Hundreds of buffalos die of hunger at farm, owner denies abandoning them

A buffali is pulled up by a crane while being treated
Volunteers treat a malnourished buffalo in a farm, Sao Paulo state, Brazil December 1, 2021, photo: Reuters/Amanda Perobelli

Veterinarians and volunteers found 500 dead buffalos and hundreds of emaciated animals at a dairy farm in Brazil, news agency Reuters reported. Police said the owner abandoned the animals.

Last month, environmental police in the town of Brotas responded to reports of malnourished animals on a farm.

There were 1056 animals at the farm. When officers arrived, only 667 were still alive in a locked up area, according to a copy of the police report seen by Reuters.

“I arrived here, it was a war scene,” said veterinarian Maurice Vidal who takes care of the animals with his team. “There were many animals, many animals extremely weakened. We think almost five hundred animals [died].”

“It’s very sad, very sad to see a lot of heads [of dead animals]. For me, being around them like this, it kills me. Watching them die like this, it’s very sad,” Vidal said.

On Wednesday, the farm’s owner, Luiz Augusto Pinheiro de Souza, told Brazilian news station Globo TV that he did not abandon the animals.

He said that the cows were skinny because they were old, and that they died naturally, not from hunger. According to him, there was enough food and water for the animals. He added that it would be unlogical for him to let them die when he could slaughter them and sell their meat.

Police gave Souza a fine of more than 2 million reais ($360,000) for environmental violations.

Larissa Maluf from the Brazilian Vegetarian Society said the farm owner leased part of his land to grow soybeans, reducing the animals’ food supply.

“The owner of the farm decided to lease [land] to soybeans, and with that, he was leaving the space for these animals smaller and smaller. We don’t see any vegetation here [for the buffalos to graze,” Maluf told Reuters. She said the animal started eating trees out of desperation.

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