ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN
Our fund raising campaign held between Feb-Apr 2014 raised only $7,700 of the $11,000 we needed to make this camp happen. I dug into my personal funds to enable our plans in May 2014 to move forward, and bring much needed aid to the people and animals in the Himalaya. I'm now trying to offset those expenses, as well as get a head start on our 2015 plans to return to the Himalaya, to continue our much needed work. Please consider supporting me on this journey!
In Dec 2013, I made a visit to the Himalayas with naturalist and friend, Mukhiya Godame, who lived and grew up in Nepal's Himalaya. During our search for Himalayan wildlife, we learned from locals that ground foraging birds, and mammals like red panda, and musk deer have been frequently attacked and killed by dogs that live within the Conservation Area. For years, locals have also complained of dogs attacking and killing their livestock. (Below: Goat with a broken leg from a dog attack)
Desperate villagers who have had their livestock taken by the dogs, have taken to culling the dogs by feeding them a toxic pesticide, usually used to kill rodents and small birds. The dogs die a slow and painful death, and their carcasses are left along hillsides to be consumed by wild scavengers like vultures. This creates another problem, as the birds ingest the poison in turn, and have been observed unable to fly after feeding on the carcasses.
Sterilisations and vaccinations. It's that simple. And we want to keep it that way, because we believe that makes our project sustainable, and our targets achievable. We are working with existing animal welfare organisations, based in Nepal, with the skills and equipment needed to get this work done. Partnerships help us save on huge costs that can otherwise be directed towards themassive costs of transporting a team into the rugged Himalaya. We want to create access to basic veterinary services, so that locals in the Himalaya will have an effective and humane alternative to managing their community dog population, what won't cause further harm to wildlife, the environment, and themselves.
WHY STERILISE AND VACCINATE?
Sterilisation can help:
1) Reduce aggression toward other dogs, wildlife, and people
2) Reduce in urine marking, hence reducing the inconvenience dogs have on the community
3) Reduce roaming behaviour, hence reducing interaction between dogs and wildlife, curbing the potential for disease spread
4) Reduce injuries from dog fights, hence preventing infections or even death from wounds left untreated as many villages have no access to basic health or veterinary care. (Below: Dog receives treatment after its eyelid was torn open in a dog fight)
WHY NOT HELP PEOPLE?
Our project may concern working with dogs, but the beneficiaries are people. While the dogs may be dying a painful death, they aren't the ones struggling to cope with the processes, the people are. There are many good organisations dedicated to address human-centred issues, but delivering anti-rabies vaccinations and controlling dog populations is often overlooked until it becomes too late.
It is much more effective to prevent a rabies outbreak, than attempt to contain it. Especially in the rugged and dispersed villages of the Himalaya. Animal Birth Control and Anti-Rabies Vaccination Programmes are WHO recommended programmes for humane control of stray dogs and rabies transmission to humans. (Above: Dog with a torn eyelid from a dogfight undergoes surgery at our camp)
Some Of My Previous Work
Within a mere four months of developing this idea, we launched our pilot project into the Himalaya in May 2014. It does take a little crazy to do something like that! But it also requires a hell lot of resourcefulness and discipline! Together with our partner NGO (HART), we visited nine villages in the Himalayan District of Manang, and successfully vaccinated and neutered 158 dogs, and delivered vaccinations-only to an additional 43 that could not be neutered at this time. Locals were a little afraid of the idea initially, as surgery for dogs was unheard of. After observing how simple the procedure was, and watching dogs up on their feet soon after surgery, helped to boost their confidence in trusting what we were doing. Locals from other districts who encountered our camp encouraged us to visit their districts as well, as they too are struggling to manage their dog population.
Since 2008, I have worked in Nepal as a photojournalist, reporting social and environmental news. But this isn't just work for me, it is my life! I have been working with animal welfare NGOs since 1992, participating in and leading public education and outreach activities. In 1999, I began research into environmental crimes throughout the Asian region, studying the illegal trade of ivory, bear and tiger products, as well as illegal timber. I have worked with the TRAFFIC, IUCN, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). In 2002, I co-founded of one of Singapore's most established animal welfare organizations, ACRES. I left the committee to develop a response to other fields that I believed needed attention, and in 2003, I founded the marine protection organisation, Hantu Blog.
My work has been featured in Singapore's National English Daily The Straits Times, The New Paper, on radio, and on television, as well as countless magazines throughout the years, many with rather bizarre and awkward photos of me in clothes I was made to wear, so I'm not going to share those links. Rather, I think these journalistic accounts of the work I do in the field and with my community will tell you a better story!
My work focusses on community development and empowerment, through education. The idea is to ensure long term changes through persistent and sustainable approaches. To me, this means we need to engage and develop capacity within the community, so that they trust the work, recognise how it benefits them, and believe that they can be a part of our efforts.
None of my work would be possible without the shared vision, support, and labor of countless of dedicated volunteers, donors, journalists, and community leaders! Their contributions are silent but powerful. Through the confidence and belief of my supporters, we have been able to do this work that needs doing! Learn more about me at debbyng.net. If you have a LinkedIn account, you can also check out some of my photo stories and writing.
How The Funds Will Be Used
Total costs from our pilot project in May 2014 amounted to US$13,400. But it was really tight, and because we didn't manage to raise sufficient funds the within the short 4-month window, I had to contribute about US$3,000 from my personal funds. It would be really nice if I didn't have to do that next year! Our next camp is scheduled for September 2015, that gives us a more comfortable time frame to work within. Here's a breakdown of our financial needs for 2015:
Food & Accommodation US$ 2,700
Transportation US$ 6,000
Contingency expenses US$ 800
Salary for one staff US$ 1,000
Medical and surgical supplies US$ 2,000
Planning & Logistics US$ 2,000
Campaign collaterals US$ 500
Total US$ 15,000
WAIT? WHY HASN'T THIS BEEN DONE BEFORE?
Because it's tedious. We chose Manang district as a pilot because of all the Himalayan districts, it is the "easiest to access". Check us out on the back of this tractor! We also commuted on motorbike, 4x4, and foot! Traversing rugged terrain with surgical equipment, and going to work the next day, is not easy. And it's not cheap. Transportation costs are huge, but when we consider future savings from rabies prevention and environmental degradation, these costs are well justified.