Severe drought is killing horses, cows and sheep in Kazakhstan

Severe drought is killing horses, cows and sheep in the Mangystau region of Kazakhstan. Unusually high temperatures have been reported throughout the country, which left animals without food or water.

Horses have nothing to graze on, and prices of hay and barley have skyrocketed. Some farmers cut wet cardboard into pieces to mix with feed for extra volume.

Gabidolla Kalynbayuly, 70, has a horse farm in Akshymyrau, a village of about 1,300 people. Twenty of Kalynbayuly’s horses have already died this summer, reducing his herd to 150. Most of his animals are weakened by malnutrition, making them vulnerable to parasites and illness.

“When they die out there in the field, we cannot even bring them back to the village to report the death,” Kalynbayuly said.

Grazing in the area had been little for the last three years, he said, but there was still enough grass for horses to eat until this year’s extreme heat.

At the end of May, animal rights activist Berdimurat Torekenov posted pictures on Facebook of emaciated horses, asking the government to step in to help farmers feed their animals.

On July 15, agriculture Minister Yerbol Karashukeev went to Mangystau and promised local farmers financial support and food to be sent to them. It’s unknown if the farmers received it.

“If the authorities gave me a truckload of water a day or at least once two or three days, I would be able to take care of the animals,”Kalynbayuly said.

A Reuters reporter saw dozens of dead horses during a trip through the area. Horses who were still alive were emaciated, with their ribs clearly visible. More than 1,000 horses, cows and sheep have been reported dead in the area.

Svetlana Dolgikh, the head of climate studies at state weather forecaster Kazgidromet, said average temperatures in Kazakhstan were rising by 0.3 degrees Celsius every decade.

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