Rescuer Award for the mules of Pakistan

At the Red Cross, we have Rescuer Awards that are given to those who go above and beyond to rescue someone in an emergency. I’d like to give one of those awards to the mules of Pakistan!

In Pakistan, there are entire communities that remain virtually cut off from the rest of the country since the floods swept down from the mountains. All the bridges in the area have been destroyed and no other NGOs are delivering relief in the area.

The only way to reach the affected areas is by foot. But trying to get food and supplies to 25,000 people scattered in small settlements throughout these valleys is not as easy task.

The solution?  Mules.

“Today we sent a week’s rations by mule train to Olander village for 120 families. It’s a ten-hour return trip and in the coming days we’ll be doing the same for other villages,” said Atta Muhammad, the Red Cross project officer responsible for leading a team of volunteers and mules into the mountains.

It’s not the first time mules have helped rescue people in Pakistan. In 2005, when an earthquake devastated parts of the country, transportation by mules was the only way to reach people stranded high in the mountains.

The BBC reported that the Pakistan army keeps thousands of mules as part of its ATU (animal transport unit). The army mules have their own doctors and special parades are thrown in their honour.

So what’s all the fuss about mules? 

“Literally, they go where no man or machine can,” said one Pakistani army official.

The mules can walk for 7-8 hours straight in the mountains, where oxygen levels change and hinder a human’s ability to move swiftly. And, a fully loaded mule can carry up to 72kg and walk 26km without resting.

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