It was during a period of voluntary work in India that British vet Luke Gamble experienced at first hand the misery caused by rabies and the painful consequences of the disease.
In India today, rabies – a disease spread largely by the country’s stray dogs – accounts for the death of one child every hour. In 2003, Gamble’s experience inspired him to set up the Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS), an international veterinary aid organisation, with the specific objective of controlling the disease and protecting both children and dogs. Gamble is honorary chief executive of WVS; as well as carrying out the necessary veterinary work, he is also involved in securing sponsors for its social and humanitarian activities. In addition, Gamble also works for other international animal welfare organisations, including the Animal Welfare Board of India.
This year his involvement is set to reach a new and unusual highpoint. In September, with the support of Indian animal conservationists, Luke Gamble will set off on a journey covering well over 2500 km across India in a self-sufficient mobile rescue unit, built on the triple-axle, all-wheel-drive, 9.5-metre-long Mercedes-Benz Zetros 2733 A (6×6). The power source of the 27-tonne colossus, which was designed and developed principally for heavy-duty off-road use, is the Mercedes-Benz- OM 926 LA engine, an in-line, 6-cylinder unit developing 240 kW (326 hp) and boasting Euro V compliance and a 9-speed transmission (8 + crawler gear). The expedition will take Gamble and his team of helpers from the town of Ooty, 2250 m up in the mountains of Tamil Nadu in the continent’s southwest, to the megacity of Calcutta (West Bengal) in the far northeast of India.
Mission Rabies: saving children and dogs
The goal and purpose of the “Mission Rabies” expedition is to vaccinate up to 50,000 dogs against rabies during the course of the 30-day campaign. The team will visit all accessible Indian rabies centres on the journey from Ooty to Calcutta. Working in collaboration with local animal welfare organisations, veterinary colleges, government officials and various teams of international veterinary service volunteers, they will carry out the appropriate measures to control rabies (e.g. vaccination, castration). On completing the 30-day mission, the Mercedes-Benz Zetros will return to each of the centres visited along its outward route and remain at each one for a month. During this period, the Indian Animal Welfare Organisation will use this fully mobile and fully equipped veterinary clinic to conduct training programmes in rabies control for Indian vets and veterinary nurses. It is hoped that over the next three years a total of two million dogs in areas throughout the sub-continent with a high prevalence of rabies will be vaccinated and treated, with the aim of stemming the spread of the disease once and for all.
Thanks to the world’s first unique and fully mobile veterinary clinic mounted on the Mercedes-Benz Zetros, life-saving assistance for people and village communities in remote areas can be brought exactly where it is needed. The animal clinic on wheels boasts a full range of medical equipment, including operating theatre, dental surgery, medicine cabinets, refrigeration, seating area, sanitary facilities, hutches and an on-board electricity supply. In addition, it has also been designed for use with training and awareness campaigns. WVS and Luke Gamble chose the Zetros for their project on account of it having the most suitable chassis. The entire vehicle concept was developed in the United Kingdom on a design created by WVS and realised by the body specialists VIPEX based at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. The Zetros-based rescue unit with its appealing design is not just the flagship of the WVS campaign; it also provides a visual illustration of the humanitarian message of rabies control and the preventive measures being undertaken.
Source: Daimler AG