Horses that have been neglected by their owners since the ban on tourists in the Nilgiris during the lockdown are being fed by volunteer organisations with the help of local government departments.
The horses, which were used to offer rides to tourists prior to the pandemic, have largely been left to fend for themselves by their owners, who are unable to afford the costs of their upkeep. Many of these animals, mostly former race horses, are a common sight at trash heaps around the town.
“Many of them are in an emaciated state as they have not been fed for weeks,” said M. Balaji, a resident of Tamilagam Road in Udhagamandalam. Horses that were kept in Khandal have been making their way to the surrounding residential areas and forests, searching for food, some also sustaining injuries due to accidents.
The Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS-India), the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Nilgiris district), the district administration and the Department of Animal Husbandry have now teamed up to provide food for the horses in need of assistance.
Nigel Otter, chairman of WVS-India, said that around 20-25 former race horses were being fed. He said the horses were being given wheat bran, carrots, salt and oats.
“Feed is also being given to owners of horses who are taking care of the animals,” he added. Over the last few weeks, funds for the initiative have been raised by WVS, the district administration, the Department of Animal Husbandry as well as local residents in Udhagamandalam town.