An interview with World Animal Day Ambassador, Khageshwaar Sharma (Nepal)

Khageshwaar Sharma is a long-serving Ambassador with 15 years experience. He has dedicated his career to working with animal organisations for over 20 years and is a vital part of the Himalayan Animal Rescue Trust (HART), based in Pokhara and Bharatpur in Nepal.


Teach us a little bit about HART…

“HART has been carrying out neutering and vaccination programs since May 2010.

Apart from its regular neutering work at its bases, we also travel to many parts of the country (mainly eastern region) where no animal welfare exists to conduct neutering programs.

The purpose of these annual neutering camps is to replace the use of strychnine by local authorities to manage animal populations.

Although the local authorities have stopped the strychnine campaigns there is no humane solution to the continuing street dog problem. The aim has been to return to help the animals in these areas at least once a year.”

What challenges do you face in day-to-day work?

“Rabies and dog population have been neglected, and there are no official regulations in place to address the problems. Non-governmental organisations are working tirelessly to bring changes, but unless protocols are developed by the government it makes the work impossible for the organizations.

Moreso, there are no strict laws on animal welfare and organisations could only approach these concerns on an individual capacity. Having said this, there are now a good number of animal welfare organizations in the country and lobbying is done with force.”

Has COVID-19 caused any specific problems?

“The animal birth control program was halted for a couple of months. Also a pass was required to drive to animals in need because veterinary work isn’t recognised as an emergency service by the government of Nepal. Luckily, HART’s vets were able to provide advice and assistance where needed.”

How can the public help?

“By pressurizing the government who are the responsible authorities to address the dog population and rabies management. They can also help us by getting directly involved in animal rescue.”

And how do you plan on marking World Animal Day 2020?

“Nepal is going through a difficult time. Being a developing country, it is more challenging for both the government and citizens of Nepal to combat COVID-19.

We plan to use social media to interact with veterinary students and the general public who are interested in learning more about animal health. HART resident vets will be available online to answer queries.

There are several programs that we’ll follow-up on when the situation improves, such as anti-rabies vaccination campaigns in rural areas where no vets are available. We’ll also educate people on neutering rather than dumping unwanted litters in the forest or rivers, which is still a practice in many parts of the country.”

How does the celebration of World Animal Day assist you in your work?

“We’re able to use World Animal Day as a platform to share our knowledge and improve the lives of animals of Nepal.

Despite there being no strict animal welfare laws in the country — institutions, groups and individuals are working towards their own goals. It’s encouraging to observe the government, groups, and individuals commemorating World Animal Day together.

World Animal Day helps us to raise awareness about animal welfare and teach others that we should always be compassionate towards animals.”

 

Read more about HART's work in Nepal.