Peta pleads for rescue of animals still on Taal volcano island
An international animal rights group has appealed to the Batangas provincial government to take advantage of the lowered alert status of Taal Volcano to launch a rescue operation for the remaining animals in the Volcano Island, which volcanologists said should remain a no man’s land.
In a letter addressed to Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) expressed their willingness to assist in the evacuation of horses, dogs, cats and other animals that were left behind after residents were forced to flee from the rumbling volcano two weeks ago.
“PETA Asia has been the only agency delivering food and fresh water to the island since the eruption, in addition to rescuing more than 200 animals and taking them off the island,” Jason Baker, the group’s senior vice president of international campaigns, said on Sunday.
“However, many still remain, frightened and dying of thirst and hunger,” he added.
It is of “utmost urgency,” Baker said, that government teams be dispatched with large boats to evacuate the remaining animals.
PETA Asia said it had widespread and firsthand knowledge of the area, since it held regular clinics in Taal for two years and had tended to all horses in the island.
“Terrified survivors are surrounded by the dead bodies of fellow animals, breathing in toxic air and growing sicker and weaker by the hour,” Baker said, adding that there was “not a minute to waste” in the rescue operation.
Several pets and farm animals were left behind after residents in the Volcano Island and within the 14-kilometer (km) danger zone fled from their homes when Taal rocked to life on Jan. 12.
Many living in “pulo,” the local name for Taal island, were forced to leave their animals behind since they could not be ferried in their small boats across the lake and towards the mainland.
But a number of animal owners also defied the government’s lockdown order and went back to their homes to check on their pets.
Animal welfare groups, such as Peta and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, had stepped in and conducted their own rescue operations, evacuating several animals while bringing food and water to others.
Peta said their response team has rescued 132 animals from the danger zone since the eruption.
Aside from livestock, horses are among the main sources of livelihood in Taal. Tourists often pay locals for a horse ride up to the crater rim viewpoint, which offered picturesque views of the volcano.
Volcanologists lowered the alert level from 4 to 3 in Taal on Sunday, after they had observed a downtrend in its activity.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology also recommended the reduction of the danger zone from 14 to 7 km, particularly in the communities west of the volcano island, prompting the local governments to allow some evacuees outside the new high-risk zone to return to their homes.
Taal’s weakened activity continued on Monday, belching weak to moderate steam plumes reaching 50 to 800 m high. The Taal Volcano Network detected 170 volcanic quakes, including four low-frequency ones, significantly less than the previous days. INQ
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