My name is Axel Kratel, I am the president of the board of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Puna. I've been actively involved with volunteer work on the 2018 Kilauea eruption, helping families evacuate and find housing. Once the lava started to impact local Puna farms, I got involved in farm animal rescues. I successfully helped several farms with evacuating their farm animals.
However, on Friday June 1st, the lava flow from fissure 8 came down Kapoho road and reached 4 corners, thus shutting off access to a large area of farm lots and residences. This is the area where we rescued Ginger, the lava cat. Unfortunately, a number of cows, goats, sheep, and pets including cats and dogs didn't make it out on time before civil defense closed highway 132. At this point, the only way in or out is via helicopter. This campaign is to raise the funds to fly in a specialized technical rescue team and to cover helicopter costs. KIA has incurred travel expenses, insurance and material costs. Paradise Helicopters has agreed to fly us in and while they are offering this for free we would like to offer them some compensation as well. KIA Hawaii, a company specializing in these kinds of rescues and that is normally contracted by DLNR to do ungulate removals in the State of Hawaii have volunteered their efforts. Please help us save the Kapoho farm animals trapped between the advancing lava fronts. Below is a video from the first rescue mission, which allowed us to fly out 2 cows, one calf, one bull and two sheep to safety. Since this mission took place, we also have flown a second mission where we rescued 14 cows out of the Pohoiki area.
We are working with Civil Defense, and we are also leveraging trained professionals who are certified and trained to perform such rescues. We know of at least 10 confirmed cows still trapped, so we will try to fly one final mission. Unfortunately, there has been so much shaming of animal owners going on that many will not come forward to provide information about the location of their animals. We have approval from several farm owners to retrieve their cows and other animals. While we will focus on approved animals, it's likely that all animals we find shall be evacuated as well.
Evacuated animals will be sheltered with the numerous volunteers that have graciously offered their farms as refuge.
Update: we have flown two missions for a total of 12 hours of helicopter time. KIA has had their crews on the ground and in the helicopter for both missions. We will be flying one final mission. In order to keep costs down, the Puna Unitarian Fellowship has offered to provide a free of charge financial pass through to get KIA Hawaii and Paradise Helicopters paid. The fellowship sees this as another project to help the Puna community. At this point since we have flown so many hours we think there will not be anything left over after we pay for the helicopter time and we pay KIA. If anything is left, it will go to animal feed and vaccine/disease control for the removed animals. If the campaign raises more money, the rest will go to the Hawaii Island Humane Society.
Please note that GoFundMe so far has blocked all transfer of money, so we do not have access to any funds and neither KIA Hawaii nor Paradise Helicopters have been paid.