Animals

‘Forgotten’ animals rescued after Semeru eruption – Archipelago

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Hail Halim (AFP)

Lumajang, East Java
Friday 17 December 2021

2021-12-17
10:47
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As rescuers comb the ash-covered landscapes for people after the eruption of Mount Semeru earlier this month, volunteers are searching for more vulnerable survivors: cats, cows and other animals.

The disaster killed 48 people, according to the latest toll, and rescuers are still searching for bodies in the mud and rubble.

With deadly ash ravaging villages in East Java’s Lumajang district, at least 767 cows died, 648 sheep were killed in pens and thousands of chickens were buried by the mudflow, according to authorities.

Satria Wardhana, along with a team of 15 volunteers from the Orangutan Conservation Centre, have so far rescued and treated 76 cows, dozens of goats and sheep, abandoned by villagers who fled the area.

“We only evacuated the animals that had two owners. For strays, if they get infected, we treat them immediately,” Satria said. France Press agency In Korah Kobokan, the village closest to the volcano.

The team evacuated two goats whose owners had died and burned the carcasses of goats to prevent the spread of disease.

“We also…feed the animals that survived, like chickens, dogs and cats,” said Satria, who works in COP’s disaster rescue department.

Live cows, goats, sheep and cats, veterinarian Diane Trisno Wikante said, had injuries such as burns to their ears and feet.

“Their ears are hairless because they burn easily. Many other animals also suffer from coughing,” she said.

“Some of them are nervous too, there are goats who have aborted. These animals…are dehydrated because it’s hot here.”

‘Usually left behind’

The vet also goes from house to house in some Lumajang villages, to check the condition of the affected animals.

At Sumber Mujur, Wikanti treated a cat trapped in rubble for four days, its paws engraved with lava.

Ryan, the cat’s owner, said he was glad his pet was able to get prompt medical treatment.

“I ran to save myself and didn’t have time to take the cat,” he said. “The medical team said she was traumatized, but she’s getting better now.”

And in the same village, volunteers treated two evacuated cows, applied burn ointment and injected vitamins.

For the team, saving animal lives is part of being human.

“Usually animals are abandoned because the main goal of rescue is people. That is why we are rescuing those who have been forgotten,” Wikante said.

Wardhana said rescuing the animals can also help reduce the trauma of survivors.

“Psychologically speaking, they will be more comfortable because their animals… also survived.”


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