The Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador’s Sangay National Park has showered the local region with ash, contaminating water, crops and animal feed. A WSPA disaster management team is working with member society Proteccion Animal Ecuador (PAE) to prevent animal suffering and sustain local livelihoods.
Volcanic activity slowly increased in January 2008, mirroring the behaviour of Tungurahua prior to the violent eruption of 2006. While that level of devastation has not yet been repeated, the ash pollution has already killed animals and many others are suffering.
In rural Ecuador, animals provide transport, livelihoods and food as well as the companionship that domestic animals give the world over. In an area like this, maintaining a healthy animal population during emergency situations contributes to the recovery of local communities.
Assessing the scale of need
WSPA’s team arrived on 14 January to make an assessment of animal welfare needs and make contact with local authorities and PAE. WSPA’s South America Regional Director, Luis Carlos Sarmiento, and WSPA Veterinary Officer, Diego Hernandez, visited an affected area accompanied by a Province Council Technical Advisor.
They estimated that 13,000 or more animals were in the vicinity of the volcano, many of which could be affected by the falling ash. WSPA’s team saw cases of respiratory disease as well as illnesses caused by the contamination; local people reported cattle being burned by hot rocks.
Working on the ground
WSPA and PAE are currently delivering and distributing feed, veterinary supplies, antibiotics, vitamins, pain killers and other animal medicines to the affected area with the support of local government.
These will feed or treat:
- Over 1,000 cattle
- 100 horses and donkeys
- More than 550 pigs
- 70 sheep
- 20 llamas
- 1,000 dogs
- 500 cats
1,000 guinea pigs (which are raised for food in Ecuador).
Additionally, WSPA’s assessment team identified a census of affected animals and families as a priority for local authorities to monitor further need.