For those of us living in the Kingdom, the sightof a wandering ox is no big deal, unless of course you have been stalled in traffic at Chabahil Chok for the past 15 minutes, waiting for the resident bull to finish his brunch.
In its female avatar, the holy animal is worshipped as the embodiment of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. But sometimes when one sees a local shop owner dousing a cow with hot water, in order to rid himself of the chore of cleaning cowdung from the pavement, one wonders. The other day, when a local water truck slammed into a calf and sped off in the middle of the night, one wondered again about the spirituality of the driver. But such is the life of Kathmandu's street cattle.
Personally, I admire the practice of letting cows run free on the streets. Better off there than where I hail from, where cows are raised in tiny pens and turned into burgers behind closed doors. Still, there are accidents and abuse, even in the Kingdom of Nepal, and our cows need help. Despite strict punishment to drivers that collide with street fauna (and probably because of it) there are quite a few hit-and-run cases where urban livestock have to live with serious wounds. Many are left to rot on the side of the road. So for all of us, here is a short user's manual on how to save a cow:
1. If you see a cow in trouble, don't ignore the problem. It is not aboiut to go away.
2. Enlist the help of others, as cows are generally heavy things and cannot be lifted into a rescue vehicle alone.
3. Secure adequate transportation. A Maruti taxi won't do as the cows won't fit in the back seat. A flatbed truck with folding sides works best. Offer the driver expenses as petrol is becoming harder and harder to find these days.
4. Using a blanket or other strong material as a makeshift gurney and gently roll the cow into it. Then, with six or more helpers, lift the cow into the vehicle using the blanket. Sometimes cows use their god-like prerogative to struggle or bellow but don't be dissuaded, as talking calmly to the cow in Nepali and being firm will do the trick. (However, do stay clear of flailing horns and hooves.)
5. Transport the injured or sick cow to the SPCAN Vetinary Hospital in Sifal. A vetinarian will be called and the cow will be cared for. Now you can relax, knowing you have done a deed that will have the gods eternally shining down their appreciation on your kind soul.
So that's how it's done, not a big deal really. But for Lakshmi who got caught on the wrong end of a water tanker the other day, it was a life-saving event.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Nepal has opened a shelter in Sifal where sick and injured animals are cared for by your donations.