Despite being designated as a permanent danger zone, the Volcano Island of Taal Lake actually is home to busy communities that are politically part of two lakeshore municipalities of Batangas. These neighborhoods brave the risk of volcanic eruption to farm on the fertile soil and fish at the center of the lake. They also keep livestock and other animals as is natural. But when Taal Volcano began its lengthy eruption last January 12, the evacuating residents were forced to leave their animals behind. Such a state was unacceptable to local members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and they have since taken action.
The Philippine Star has it that volunteers from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have braved the lake-bound Coast Guard patrols warding off travellers to the ash-covered Taal Volcano Island in order to liberate and transport animals trapped to fend for themselves after their owners were forced to flee from the current eruption. A statement from PETA this Friday, January 24, reports that thus far they have managed to rescue 132 live animals out of the heart of the disaster zone, but that these were the lucky ones compared to the many other now-dead and rotting creatures on the island at this point.
During the PETA animal rescue operation, they even ran into a familiar canine face in “Palakitik,” a household pet dog that PETA volunteers have met and cared for during their previous veterinary visits to Volcano Island. And as not all the surviving animals have been evacuated yet, PETA has also been leaving them supplies of fresh water and up to 150 total kilograms of food so that they do not starve after the ash-fall killed off all vegetation. Many rescued animals include dogs, cats, domestic fowl such as ducks and chickens as well as wild birds like herons and owls.
While PETA volunteers continue to transport trapped animals on the island of Taal Volcano, and caring for those still not moved, the organization also met with government officials of the two municipalities sharing Volcano Island. The immediate concern now is the logistics of how to rescue the larger livestock like cows and horses, especially as there are signs that volcanic activity in Taal might be intensifying again. All must quickly be removed from the 14-kilometer danger zone surrounding the lake.
Aside from Palakitik the dog, other notable animals rescued by the PETA effort include a horse named Princess, who unfortunately died after evacuation due to respiratory problems, and a baby owl found by police officers, named “Tala” after the Sarah Geronimo song that is currently linked to the erupting Taal.
Image courtesy of UNTV News