A trio of grazing cows in New Zealand found themselves stranded on a tiny pasture plateau after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake collapsed much of their meadow.
The so-called North Canterbury earthquake that struck the east coast of New Zealand's South Island just after midnight on November 14th was actually TWO quakes, estimated at magnitudes 7.5 and 7.8, that occurred nearly simultaneously.
The town and district of Kaikoura, located northeast of the earthquake's epicenter, suffered significant damage to both man-made infrastructure and the agricultural hinterland.
Our focus here is on the latter, specifically the lush pastures at the base of the scenic, snow-capped Kaikoura Ranges – a branch of the Southern Alps mountains – that are traditionally grazed by cattle and sheep.
This area was profoundly altered by the quake with landslides being shook loose from hillsides and meadows subsiding on a massive scale. There are roughly 10 million cattle in New Zealand, more than twice the number of people who live there.
Severe damage to State Highway 1 has prevented rescue workers from entering Kaikoura and about 1,000 people have no way of leaving their neighborhoods, except by foot. For the time being, helicopters operated by the country's military have been scouting out the damage. The video above, taken by Newshub news service from a helicopter, shows two adult cows and a calf marooned on a tiny “island” of pasture. It's not certain (at press time) who the cows belong to and, more importantly, whether they are part of a larger herd that may not have been so lucky.
While the plight of these becalmed bovines has moooved many, fear not for their future - the three cows have been rescued after a local farmer and some helpers dug a track to their island and brought them out, none the worse for wear besides being a tad thirsty. Got milk? (via Christian Science Monitor)