Animal Lovers Bandy Together to Save Merapi Wildlife
The Bali Times looks at frantic efforts to care for animals affected by Mt Merapi’s deadly activity
Three animal-welfare groups are scrambling to protect the lives of wildlife and domestic animals living on the slopes of erupting Mt Merapi just outside Yogyakarta in Central Java.
Lava and super-hot pyroclastic flows of gas and ash have been pouring from the 2,914-meter-high landmark since Tuesday last week, when 34 people were killed by the emissions. Around 50,000 residents have been forced from their homes as volcanologists warned that eruptions of the country’s most active volcano could continue for months.
The ash-covered landscape is also the habitat to an assortment of animals, including monkeys, birds and livestock such as cows. In this rural community, many farmers have had to leave their cattle behind as they fled the rumbling Mountain of Fire, as its name translates, and some have been unable to return as officials have cordoned off access roads for public safety.
The Merapi Animal Care Group is the merger of efforts of Animal Friends Jogja, Jakarta Animal Aid Network and the Centre for Orangutan Protection. It began its work of saving creatures on the mountain just as authorities put the volcano on the highest alert, on October 24, just two days before last Tuesday’s deadly eruption.
The group’s coordinator, Daniek Hendarto, said he reached out for public support via social media such as Facebook.
“We began by posting information about planned activities and requests for volunteers, supplies and donations in the event of a disaster, on internet social networks used to communicate with the community.”
He said preparation allowed the group to operate straight away once Mt Merapi burst into life.
“We were very fortunate that when the first eruption occurred we were immediately ready to act due to the preparations made in previous days, and because the first team was on location surveying the area when the pyroclastic flow came down.”
Surveys of mountain-dwelling beasts are being carried out in coordination with the local livestock department and animal health clinics in the area. After last week’s violent eruption, the group wanted to know what animals had been left stranded at farms; if any creatures had been injured in the volcanic blasts; and if there were any starving animals that had to be fed.
Villages in the districts of Kali Adem and Kinahrejo were the worst affected by Mt Merapi’s fury, they found. Feed including grass is being dispatched daily to farms via three pick-up trucks, so that livestock can be kept alive.
Searches are being carried out for domestic animals such as dogs, cats and birds, as well as monkeys kept as pets. Injured creatures are receiving medical care.
A growing number of volunteers is helping out with the animal-aid effort, including the bassist with popular Yogyakarta band Shaggydog, which publicly supports animal welfare.
But more help is needed, says Hendarto. “The Merapi volcano is part of Yogyakarta community life and we have to help not only the people but the animals as well. So I call on Yogyakarta citizens to get together and help the people and the animals of Merapi.”
Cash is also needed, so that feed can be purchased for the animals. To help, contact Monique Van der Harst of Animal Friends Jogja at 0818 04115214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Filed under: LIFE