Inside the caldera of Volcan Pico do Fogo. The surrounding landscape was fertile famrland and home to thousands of animals and people. The eruption that began on November third has displaced them and obliterated two villages. ©World Animal Protection 2014
In the early morning hours of Sunday, November 23rd, 2014, Augusto Pires 60 and his son Augustino 30 were asleep. Their home and farm were located in the fertile plains within the caldera of Pico do Fogo, a large volcano in Cabo Verde.
Suddenly, near 3 A.M. the volcano burst to life for the first time in nearly twenty years. Lava flows began slowly surging forward while the ground shook, shockwaves reverbrated through the air and superheated gas rose rapidly from a newly opened volcanic vent in the shadow of the main peak.
After weeks of steady build up, the terrible moment had arrived. Releasing their 35 goats and accompanied by the family dogs, they evacuated along with 1,300 other people and their animals, displaced over a period of weeks by advancing lava flows.
When we met Augusto and Augustino two weeks later, they were struggling to keep their flock of goats and their dogs healthy. The day was hot and extremely dry and our pickup truck kicked up a long trail of ash and dust as we made our way to communities across Fogo Island.
Many of their goats – all females – were suffering horribly advanced cases of udder infections known as mastitis. A three-year-old named Faisca had just given birth that morning to two kids. She delivered a stillborn male and a healthy, frisky female black and white goat only 6 hours old.
Dr. Sergio Vasquez got to work immediately, assisted by Gerardo Huertas and James Sawyer. Administering antibiotics, deworming medications and vitamins to Faisca and any others showing signs of illness.
The animals were living in a hot, arid location, far from their normal home. Grasses and food was hard to come by in the drought ravaged rocky soil.
My attention turned to the tiny newborn, shakily taking her first steps. Her mother could not feed her and I asked Augustino how was she feeding. He said other females were giving her milk. He thanked us for helping Faisca as once back to health, she’ll be able to resume care for her baby.
In a show of gratitude, Augustino and Augusto readily named the kid “Serghina” after the man who came to her mother's rescue.