities.
But floods, cyclones and wildfires are having devastating – and worse – effects on working animals and their families in low-income countries around the world.
Official figures in India estimate that 17,000 animals (including bulls and buffaloes) were killed by cyclones across the country in 2020, and about one million cattle are believed to be lost to floods every year.
And the severe drought that hit East Africa in 2017 resulted in the death of 80 percent of Somaliland’s livestock.
Global animal charity SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) is calling on governments to take measures to protect the ‘silent victims’ of climate change, as the COP26 UN climate conference nears its November 1 start date .
SPANA Chief Executive Linda Edwards said: “The spiraling climate disaster is now high on the political agenda. But the devastating impact it has on animals is still almost completely ignored.
“Animals are suffering badly from the extremes of drought and climate change, paying the ultimate price in large numbers.
“And the loss of these animals has a huge human cost, as so many families in the poorest regions of the world depend on them for their survival.
“We have reached a point of crisis – every day the lives of working animals and the people who depend on them are made worse by the devastating effects of extreme weather.
“It is imperative that firm international commitments are made to address the widespread impact of climate change.”
In response to the growing crisis, SPANA is providing a lifeline to working animals in many of the world’s poorest communities.
The charity is providing free veterinary care and vaccination programs, as well as carrying out emergency projects to ensure that water, feed and shelter from extreme conditions are available to animals in dire need.
After the worst drought in years in Kenya’s Turkana region, Spana built a 110-metre-deep solar-powered borehole to provide a sustainable supply of fresh water for more than 15,000 animals and nomadic pastoralist communities.
When climate change and disasters strike, the loss of these animals can threaten the very existence of entire communities.
On World Animal Day (October 4), SPANA is calling for immediate, international action to protect the animals and the vulnerable communities they support.
John Craven OBE, patron of the charity, said: “The climate crisis is affecting every one of us, in all parts of the world, but communities and animals often suffer the most in developing countries.
“Working animals abroad helps ensure the survival of millions of families that have almost nothing. But the very existence of these animals is now in grave danger.
He said, “The time has come to give them the immediate help that they need. SPANA is making a life-saving difference by providing relief for working animals facing the consequences of environmental upheaval around the world. “
Find out more about the impact of climate change on working animals by visiting the SPANA website: spana.org/worldanimalday