left corner left corner
China Daily Website  

Livestock dies due to drought

Updated: 2015-11-17 07:56
By Agence France-Presse in Molatedi, South Africa (China Daily)

In the middle of a desiccated lake bed in South Africa's North West province, a seven-month-old calf is too weak to get up. It is doomed to die from thirst and hunger.

A devastating drought is claiming thousands of livestock in Africa's most developed economy and prompting many to fear famine.

A few kilometers away in the district of Madikwe, 30 villagers join Josephine Motsoasele, a traditional healer leading prayers for rain.

In a trance-like manner, farmers draped in colorful traditional clothes sing and pray in local vernacular Setswana for the heavens to open up.

"God, give us rain because we have a big problem," Motsoasele prays, fearing widespread starvation. "We can't do anything."

It is not yet noon, but the room temperature has already breached 40 C.

The drought, blamed on the global cyclical extreme weather system El Nino, is the country's worst since 1982.

Located near the border with Botswana, the Molatedi dam is the largest in the province of 3.7 million people. It is now only five percent full.

On the cracked earth, hundreds of cattle wander in search of the last drinking hole or that rare blade of grass.

A drying carcass of a cow lies on the parched ground, carved up by vultures.

According to meat producers, tens of thousands of cattle have died or are being culled due to the drought.

"There's lots of animals dying on the farms," said Lardus van Zyl, chairman of the Red Meat Producers Organization.

Farmers are now auctioning their stocks before they die on their own and nearly a third more animals are being butchered compared to the same time last year, "mainly because of the drought", van Zyl said.

Farmer Molemi Modise wrings a handful of dry grass. "It's so bad when it's get dry like this, even if the cattle feeds from this, it's useless."

"If we don't get rain now I can assure you our people are going to die."

Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana warns of a "regional disaster" if the drought persists.

  • Group a building block for Africa

    An unusually heavy downpour hit Durban for two days before the BRICS summit's debut on African soil, but interest for a better platform for emerging markets were still sparked at the summit.