The tragic news this week that Mount Sinabung’s ongoing eruptions claimed an additional sixteen human lives is a reminder how deadly and devastating natural disasters can be.
Dr. Naritsorn Pholperm approaches a cow in the danger zone around Mt. Sinabung. February 8, 2014 (Gembong Nusantara)
We were in Sinabung, Northern Sumatra, Indonesia earlier this month where we helped hundreds of animals living in the ash-covered wasteland surrounding the volcano. Sinabung recently came back to life after 400 years of inactivity and has been erupting nearly constantly (50-100 times a day) for several weeks.
When our team arrived, we discovered that local food sources were contaminated and unfit for animals to eat as they were coated with volcanic ash. Focusing our efforts on the most affected areas within 7 kilometres radius of the volcano, we helped by evacuating larger livestock and facilitating the evacuation of many more, helping approximately 750 animals. Now safe in designated evacuation areas, we will be providing these animals with emergency feed and will continue for up to 8 weeks.
Dr. Pholperm with one of the cows we evacuated to safer ground (Gembong Nusantara)
Some of the people living nearby explained that they had no way to move their larger animals so really appreciated the help. Thankfully, smaller livestock and other animals had mostly already evacuated or sold off.
We saw dogs (left behind for security or because evacuation centres could not accommodate them) and chickens that were starving and ran up to the team. We gave these animals food or help as we came across them and will continue to work there in the coming weeks to see how we can help all the animals caught up in this disaster.