The Department of Agriculture (DA) is readying a program that would save animals yet to be rescued in areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), DA Region 4-A (Calabarzon) executive director Arnel de Mesa said the DA is aware that some animals have yet to be rescued within the volcano’s 14-kilometer danger zone due to the total lockdown in the area.
“Lalo na kung ipinagbabawal ng NDRRMC at ng mga pulis na pumunta ngayon, kasi anytime, kung talagang alert level 4, puwede pumutok ang bulkan (Especially if the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the police prohibit going there, because anytime, if it’s alert level 4, the volcano could erupt),” de Mesa said.
He added that animal rescues have been done earlier, in coordination with local government units (LGUs) and other concerned groups, saving as many livestock animals– carabaos, cows, horses– as they can.
“Mayroong natitira lang talaga dahil sa ang iba sa kanila ay lumayo, natakot nung sumabog ang bulkan, at nasa island na sila ngayon. (Some animals were left behind because they separated or have strayed from their herd, they got scared when the volcano erupted and they’re in the island now),” de Mesa said.
“Doon sa 14-kilometer (danger) zone, ay delikado, what more doon sa island at kahit pagsakay sa bangka papunta sa island ay ipinagbabawal din kaya medyo mahirap gumawa ng rescue (It’s dangerous within the 14-kilometer danger zone, what more in the island. Riding boats to the island is prohibited so it’s hard to conduct a rescue). But we will coordinate with the local government units for the animal rescue if the prohibition is lifted because the LGUs are the main responders and DA is just second responder,” he added.
To ensure that the rescued animals are cared for and not sold or slaughtered, de Mesa said DA Secretary William Dar created a program that would provide temporary shelters for them and cash assistance to their owners.
Earlier, the DA has set up the Taal Livestock Care Emergency Operations Center at the Southern Tagalog Integrated Agricultural Research Center (STIARC), in Lipa City that houses 70 animals — carabao, cattle, horses and small ruminants. Free feeds, biologics, vitamins and other veterinary supplies are available in the center. (PNA)