A magnitude 7.8 earthquake shook New Zealand early Monday near Canterbury, causing landslides that left thousands of residents stranded. Some of those residents are of the bovine variety, making them particularly vulnerable and uniquely in need of assistance. They received it Monday when rescuers successfully recovered three cows left stranded on a small plateau of land created by landslides on the coast north of Kaikoura. After the quake killed two people and caused thousands of destructive aftershocks, the bovine rescue offers hope to those still looking for missing loved ones.
Local reports say rescuing the stranded cows was not an easy task. Their owner reported that the rescue was delayed due to multiple aftershocks and the difficulty in reaching the cows’ location, due to soft soil. “We dug a track with a number of people; the soil was quite soft because it had all been tipped over and bumbled around, we managed to get a track in and bring them out,” the unnamed farmer told New Zealand’s Newshub. “They desperately needed water, cows don’t like living without water so that was the first requirement, and I think one or two had lost calves in the earthquake so they were a bit distressed.”
The 7.8 earthquake hit near the small tourist town of Kaikoura just after midnight on Monday. The town, with a population of just 3,500 residents, is now isolated from the rest of the country due to as many as 100,000 landslides. Flooding and additional aftershocks continue to plague the area as rescue and recovery efforts are underway, despite dangerous conditions.
In addition to the three cows rescued in the video above, the farmer reported that 14 other cows were also rescued after the earthquake. He said some livestock had been killed during the disaster, though the numbers were small. The stranded cows belong to a herd raised for beef, so the life-saving efforts of their rescuers will not ensure them a long and happy life, but instead return them to their original fate.