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Dedication for Animal Victims

ProFauna's disaster relief team evacuating animal victims of Merapi volcano

ProFauna's disaster relief team evacuating animal victims of Merapi volcano

It was cloudy and some groups of people were busy preparing for something while wearing masks. When the earliest cock was crowing, other groups were already on the move and had put on "war apparels and accessories" like masks, boots, goggles and cattle packs. Some laughter was overheard in the middle of the dangerous moment when those people spent time for volunteering to respond Merapi Volcano Eruption and help the animal victims. They were ProFauna's disaster relief team.

Once Merapi erupted on October 26, 2010, ProFauna team immediately drove to Yogyakarta to help animals affected by the eruption. The team on the headquarter updated the status on its FaceBook's account saying "Volunteers are needed to help animal victims of the Merapi Volcano eruption." Within minutes, dozens of people replied directly to expressing their willingness to go to Yogyakarta to join the disaster relief team. ProFauna's local volunteers called Supporters from different regions sent messages though email, mobile phone and FaceBook messaging in similar tone "We are ready to help the animal victims!".

The high interest of ProFauna's Supporters made the team at the headquarter select the volunteers. The main requirements to become ProFauna's volunteer are be brave, honest, hard worker and ready to die. The last requirement is absolute because the status of Merapi was not stable that the volcano could erupt at anytime. The team would not risk anyone who were cowards.

When the ProFauna's disaster relief team arrived at Yogyakarta, the scenery was devastating. Thousands of houses were swept away by the hot clouds and eruption materials of the volcano. Hundreds of people passed away, not to mention thousands of farm and wild animals were affected. Many cows were in pain because their skins burnt by the hot clouds. Hundreds of goats were groaning of hunger. Hundreds of monkeys had no where to look for food because the forest habitats were covered by thick dust. Hundreds of livestock animals died and needed to be immediately buried to prevent infectious diseases to humans. Some endangered big cat like the leopard cat went down the village to avoid the eruption.

A day after the eruption, ProFauna team worked hard, starting from dawn to afternoon. While in other part of the nation people may still be sleeping, ProFauna team had to leave the base to evacuate many livestock animals, feed and treat them. It was actually a dangerous job as the hot clouds may attack at anytime.

Working in this dangerous zones needs high dedication and strong courage. During evacuation process the volcano erupted again at the largest scale within one past century on November 5th 2010. ProFauna's base was burnt by the hot clouds. Luckily, all of the team members were safe. If only they had not gone from the house base early at dawn, there would have been another story.

I was so relieved when received a text message from the disaster relief team, "We are all safe from the last eruption and now ready to evacuate more livestock animals." ProFauna was the only disaster relief team for animals which was allowed to enter some "red zones" to evacuate wildlife. Thanks to the good coordination with related authorities from village officials, livestock department, to Special Force of Army, more livestock and wild animals could be saved in time.

A disaster sometimes can bring all people together for good things. ProFauna is grateful for its volunteers to help the animals. However, we are also thankful to other organisations like livestock department, regional government agencies, the National Park of Merapi Volcano Office, Army, Red Cross, some university student organisations, donors and other humanitarian volunteer groups. In helping the animals, sometime ProFauna team were helped by other humanitarian groups and vice versa as the team also helped human victims. The team also shared the house base with other humanitarian and volunteering groups.

ProFauna's hard work in helping the animal victims impressed other groups, especially the humanitarian volunteers. A humanitarian volunteer said, "I salute ProFauna team, they were all dedicated in helping animals." Furthermore, several other humanitarian volunteers were so impressed that they helped ProFauna's team to help the animal victims in the middle of their duties to help human victims.

Personally, I am amazed myself by the team and admire their dedication. It reminded me of the Noah's ark story. Despite being myth, I do believe that in the pre-historic time, some people helped the animals not to mention during disaster. To me, the team members, volunteers, and other people involved in helping the animal victims of Merapi Volcano eruption deserve to be entitled "the nowadays Noah". Thank you for your dedication!

(Rosek Nursahid, Pendiri ProFauna, email: rosek@profauna.org)