Volcano taxes Indonesian rescuers

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2010:
(Actual press date November 3.)
YOGYAKARTA–“Animal conditions are really bad and sad,”
e-mailed Rosek Nurashid of ProFauna on October 31, 2010 from the
shadows of Mount Merapi, Indonesia, hours before it erupted for the
third of five times in a week. Each new blast made the already
catastrophic situation worse.
“Many cows are hungry and dying,” Nurashid wrote. “ProFauna
is trying to provide food and medicine. It’s hard to find grass,
because almost all the grass around Merapi is covered by dust, so
our team is looking for the grass from other regions.”

Similar reports came from Mary Lee Stenson of the Jakarta
Animal Aid Network, the first outside animal welfare organization to
reach the Mount Merapi region. Asked for help on October 27 by
Animal Friends Jogja, of Yogyakarta, a city of nearly 400,000
people sprawling below the volcano, JAAN and Center for Orangutan
Protection volunteers “pooled their own money to join the rescue
team,” Stenson said.
Their two-vehicle convoy rescued an eagle from a wildlife
trafficker on their way to the scene. On arrival, Stenson wrote,
“Volunteers swept a deserted village and found chickens, caged
birds, rabbits, dogs and cats. The dogs were wandering around
hungry and completely covered with ashes.
“The last time Merapi erupted, in 2006,” Stenson recalled,
“there were two weeks for people to start evacuation and relocation,”
before the actual eruption. This time, Stenson said, “Only 24
hours after the first alert, the volcano spat hot ash. Many of the
3,000 cows on the slopes of the mountain were burned alive.
Thirty-six people were killed.”
Two more people died later. The Indonesian National Disaster
Mitigation Agency told Reuters that 69,533 people were evacuated.
Most could not take their animals.
The toll from the disaster also included at least 431 human
deaths from a tsunami that struck the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra,
triggered by the same earthquake that apparently awakened Merapi.
Five days after the tsunami another 88 people were still unaccounted
for. No information was available about animal casualties.
Back at Merapi, JAAN on October 29 “visited the tourist area
where many macaque monkeys live,” Stenson said, “but the team found
only extremely dry tree tops and heard the occasional loud cracking
of falling branches. Eerily, there were no sounds of life. The
team left food behind for the macaques in case they returned.”
ProFauna the same day found half a dozen troupes of starving
macaques at Ngargomulyo village in Magelang district. At another
village, Kaliurang, they found leopard tracks. Somehow both the
macaques and the leopards had survived, but had begun raiding
abandoned houses in search of food.
By October 31 the macaques JAAN sought reappeared. Both JAAN
and ProFauna focused on trying to prevent conflict between the
wildlife and displaced humans. “The macaques seemed in reasonable
condition,” wrote Stenson, “and fortunately the team could not spot
any wounds from burning. The team will feed them daily,” Stenson
Meanwhile, Stenson said, “Farmers are stopping our trucks,
shouting for help for their livestock.” Feeding the numbers of
cattle in the vicinity required more help than JAAN and ProFauna
could even begin to provide.
“The eruption may slow the regency’s target to become a cow
breeding hub,” understated Slamet Susanto of the Jakarta Post.
“Some 32,000 out of 52,000 heads of cattle in the regency are
breeding cows,” Susanto explained, “who annually produce more than
14,000 calves. Based on Bantul Agriculture, Fishery & Animal
Husbandry data,” Susanto said, “about 80% of the cattle breeders
sell calves aged between three and five months to feedlots.”


Jakarta Animal Aid: Jalan Kemang Timur Raya #17A, South
Jakarta, 12730, Indonesia; 62-21-7802556;
<info@jakartaanimalaid.com>; <www.jakartaanimalaid.com>.

ProFauna Indonesia: Jl. Raya Candi II #179, Klaseman,
Karangbesuki, Malang, Indonesia 65146; 62-341-7066769; fax
62-341-569506; <inter-national@profauna.org>; <www.profauna.org>.

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