Animals suffer as volcano relentlessly erupts on Vanuatu island

30 January 2018

Our disaster response team has rushed to Ambae Island in Vanuatu, east of Australia. Tens of thousands of pets and farm animals are afraid, and facing death and illness due to an endlessly erupting volcano and descending volcanic ash. They’re in dire need of our help

Ambae Volcano, on Vanuatu’s Ambae Island, suddenly started erupting in September 2017 and hasn’t stopped since. Animals on the island are suffering from injury, malnutrition, and dehydration. Sadly, many have already died as a result of the ongoing disaster.

We’re currently on Ambae Island, working with the Vanuatu government as quickly as possible to help animals recover.

Emergency care

As part of our emergency response, we’re giving five-gallon buckets to families who’ve returned to the island after evacuating in September. These buckets will help them quench the severe thirst of their farm animals and pets.

We’re also providing antibiotics for sick animals, and treatment to disinfect their wounds.

In total, we’re helping around 38,000 animals who’ve been affected by the volcanic eruptions, including cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, cats, and dogs.

Pigs eating in Vanuatu

Volcanic ash lingers eerily over Ambae island, settling on villages and fields. If animals ingest this ash, it could cause them serious stomach illnesses and respiratory problems.

'Like thunder coming from the ground’

We met a local man called Mr Lamarsdel Lolo, who lives in the village of Lolowai, East Ambae.

Mr Lamarsdel said that when the volcano first started erupting in September, he had never heard anything like it before. His friend Mr Ambrose Garae described it as ‘thunder, but coming from the ground’.

Mr Lamarsdel owns one dog, one cow, two cats, and thirty chickens. When the eruptions started, he could see that his animals were afraid. Sadly, when he and Ambae Island’s 11,500 residents were ordered to evacuate to a neighbouring island, he had to leave his animals behind.

Mr Lamarsdel with one of his cats

He became emotional when he told us about having to leave his animals. He sees them as part of his family and culture.

Working fast and looking forward

As governments and humanitarian organisations understandably scramble to protect people, animals often become the forgotten victims of natural disasters around the world.

We know how critical it is that animals recover from disasters. Animals of course need to be free from suffering – but also, many people rely on their animals and need them to stay safe.

Keep an eye out for updates as we continue to care for Vanuatu’s vulnerable animals.

Animals on the island are suffering from injury, malnutrition, and dehydration.

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