Taal volcano caught everybody by surprise. It erupted on an unassuming Sunday afternoon last January 12, 2020. Phivolcs immediately issued an Alert Level 4, indicating that "a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days,” prompting the provincial government of Batangas to evacuate everyone within the declared Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ).
Unfortunately for the animals, especially for the more than a thousand animals in the island volcano, they were not part of the rescue plan.
After three days, volcanic activity was still ongoing around Taal, with 466 earthquakes recorded and observed by Phivolcs but AKF still deployed volunteers to the hard-hit villages for feeding and first-aid treatment of the abandoned animals.
"These new strong, continuous earthquakes that we are now experiencing are due to fissuring, which means that there really is magma that is still making its way out of Taal," Mariton Bornas, chief of volcano monitoring and eruption at PHIVOLCS said on Tuesday.
Three weeks later, AKF and its Taal Emergency Animal Rescue (TEAR) team are still caring for the abandoned animals.
During a committee hearing at the Senate, AKF Program Director Atty. Heidi Marquez Caguioa, appealed that AKF and the other rescuers, “…have been pressing for the immediate rescue of the animals because they are the reason why communities keep coming back to the area."
Per the Batangas Provincial Veterinarian Office (PVO), there are more than a thousand animals abandoned in the volcano island. These are a mix of horses, cows, pigs and fowls.
AKF further argued that since the volcano island is declared as a no-man’s land by no less than the Phivolcs, there should not be any animals in the island. But trekkers to the volcano are allowed via the tourism program of the province and some hotels organize trips to the island therefore horses with guides exist in the volcano island.
Now that the volcano erupted, the animals were abandoned.
AKF is the main convenor of the TEAR and is the collaborator of the provincial veterinary office (PVO) of Batangas but the Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) of Batangas decides whether the animals should be retrieved or not. They issued a total lockdown of the PDZ's hence no groups or individuals were allowed to retrieve any animals.
AKF will lobby to the lawmakers for the inclusion of the animals in the agenda of the planned disaster management bureau. See also AKF’s online petition: (Change.Org)