20K animals dead in east Colombia drought

Drought in eastern Cololmbia is killing thousands of animals and causing state government to contemplate an environmental emergency.

A harsh drought in the Casanare state has become so intense that the state’s governor is expected to declare an environmental emergency after meeting with state legal advisors Friday morning, said a statement from the Casanare’s government.

The sparsely populated state of Casanare is located east of Colombia’s capital Bogota after descending several thousand feet onto sprawling plains. With only 330,000 residents the land is very rich in biodiversity and provides prime real estate for grazing cattle.

Cattle and wild fauna like caiman, fish, turtles, other reptiles and capybara, are perishing in thousands due to dehydration. Photos of the environmental disaster show hundreds of animals, wild and domestic, competing for small pools of water.

State governor, Marco Tulio Ruiz, is reportedly pursuing measures to divert water from reservoirs and rivers to temporarily support wildlife, cattle and agriculture until the drought breaks.

Tulio’s press release said that the “government is drawing up an action plan (for the) short, medium and long term.”

The governor also said he would call upon oil companies in the region to use their resources and equipment to alleviate the environmental catastrophe.

Colombia is typically susceptible to seasonal droughts.  Extreme droughts often relate to the El Niño phenomenon which causes radical temperature changes in the eastern Pacific Ocean and can lead to extreme weather in South America. However the severity of the current drought in Casarare is unusual in its decimation of animal populations.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, global temperature rises during the 21st century are expected to exacerbate drought frequency in tropical regions like Colombia.


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