‘You hear the calves cry until they die’ Drought Argentina is killing farm animals

Drought Argentina is killing farm animals
Farmer Gustavo Giailevra with pregnant cow dying from drought at his farm in Tostado, Santa Fe province, Argentina, February 9, 2023, credit: Reuters/Miguel Lo Bianco

The worst drought in 60 years is killing farm animals and wildlife in Argentina. Dust-dry fields, dried-up water reservoirs, and barren lands have left animals without water and food. 

While farmers struggle to keep their businesses running, their animals and the wildlife around them continue to suffer, with no end in sight.

Gustavo Giailevra, a farmer in Tostado in the north of Argentina, told news agency Reuters he lost almost 300 animals: “I lost mother cows that had been artificially inseminated with a lot of work. Not only did the cow die, but the calf died. It takes three, four, or five days for the calf to die. I live and sleep in the countryside with open windows, and you hear the calves cry until they die. It’s terrible.” 

While a Reuters journalist was visiting his farm, the 63-year-old farmer lifted the head of a pregnant cow lying in the heat to encourage her to drink. He didn’t think she would survive, but he wanted her to have a “decent death.”

The water reservoirs Giailevra had dug are all dried up, forcing him to bring what little water he can in by truck.

“We never thought that the drought would hit us so hard. It’s even worse knowing that 150 kilometres away, the Parana River pumps 23,000 cubic metres of fresh water per second, which is polluted. We don’t use it,” Giailevra added.

The drought is also having an impact on Argentina’s wildlife. The El Bonete lagoon in the nearby town of Vera has completely vanished, as have the animals that lived in and around it, something not seen in more than 40 years, locals said. 

The drought, which is also killing animals in MexicoChile, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, is caused by the La Niña weather system and worsened by climate change.

   

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